Thursday, October 8, 2009

Deep Purple: Hush

It’s TV Thursday and today’s number is a song featured on a recent Jaguar commercial: “Hush,” the maiden single by Deep Purple (and we ain’t talkin’ about Nino Tempo and April Stevens either).

The Jaguar commercial:

The US issue of the album (T-102) was the second album and the single (1503) was third single release for the independent Tetragrammaton label that was partially owned by Bill Cosby.

The song hush was written by Joe South (“Games People Play”) with Billy Joe Royal in mind. Royal released it as a single in the US, but his version peaked on the Billboard’s Hot 100 at 52 in 1967. Deep Purple’s 1968 arrangement, while similar to Joe South’s demo recording of the song, only charted in North America where it placed at #4 in the US and #2 in Canada.

The recording features Deep Purple’s original lineup that included vocalist Rod Evans and bassist Nick Simper – both of whom were fired after the release of the band’s self titled third album.

Hammond B3 Organ

Unlike later recordings by Deep Purple that prominently featured the guitar of Ritchie Blackmore, “Hush” and others from this period concentrated on keyboardist Jon Lord’s organ playing. His instrument of choice was the classic Hammond B3 organ.

The Hammond sound is unique and was created using 96 rotating tone wheels that recreate the sound of a pipe organ. The organ had drawbars that could be set to add a certain amount of tone mimicking pipe organ pipes in various lengths. These included 16 foot, 8 foot, 4 foot, 2 foot, 1 foot with the 8 foot setting being the fundamental sound. In addition three drawbars added a fifth note in various octaves with the 5 1/3 foot, 2 2/3 foot, and 1 1/3 foot settings. One additional draw bar (1 3/5 foot) added a major third that was two octaves above the fundamental.

The adjustment of the drawbars created unique timbres and when combined what was termed as percussion that added a “plink” to the attack and a key click which was caused by the closing of the key contacts on the organ. Add to all of that the Leslie rotating speaker with produced a Doppler effect that changed the pitch of the notes being played. Finally, organists learned that this mechanical organ’s tone wheels could produce a pitch bend when the musician, while depressing the keys, shut the organ off and then back on while playing.

Made until 1974, the Hammond B3 organs produced a distinctive sound and these instruments were used on thousands of recordings during the period. Jon Lord’s playing shows that an organist can also use a percussive attack and glissando to add effects to songs without having to be exact when playing. You can hear this in “Hush” as well as other Rock organ pieces from the period. See if you can pick out the various sounds in Jon Lord’s playing on “Hush.”

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