“Rained all day – went up Trev’s, borrowed … In Rock….”
Deep Purple’s “In Rock” album, was notable at the time because it was the first album they released where every track was written by members of the band. Gone then are the cheesy Neil Diamond covers, replaced by ‘proper’ tunes.
Sure, Ian Gillan still screams for all his worth, Blackmore’s guitar screeches accordingly and Jon Lord’s keyboard work nicely fills all the ‘speaker centre’ gaps, but, to me, this has always felt like an uneven collection of songs.
I’ll be honest and say I have rarely made it through the whole of side 2, even though “Flight of the Rat” (mini drum solo from Ian Paice), “Into the Fire” (lovely fuzzy Hammond), “Living Wreck” (nice riff, always seemed to have one note missing to me) and “Hard Lovin’ Man” are OK songs. Sadly, none of them gripped me (or anyone else?) as much as the cuts on Side 1.
“Speed King” is nothing short of an iconic Deep Purple song. It’s one of the few cuts that feels (to me, anyway) to encapsulate the band properly, each instrument – including Gillan’s (oft-out-of-tune) vocals – alternately vying for your attention. The energy is almost relentless from start to finish. Check out the full version if you get a chance, but meanwhile here’s a You Tube video of the band performing it – somewhat cheesily – in a Granada TV studio in 1970. Not a patch on the studio version, but it still shows that vibrancy and completeness the band could possess from time to time.
“Bloodsucker” is Ian Gillan’s moment in the spotlight. He evidently went into the studio that morning wearing the tightest loon pants he could find in his wardrobe. No one screams falsetto like Gillan when he’s got those pants one!
Then, to close down Side 1, there is the live favourite “Child in Time“, a personal little guilty pleasure from that day to this, the perfect symmetry between the band member’s playing still managing to occasionally send the odd shiver up this elderly spine of mine. There is that weird break at about the 3:30 mark – which almost threatens to undermine the song – but they pick it up perfectly thereafter, the rhythm and pace (paice?) increasing nicely to the finale.
I need to say (repeat? – have I said this before?) that I never saw Deep Purple play live in concert. However, unlike not seeing the Moon-era Who for instance, I have no musical regrets in this regard. They’ve never appealed to me as a live act. For all my protestations that suggest the contrary, Ian Gillan’s vocals – especially that screaming he did – never sat entirely comfortably with me. They were just “one of the bands” who were “everywhere” at the time, and I suppose any teenager worth his salt felt somewhat obliged to listen to and appreciate their work somehow. Indeed, as these diaries have progressed I have found it MOST peculiar – and somewhat disconcerting – to discover Deep Purple’s name mentioned again and again. (Needless to say it has greatly amused a few of the friends I grew up with)
Tomorrow… Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells… serendipity ensues….