Saturday, June 12, 2010

Deep Purple Before Smoke On The Water

During the summer of 1973, Deep Purple’s “Smoke on the Water” single and “Machine Head” LP brought the band into mainstream popularity. While they had several hit records, many of their earlier recordings were unknown to mainstream audiences. Some of this music was excellent and gives a picture of the band when the main instrument appears to be Jon Lord’s organ rather than Ritchie Blackmore’s guitar. “Smoke on the Water” adjusted this balance.

Since I typically feature LPs on Saturday, I am doing a pre-“Smoke on the Water” feature with a song from all of the albums and some non album singles from before the release of “Machine Head. ” There is one notable exception; I will not be featuring anything from their fourth LP: “Concerto for Group and Orchestra” with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.

My first Purple album was “Fireball” that I purchased at a flea market in 1972. Later, I was able to find the first two US LPs and some early singles on the original Tetragrammaton Records label when they were eventually released from warehouses to the cutout bins in the early 1970s. This was after Tetragrammaton’s bankruptcy proceedings were concluded. At the same time, Warner Brothers reissued the albums as two double album sets. Tetreagrammaton Records was owned by the Campbell, Silver, and Cosby Corporation with comedian Bill Cosby being the third partner in the endeavor.

The Tetragrammaton name came from the term for the Hebrew designation of God’s identity from the Old Testament. Literally, Tetragrammaton in Greek means four letters; and prior to the Masoretic Text of the Hebrew bible when vowels were added, the name of God was represented by four Hebrew consonants יהוה – which in English is represented by YHWH or JHVH,  This name, translated as "I Am" is pronounced as Yahweh or Jehovah. Up to the time of the Masorites, Hebrew writing contained no written vowels as their inclusion was implied by context, but not formally recorded.

Early Deep Purple Tetragrammaton Releases


“Shades of Deep Purple” T-102 – charted in the US at #24
“The Book of Taliesyn” T-107 – charted in the US at #54
“Deep Purple” T-119 – charted in the US at #162
“Concerto for Group and Orchestra” T-131 (Later released as WB-1860) – never charted in the US.


Hush” / “One More Rainy Day” #1503 – charted in the US at #4
“Kentucky Woman”/”Hard Road” (AKA “Wring that Neck”) #1508 – charted in the US at #38
“River Deep/Mountain High” / “Listen, Read, Learn On” #1514 – charted in the US at #53
“Emmaretta”/”Bird has Flown” #1519 – charted in the US at #128
“Hallelujah (I am the Preacher)”/ “April (Part 1)” #1539 – charted in the US at #108

Early Deep Purple Warner Brothers Releases


“Concerto for Group and Orchestra” WB-1860 (Originally released as T-131) – never charted in the US.
“In Rock” – WB-1877 charted in the US at #143
“Fireball” – BS-2564 charted in the US at #32


“Black Night” / “Speed King” WB7405 – never charted in the US
“Child in Time (Part 1)” / “Child in Time (Part 2)” Promo release only – never charted in the US
“Strange Kind of Woman” / “I’m Alone” WB7493 – never charted in the US
“Fireball” / “Anyone’s Daughter” WB7528 – never charted in the US

Prelude: Happiness / I’m So Glad

Since I’ve already featured the top 5 single “Hush” in a former post, I decided to use my favorite cut from Deep Purple’s debut LP “Shades of Deep Purple.”

Having been familiar with Skip James’ classic “I’m So Glad” from “Goodbye Cream,” I’ve always preferred Deep Purple’s version. The two times I performed with the band “City Chicken,” I sang this tune and played acoustic/electric guitar. It is one of my favorite songs of all time – no matter which version. The original lead vocalist Rod Evans is handling the vocals.


The band’s second LP, “Book of Taliesyn” is my least favorite album of their early works - well, second least favorite - "Concerto for Group and Orchestra" would probably rank as my least favorite. One of the first cuts to be recorded for the second LP features a classical interlude showing the influence of Jon Lord’s musical tastes rising to the top.

While the song has been compared to the first King Crimson LP, I beg to differ pointing to similarities with the Nice and the classical workings of Keith Emerson. Ritchie Blackmore has an interesting solo – which is an indication of some of later work in Blackmore's Night.


Originally available only as a non-LP single, “Emmeratta” was a Purple classic sung in concert for many years. The song was released between the LPs “The Book of Taliesyn” and “Deep Purple.”


I debated on whether I should do a feature of the third eponymous LP “Deep Purple,” as it is my favorite early album by the band. I will do the album feature in the future as I really like the idea of featuring some of the early Purple recordings in toto. I couldn't find the American release of this LP in 1973, so I got the UK import on Harvest.  It was a little more expensive, but well worth it.

Lalena, written by Donovan P. Leitch, is my favorite song from the LP as well as my favorite cut by Donovan. The album did poorly in the US partially blamed on the choice of using the third panel of Hieronymus Bosch’s triptych “The Garden of Earthly Delights.” Reportedly, US audiences unfamiliar with Bosch’s style tended view this section of the painting as being Satanic and thus many stores refused to stock the album. Despite this misinterpretation of the meaning and source of the cover, their third album is truly one of their best early recordings.

Hallelujah (I am the Preacher)

Another non-LP single for Deep Purple, “Hallelujah (I am the Preacher)” was released simultaneously with the “Deep Purple” album. Although the full length version of the flip side, “April (Part 1)” appeared on the album, “Hallelujah (I am the Preacher)” was not as fortunate. I have a copy of the original Tetragrammaton release of this single and it has always been a favorite of mine. The video is a pseudo-live recording of the tune.

Black Night

Another single only issue, “Black Night” was slated to be released by Tetragrammaton, but was lost in the shuffle in the label’s bankruptcy proceedings. Warners released the song as their first Deep Purple single nearly a year after the rest of the world. The opening guitar riff reminds me of the Blues Magoos’ “(We ain’t got) Nothing Yet.” Ritchie Blackmore's work is featured on this cut along with Ian Gillan, the band’s new vocalist. The song was the highest charting single for the band in the UK peaking at #2.

Child in Time

Warner Brothers began heavily promoting Deep Purple with the release of "In Rock" and album radio began a love affair with the band that exists to this day.

While this single was commercially released elsewhere, I believe that Warner Brothers only released it as a radio station promo copy only. I cannot seem to find any mention on a US commercial release. It is just as well, as the single chopped the song into two parts. According to the liner notes, the song was "the story of a loser - it could be you."

Strange Kind of Woman

As I mentioned earlier, “Fireball” was my first Deep Purple album. This tune only appeared on the US and Japanese releases of the album – elsewhere “Demon’s Eye” appeared in its place.

On the live LP, “Deep Purple in Concert,” Ian Gillan introduced the song, “It was about a friend of ours who got mixed up with a very evil woman and it was a sad story. They got married in the end. And a few days after they got married, the lady died.” Very strange kind of woman – eh?

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