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In the long history of rock music, there were many pinnacle moments when everyone knew something was going on and a shift was unavoidable. It happened with Little Richard and Chuck Berry, Dylan and Presley, the Beatles and the Stones and moreover around.
The same thing was happening in the beginning of the seventies. Two bands (followed by some other ones) were starting something they've never thought it would became massive. Black Sabbath, with two brilliant LP's and Deep Purple, with this milestone album, which sets the foundation of what would later reached the world with the name "metal".
Though, there are some radical differences between doomy heavy Sabbath and speedy power Purple. Iommi's band was yet flirting with bluesy tunes, while Blackmore's (including new singer Ian Gillan and bassist Roger Glover) gave a different approach to the genre. It was the playing style as a whole, dynamic, full of virtuosity, shocking and powerful where blasting beats by Ian Paice and Glover danced alongside the filling atmosphere provided by Maestro Jon Lord with his Hammond and Ritchie's magnanimous lines, drawn in the middle of Gillan's metal-creator singing. Sabbath sounded heavy, but Purple was heavy, totally.
Won't enter in a long-song-per-song critique here. I'll go straight to the point, starting with the four fillers that can be found in this record: "Flight of the Rat", "Into the Fire", "Living Wreck" and "Hard Lovin Man". These pieces are totally enjoyable, niceties that makes an album a little bit lighter, but they are good enough to keep you in touch and with total atention. A great album needs great fillers, and these four songs are into that category. Hard rocking pieces to the core, classic metal songs. Period.
What makes this record a masterpiece are the following tracks, starting with the powerful opener "Speed King". Tremendous and breathtaking, is the finest example of rock evolution to metal. Speed and Power are recieving first lights with this song. Gillan singing slashes you to the bone, Glover and Paice beating keeps the frenzy up to the line while Lord and Blackmore soloing brings you a parallel virtuoso universe.
"Bloodsucker" slows down the paice and yet is heavy and rocking. Gillan steals the looks here, with his gnawling singing. Supported by a powerful and catchy riff by the String Sorcerer, there is nothing else to be said.
The reputation of "Child in Time" is legendary. By far, Deep Purple's creative masterpiece. The atmosphere of the song, provided by maestro Lord, with the rythmic patterns by Glover and Paice, alongside The Banshee singing and lyrics mixed with Blackmore's power strings, leaves every metal listener in love. No band created something more epic, astonishing and brightful than this. A total metal classic on its own.
And of course, we can't forget the hit single of the album, "Black Night", with the wide known Blackmore-Glover-Paice beat and bluesy structure. A show by Deep Purple without Black Night is like a show of Sabbath without Iron Man.
From the top to the bottom, this album is filled with metal DNA, it is from the purest linage of the genre. So, be not afraid, metal erudite, and fill your collection with the first sculpture made in behalf of metal, those five heads in Mount Rushmore, doing their thing and doing it well.
This record was the one that made me follow the paths to the metal world. Before I heard this, I was listening to Elton John, Madonna, whatever was on the radio. I had never heard anything like it, and it made me step away from mainstream radio music, and instead I went to the metal world.
This is a top notch album in every single way. The production is first class. Every instrument is clear, and is given its chance to shine. The great vocals from Ian Gillian is strong, clear and powerful. He does a fantastic job here, giving all he’s got on every fuckin track, and the man has got some freakin balls aswell. Ritchie Blackmore is a legend, and he’s shredding it all up in every freakin song! The solo in Child In Time is unforgettable, so is the riffing in Speed King. I really enjoy the bass here aswell, I think it’s perfectly mixed, and Roger Glover really shows you what a bass can add to the music. This album is filled with huge basslines.
Now, I’m usually not the one for keyboards, but when you have a musician of Jon Lords class in your lines, you can’t really fail. He does a great job all the time, if it is building a powerful as fuck wall behind the music with the bass, or playing along with Gillians screaming. Ian Paice plays along with powerful drumming, a fast beat when needed, or playing only on the cymbals to make an epic sound, like in Child In Time.
The songs, well here we have an album filled with classics. This really is a great album.
The album kicks off with Speed King, and already from the first shredding solo from Ritchie, you can tell that this album is gonna be a killer. The intro sounds to me like Hit The Lights of Metallica, all the instruments pretty much playing along to a kickass solo, before the song goes into a misleading, church-sounding keyboard part, before the guys start kicking ass again. The song builds up to the godlike chorus. “IM A SPEEEED KING!” Gillian does an extremely good performance here, and Ritchie pulls out a crazy riff that kicks ass. Also check out the groovy basslines by Roger. Great stuff. The song goes on with more of this badass chorus, before fading out. A classic.
