Deep Pur­ple - In Rock and Ma­chine Head


An al­bum that’s es­sen­tial to un­der­stand­ing the history of hard rock and heavy me­tal is Deep Pur­ple’s 1970 Deep Pur­ple In Rock [Warner Bros CD 1877].

While In Rock is Deep Pur­ple’s fourth al­bum, it was their 1st re­lease to fea­ture vo­cal­ist Ian Gil­lan’s dy­namic singing and Roger Glover’s pow­er­ful and melodic bass. Com­bined with Jon Lord’s vir­tu­oso key­board and Ham­mond or­gan work, drum­mer Ian Paice’s cere­bral per­cus­sion, and Ritchie Blackmore’s fre­netic guitar wiz­ardry, to­day, In Rock is con­sid­ered to be one of the cor­ner­stones in the foun­da­tion of all forms of mod­ern-day hard rock and heavy me­tal.

As rock mu­si­cians went, in the early 1970s Deep Pur­ple’s in­di­vid­ual mem­bers could out-play just about ev­ery­one else who was around at that time. As a col­lec­tive whole, Deep Pur­ple’s mu­si­cal syn­ergy was sim­ply un­matched.

While the first three Deep Pur­ple al­bums had drawn in­flu­ences from psy­che, blues, folk, and even clas­si­cal mu­sic, In Rock took all of these in­flu­ences fur­ther; in fact, much fur­ther. They col­lec­tively com­bined the de­spair­ing sound of the blues, the panoramic sound of psy­che­delic mu­sic, and the light-hearted me­an­der­ings of folk mu­sic, and then played them far faster and heav­ier. At the same time, they also added a darker edge to the mu­sic. What emerged was a pro­to­type col­lec­tion of clas­sic hard rock songs which all fu­ture gen­res of me­tal clas­sify as an in­flu­ence.

The first track on In Rock ti­tled ‘Speed King’ roars forth with a fast­break­ing lead guitar riff. Com­bined with solid per­cus­sion, great rhythm, and a cu­ri­ous or­gan solo, this song drives lis­ten­ers head­long into a bar­rage of in­tri­cate lead guitar so­los. Gil­lian’s knife-edged feral screams set the vo­cal tone for the en­tire al­bum.

The tracks ‘Blood­sucker’, ‘Flight of the Rat’, ‘Into the Fire’, and ‘Liv­ing Wreck’ are all mu­si­cally struc­tured around the same heavy bass­laden rhythms, fast guitar lines, and scream­ing vo­cals. Nu­mer­ous swift and at­mo­spheric guitar, drum, or­gan, and bass so­los punc­tu­ate all of these songs with cre­ative and un­ex­pected mu­si­cal com­plex­ity.

With its pro­gres­sive time signa- tures and me­an­der­ing or­gan in­ter­ludes, the song ‘Child in Time’ clocks in at 10:15. Mu­si­cally speak­ing, it rede­fined what could be done with an epic-length hard rock track. Part of this song was even used to great ef­fect in the Hol­ly­wood block­buster movie Twis­ter.

In Rock is one of my ‘Desert Is­land Discs’. This al­bum de­liv­ered the speed, power, and tech­ni­cal vir­tu­os­ity which would be­come the tenets of the New Wave of Bri­tish Heavy Me­tal [NWoBHM] move­ment, of Heavy Me­tal in the 1980s and be­yond, and of all mod­ern rock mu­sic be­ing played fast and loud. If you’re cu­ri­ous to know where this style of mu­sic started, it should be on your ‘short list’ of al­bums to buy.

Ma­chine Head

Even though the mem­bers of the ‘Mach-2’ ver­sion of Deep Pur­ple had only been to­gether for two years when Ma­chine Head was recorded, the al­bum sounds like a ma­ture re­lease from a band who knew ex­actly how to cap­ture the vol­canic energy of their live shows on tape in the stu­dio en­vi­ron­ment.

Ian Paice was an as­tound­ing drum­mer who had the mu­si­cal ma­tu­rity to never over­whelm, or over­play, songs with bom­bas­tic, lu­natic, or un­nec­es­sary drum so­los; and/or su­per­flu­ous per­cus­sion.

Jon Lord played key­boards with such au­thor­ity, dex­ter­ity, and con­fi­dence, that he sin­gle-hand­edly made the Ham­mond or­gan a force to be reck­oned with in hard rock mu­sic. Although for­mally trained as a clas­si­cal pi­anist, Lord’s at­ti­tude was that of a thor­ough­bred rock mu­si­cian who could play tech­ni­cally in­tri­cate (read: near im­pos­si­ble) neo-clas­si­cal key­board lines, but also had the cre­ative skill and imag­i­na­tion to, seem­ingly at will, add stag­ger­ing amounts of at­mos­phere or ut­terly bizarre sound­ing stac­cato bursts from his key­boards.

And, just as on the In Rock al­bum, Ian Gil­lan brings a com­mand­ing swag­ger, un­stop­pable fun, and scream­ing gusto to ev­ery track on

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