The original lineup (Mark I) of Deep Purple -- lead guitarist Ritchie Blackmore, vocalist Rod Evans, drummer Ian Paice, keyboardist Jon Lord, bassist Nick Simper -- released three albums in 1968 and 1969.
The reissues (7/26/11) of Shades of Deep Purple, The Book of Talisesyn, and Deep Purple provide historical perspective on a band who found a place in the mainstream by being different.
Because DP tended toward long tracks, and because space on vinyl discs was limited, the originals of these albums had only seven or eight tracks. Each of the reissues features additional tracks of B-sides, alternate takes and outtakes.
'Shades of Deep Purple' - 1968
There were several things about Deep Purple's debut album that made it stand out.
As was typical at the time, half of the albums eight tracks were covers but two of the four original songs were instrumentals, including the lead track.
DP gave the covers distinctive arrangements with long instrumental intros and a hard rock delivery.
Takes on the Tracks
1. "And the Address" - lead-off instrumental written by Blackmore and Lord
2. "Hush" - released as a single in the U.S. prior to the album's release, written by Joe South, recorded in 1967 by Billy Joe Royal
3. "One More Rainy Day" - ballad written by Lord and Evans
4. "I'm So Glad" - cover originally recorded in the '30s, also covered by Cream on their first album
5. "Mandrake Root" - written by Blackmore, Lord and Evans, originally intended to be an instrumental, lyrics were added after the recording sessions began
6. "Help!" - psychedlic treatment was a disctinctive twist on The Beatles' version
7. "Love Help Me" - written by Blackmore and Evans, a Beach Boys-ish pop number
8. "Hey Joe" - DP's was at least the 10th cover of the song which had already become a fixture on Jimi Hendrix's set list
The 2011 reissue contains five additional cuts: "Shadows" was recorded for the album but not included; instrumental version of "Love Help Me"; alternative take of "Help!"; live BBC performance of "Hey Joe"; live performance of "Hush" from a U.S. TV show.
'The Book of Taliesyn' - 1968
Perhaps presaging the musical turn Blackmore would take in the late '90s with Blackmore's Night, The Book of Taliesyn (referenced in the opening track, "Listen, Learn, Read On") is based on work of a sixth century poet named Taliesin. As suggested by the original cover art, DP's second album leaned even more toward psychedlic / progressive than the first. It also began a trend toward a harder rock sound. Like the debut album, Taliesyn offered a mix of original songs and covers, and featured long-ish instrumental intros, and one instrumental track.
Takes on the Tracks
1. "Listen, Learn, Read On" - in marked contrast to future up-tempo hard rock opening tracks, here's a medieval tale of kings, dukes and damsels in distress
2. "Wring That Neck" - (titled "Hard Road" when first released in the US) this instrumental features Lord's keyboards at their majestic best
3. "Kentucky Woman" - hard rock treatment of what had already become a Neil Diamond pop standard
4. "(a) Exposition" / "(b) We Can Work It Out" - DP's version of this Beatles cover is introduced with a prog rock arrangement of a Beethoven symphony
5. "Shield" - another psych rock DP original
6. "Anthem" - organ-driven, classical-oriented prog rock
The 2011 reissue contains five additional tracks: a cover of Leon Russell - Mike Leander's "Oh No No No" that didn't make it onto the album; versions of "It's All Over", "Hey Bop a Re Bop" and "Wring That Neck" from a 1969 BBC show; and an outtake of "Playground" from a 1968 studio session.
'Deep Purple' - 1969
Mark I's third album signaled some key changes of direction. There were more original songs, and just one cover. More significantly, the band was leaning more and more toward a heavier rock approach and away from its prog/psych beginnings. Even as Deep Purple (sometimes referred to as Deep Purple III) was in production, there was increasing conflict among band members as to the merits of the hard rock emphasis. Ultimately, that led to the departures of Evans and Simper from the band shortly after the release of the album, and a non-album single, "Emmaretta".
Takes on the Tracks
1. "Chasing Shadows" - Paice's percussion is showcased, as is the harder edge that would become standard for DP album openers
2. "Blind" - Lord's keyboards are featured as the flirtation with classical music heard on The Book of Taliesyn continues
3. "Laleña" - the Donovan song from 1968 is the album's only cover
4. "Fault Line" / "The Painter" - originally a typical intrumental intro into a vocal, but split into separate tracks on the reissue, it is an up-tempo blues number
5. "Why Didn't Rosemary?" - reminiscent of '50s R&B, it relies heavily on Blackmore for solos
6. "Bird Has Flown" - (aka "The Bird Has Flown") more like the psychedelia prominent on previous albums, it is the album's best known track, having been released as a single
7. "April" - a long (12 minutes) combination of rock and classical, electric and acoustic
Bonus tracks on the 2011 reissue include a radio version of "The Bird Has Flown"; the non-album single, "Emmaretta"; BBC session versions of "Emmaretta", "Lalena" and "The Painter".
This set has historical significance, showing the development of the band's sound over the course of its first three albums. It's interesting to hear how much things changed over the course of less than a year. The package also creates the benchmark for comparing Mark I to the personnel lineups that would follow.
I'm deducting a star in my rating due to the choices for "bonus" tracks. With the exception non-album singles and radio versions, the extra tracks seem to be there simply to fill the extra space available on a CD that the original vinyl LPs didn't have. How many versions of the same song do you really want to hear on a single album if you're something less than a longtime hardcore fan?
Whether your level of interest is serious or casual, I think you'll enjoy listening to the very earliest recorded Deep Purple work. I reccomend getting all three if you can, but if you can only manage one, I suggest The Book of Taliesyn as a good sampling of the various musical styles DP experimented with in the beginning.