Next up is Bloodsucker. This is more straight-forward but still kicks a maximum amount of ass. The riff is catchy as hell, Gillian screams as powerful as ever, and the rest of the band stays TIGHT. A slower solo here, but still, it owns.
Child In Time. Now this is epic. The intro is nothing less then beautiful, and the song builds slowly up, and it explodes when Mr. Ritchie Blackmore kicks off with a solo that may very well is the best he has ever made. Listening to Ritchie just fucking nail this godlike solo, over the galloping bass and drums, is nothing less then great. This song is long, clocks at over 10 minutes, but every second is memorable. Every instrument gets room to shine here, and trust me, they do. This is a true masterpiece, nothing less.
The typical way to follow a song like Child In Time, is with a straight-rocking filler. Flight Of The Rat though, is a pretty complex song, featuring some great riffs, very strong drums, and, as always, an intense performance by Ian Gillian. He really is an amazing singer. After the 4:45 mark, we get some really interesting riffage, just showing you the class of guitar player Ritchie is. The song ends with a nice drum solo.
Into The Fire is the must underrated on here. This is some heavy stuff. The intro riff is a real ballbreaker, and the chorus gets right in your face from nowhere, “INTO THE FIIIRE!” followed by more of the badass riff. Here we also get some interesting drum fills. Really an underrated song.
This is catchy as shit! Living Wreck starts in an awesome way with a groovy bassline before an equally groovy guitar and bass line kicks in. This is the weakest song on the album, but it’s still a gooc song! I love the build up before the chorus, and Ian voice here sounds stunning. I don’t like the solo very much though, I think that is the only part on the album where Ritchie overuse the effects, but anyway a solid performance.
The closer is *GASP*, a classic. Some very solid riffing here, and the band stays tight through the whole song. Here we get solos from pretty much the whole band, but this song ain’t a mess in any way. The guitar solo is huge as always, and here we get some keyboard solos aswell, which sounds decent, but I much prefer it in the background. The outro is maybe the highlight of the album, Ritchie shredding it all into pieces, he really did the performance of his life on this album.
So there you go, this is a classic album from the godlike band named Deep Purple. Get it at all costs.
"...the line that's drawn between the good and the bad..."
Black Sabbath. Deep Purple. Uriah Heep. Led Zeppelin. Arguably the big four of hard rock (and I will throw Sir Lord Baltimore in there as an unaccredited fifth). Two started the decade with debuts while the others were already charting with at least two records. 1970 – perhaps the pivotal year in early heavy music. Gardens of ‘60s love lie trampled in its wake. The ‘feel good’ nausea of bubblegum begins to loose its flavor. Zeppelin has its moments, churning out some heavy notes that could overthrow bulldozers. Sabbath and Heep just now rise from the sea with thunderous steps. With their compatriots, Deep Purple, the eldest of the four, start their deafening toll of metal’s pubescent birth – flower power-kicking lyrics, nail-hard riffs, seething solos, hostile disposition, and in some cases angry mazes of organ. Future guitar gods take their thrones and future legendary bands firmly plant their feet in the cement of ages.
The sound of these bands is indeed hard rock, but one didn’t start out that way. The first three Purple lps dictate few nods to the heavy (or hard), drawing from folk, psych, blues, and even classical influences, but then did they all. I find it astounding when metal fans scoff at these bands for actually borrowing from their influences, as if they were going to glean inspiration from somewhere else. Too much blues… what’s with all this crappy weird psychy stuff? Scalawags! Why couldn’t they wake up one morning and just play metal, a style no one has ever heard of? The fact is that the pinnacle album for these bands take all that - the despairing blues, the panoramic psych, the lighthearted folk - and blacken them, distort their vision, and smother them with the mass of anvils. The hard rock sound has just been epitomized.
In Rock rings the departure of vocalist Rod Evans and bassist Nick Simper, but blares the vocals of Ian Gillan and deep thump bass of Roger Glover. This is why when then-current fans of the band threw the album on their turntables it practically detonated. With the membership changing from DP’s self-titled third lp, most were prepared for a discrepancy in sound, but the shock had to have been electric at least. In addition to the band loading tonnage onto its rhythmic ledges, their new raven-haired lungblaster who also laid pipes to the part of Jesus in the same-year Jesus Christ Superstar rock opera was more untamed than Ozzy, less mystical than Plant, and pound for pound could face off with Byron, the closest semblance to him of the three.
The original North American version of “Speed King” has no intro – it launches at you like a brute that's just come unhinged, an ode to Little Richard (who was over the top for his time) with an ornery breaking riff and an untamed barrage of lyrics that are the first feral utterances of Gillan. “Bloodsucker” chugs along captivatingly on a nearly endless stream of vocals as Blackmore and organist Lord trade solo quests. The lengthy “Child in Time” is DP’s “Stairway to Heaven” with an alternative structure and churchy organs replacing the acoustics. Elegant and unhurried is the gait that slightly gains momentum to showcase not only the jackhammer rhythm that Diamond Head would sponge inspiration from (think “Am I Evil”), but also some of the most prevalent, numbing screams anyone of the time had ever forged. A maddened solo rambles to the brink, then recalls the grace of the song’s start. Deranged organ leads the unbridled salvo that ends side one with the tenderness of a collapsing coalmine.
Swift and deadly is “Flight of the Rat” with guitar and drum solos fiery enough to ignite the next tune, “Into the Fire”, possessor of a fairly droning doomy riff surrounding a half-baked and rather boring blues rhythm laced with basic rock influence. Slow, methodical and bluesy “Living Wreck” lives off its likable chorus while more organ work shrills through like jagged beams of light. Another track that doesn’t end easily is “Hard Lovin’ Man” - reverberating, squealing ivories overlap a durable galloping step that barrels into a maelstrom of discordance and rage to end a dozen albums.
I’m not much of a blues fan and folk is something I can stomach easier, and if there’s psych to be had, let it be margarine lite or at least conveyed with some purpose beyond an acidic kaleidoscope, but I know their role in the creation of hard rock is vast. Judas Priest, AC/DC, The Ramones, Kiss and others that would follow wouldn’t be the same without them, nor would Maiden, and we all know what follows. It wouldn’t be easy to foretell the long-gone future of metal without In Rock and its allies.
On a side note, taking part in the creation of that time’s underground scene were ambiguous, mysterious names, bands that were synonymous of the aggressive big four resonance…Sir Lord Baltimore, Warhorse, Lucifer’s Friend, Writing on the Wall, Buffalo, Necromandus, High Tide…yet are nearly faceless among their more popular peers. Pick your reason – microscopic record label, impoverished advertising/production budget, roaming membership, zero airplay, family, death, drugs, jail, bankruptcy…not so different from our own metal underground and an unhealthy list of why many great bands never achieved their rightful place among the Big Kahunas of yesteryear. If you enjoy the four records mentioned here, then looking these bands up isn't your worst idea.
When people talk about the roots of metal, they usually speak about Black Sabbath being the founders of it all, but all they had was the heavy riffs. Deep Purple had the hardness, speed, monstersolos, aggressive high pitched vocals and wildness that is commonly known as heavy metal these days.
"In Rock" was totally spectacular when it came out. The way the band used their gear in such a combination, was unheard of.
The album starts out with a breath taking frenzy, of wild grinding guitars and swirling organs. Even in these days people hold their ears and beg you to turn the noise of, so I can only imagine what people must have thought in those days.
This song, with the wild intro is called "Speed King". After the wild intro, it slows down and fades into a calm organ part, which sounds almost church like. This calmness however, suddenly bursts out in a orgie of heavy, hard riffs and screaming vocals. The song is still one of the best songs in rock history and is still, which goes for the whole album, vital, fresh and energetic.
The second track "Blood Sucker" (Also to be found re-recorded on the album Abandon, 1998), is a slower, darker song, with lyrics about a "nasty sort of creature" as the band themselves put it. Nice solos and a very strong ending that build up and becomes very intense.
Track three is one of the great rock classics of all time, "Child in Time". It's beautiful organ intro is amazing. The sound and the feel of the organ on this track has been copied by numerous band later on, but none have succeeded. Jon Lord demonstrates here, that not only is he a monster rock player, but he also has great feeling, and is one of the best rock organists, especially when it comes to improvising. The vocals on the track are totally stunning. Ian Gillan gives one of his best performances ever here, with great dynamics and angel like feel. The part where he screams is so damn good you feel that no one could have done it better. Ritchie Blackmore's guitar solo on this track is also legendary. I have become a bit bored of his style through the years, but as soon as I listen to this solo I forget all that. It really is amazing.
If you haven't heard "Child in Time", you haven't heard rock at all.
"Flight of the Rat" is the fourth track and is a faster more straight song with quite typical hard rock/metal riffs and furious organ. There's also a fun wha wha guitar part, which makes it different. Very typical early seventees wha wha sound, which I like a lot. It ends quite differently as well, with a drum solo. Ian Paice is by the way, one of the few rock drummers that really has a unique style and feel. You can always here when Paice is on the drums. Might I add, that he his extremely technical, fast and was one of the first to ever use double bass drums for fast beats (listen to "Fireball"), which is a trademark of all modern metal.
After this fast track, we move on to a slow, heavy monster track by the name of "Into the Fire". It has a sort of Hendrix feel to it, Blackmore at this time largely influenced by Jimi, and has some nice bass and drum work by Paice and Roger Glover. Very cool, bluesy solos from both Lord and Blackmore. "It's my favourite track on the album. It was so heavy!", Roger Glover once said. Glover by the way, wrote a lot of the material on this album, hence there are many "bass like" riffs.
"Living Wreck" is a kind of heavy funk song, with lots of distortion on the organ. Ritchie is more of a background caracter on this track, which is quite unusual. Although the albums weakest track, "Living Wreck" is still anormously good. There is no such thing as bad track on this album. Everything is so well written and played in such an amazing way that all of the tracks become immortal.
The last song on the album "Hard Lovin' Man" is built on a kind of galloping Maiden-type riff (I have a feeling Mr Harris has listened a lot to this album). The organ dominates the first half of the track though, with wild solos and sound effects that only God and Jon Lord (Forget God, Lord is the true Lord), know how to produce. The overall sound of the track has got a slightly distorted sound, which works very well. Ritchie's solo is great, as usual. Fast and with a great overdubbed harmony. There is a brake quite far in to the song in which Ritchie fools around producing strange sliding noises on the guitar. He also ends the song with these sounds. It leaves you with a kind of breathless feeling, especially if you haven't heared the album before. Totally stunning.
"In Rock" is truly a one of a kind album. There never has, nor will there ever be anything like this. Every hard rock and metal fan should own a copy of this record. It's our history.
What can be said about this fantastic album?
Well, first you have a four octave vocal assult, given by no other than the legendary Ian Gillan, also known as Jesus Christ (Superstar, of course.) His amazing banshee wails have been known to Disturb the Priest, every now and then. I can't emphasize how great Ian Gillan is, you have to hear this album to truly understand. Combine Ian Gillan's mastery at hard rock vocals with Ritchie Blackmore, and you have a winning team. Ritchie Blackmore is a truly great guitar player. He gives us fantastic riff after riff, and his solos are even more amazing. He is deeply rooted in classical music, and it gives a fresh perspective compared to the blues style many bands played at the time. (and hey, I love Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton, ect. but variety is good) Add Tony Iommi into the mix with these four greats, and you have my five favorite guitarists. We cannot forget Jon Lord, the organ player. "Organ player!?" some might exclaim. But believe me, he is fantastic. He really knows what he is doing. Without him, Ritchie's guitar riffs wouldn't sound half the same. What a lot of people don't realize is that when Jon Lord is riffing with his Hammond Organ, it sounds similar to a guitar. This in turn creates a huge massive sound, which would become a trademark of the band. (well, sometimes Jon played piano and stuff, but that wasn't particularly often) I would compare Jon to some other organ players, but I cannot think of one from a band I listen to that is on the same level of this genius.
We cannot forget the rhythm section, however. They are very impressive themselves. The two of them are Ian Paice (drums) and Roger Glover (bass). I'll start with Little Ian first (Gillan was called Big Ian, and Paice wasn't really small or anything, but Gillan was pretty big). Ian Paice, in short, just has the groove. His drum beats are great. He can play speedy beats with ease, bashing his drum set, but at the same time keeping his "groove." He plays amazingly throughout the album, and is often underrated when people talk about drummers. Granted, I prefer John Bonham (Led Zeppelin) over him, but he beats out his other competitors at the time such as Bill Ward(Black Sabbath). Then again there is Keith Moon, who is fantastic, but I would still put Ian Paice on the same level as him. I just mentioned these drummers because they were all in Hard Rock bands that had overflowing influence on the genres of Hard Rock and Heavy Metal.
Now on to Roger Glover, who is very important in the history of Deep Purple, despite getting the job in Deep Purple by coming along with Ian Gillan when he was about to join Purple. Roger Glover is a great bassist, and was the co-writer of the lyrics along with Ian Gillan. You can hear his thundering bass amidst all the guitar and organ action from Ritchie and Jon. Admittedly, his bass was not as loud as Geezer Butler, but it is still loud and great. He works great alongside of Ian Paice, which is very important for the rhythm section. Someone has to keep the rhythm while Jon and Ritchie are trading off solos! (which happens frequently) We cannot forget the fact that he does the remixing and a lot of the work on the Anniversary Editions of the Mark II(which is this line-up) albums. Before I go on, I should also mention that I will be reviewing the 25th Anniversary Edition of In Rock. The normal version is great too, but the extra songs you get are great, and the intro to Speed King isn't cut off.. Plus, the 25th version is remastered, which is very noticeable. I have both versions, and the sound quality is vastly improved on the remastered version. Into the Fire is barely listenable on the non remastered version! The remastered version IS an import though, but it is only about five dollars more if you order it.
Anyway, on to the songs themselves, which is what the album is about. I will review each song in detail, and give them a letter grade. (A+ being highest, of course, and F- being lowest (but that grade won't be used at all))
"Just a few roots, replanted."
Overview - That intro is astounding. What a strange way to start a song, but it all works. Ritchie really shows his skill here. Anyway, the song contains a pretty heavy riff for the time, and is relatively fast. It would be strange to have a slow song called Speed King, wouldn't it? There is a neat little instrumental in the middle, but Ian Gillan comes back with a furious scream-laugh, and proceeds to finish the song along with the rest of the band. It is a great song, with a great chorus. However, the normal American version of this song has that great intro cut off, which turns this almost-six-minute song into a mind-numb 4 minute rocker. Without that great intro, the song loses a lot of its power and unique-ness.
Stand Out Performances - Ian Gillan, Ritchie Blackmore
Grade - A+
"A particularly nasty sort of fellow, there are lots of us."
Overview - Aaah, No, No, No!! From the first few seconds, you can tell this is gonna be a great hard rock song. Ian Gillan's performance in this song is outstanding! He dominates the song, easily. He gets three vocal parts right in a row, and shines in all of them. Then we hear some classic Organ-Guitar solo trade offs, which are great. The last part of the song is perhaps the most interesting. OlympicSharpshooter explained the effect already, so I will not go more into it, except to say that it is great. All throughout the song, Roger Glover plays a crunching bassline, and Ian Paice's performance is great. However, despite the great instrumental prowess in this song, Ian Gillan clearly outshines the others with his great performance.
Stand Out Performances - Ian Gillan
Grade - A+
Child In Time
"The story of a loser - it could be you."
Overview - The most fantastic song on the album, and is truly awesome. After the first time I heard this amazing epic, I was in awe. If Deep Purple could only be remembered by one song, this would be it. Forget your Smoke on the Waters and Woman from Tokyos, this song absolutely destroys those songs, and to be quite honest, the rest of the Deep Purple catalog. This song is emotional, calm, wild, intrigueing, amazing, and many more things.
The song is essentially about victims of war, and is lyrically very short. It begins with a calm and beautiful organ intro, which is borrowed from It's A Beautiful Day's Bombay Calling. Roger and Ian Paice give us a great rhythm, which fits the song perfectly. Then there is Ian Gillan who starts singing. He does an excellent, no...more than excellent, job singing. He sings the verses passionately and powerfully. Then we enter the trademark "Aaaaaah"s, which you really have to hear to understand them. They start out soft, and progressively get louder and more aggressive. Aggressive really isn't the word to use, but I cannot find a better way to describe this amazing work of vocal art. After Ian Gillan finishes his amazing stunt, it is time for Ritchie to enter the scene. Oh, and enter he shall. He gives us a guitar solo like no other. It starts off slow, and then gets more fast paced as time goes on. It is played and written amazingly. Ritchie has done many amazing solos, but in my opinion, he has never topped this one. Maybe it is just because of the song the solo is in, but either way, the solo is amazing. The rhythm section is great as always throughout the guitar assault. Jon comes in near the end of Ritchie's solo and gives a great solo. It gets faster and faster, until suddenly it stops, and we get that calm organ again, except now Jon is playing an amazing clam organ solo. Ian Gillan sings passionately again, and enters his "Aaaaah"s again. It starts out calmly like the first time, but when he changes this time, it is much more drastic. As he goes on, he gives an even better performance than before, and leaves you wondering how he can possibly do it. The song ends with chaos, featuring Ian Gillan screaming over the top of speedy instruments, but I would have the song end no other way. The song is over ten minutes, but every second is amazing. This is the best song on the album, the best song Deep Purple ever did, and in my book, the best song ever recorded.
Stand Out Performances - Ian Gillan, Ritchie Blackmore, Jon Lord, Roger Glover, Ian Paice
Grade - A+
Flight of the Rat
"Just to remind you there are other ways of turning on."
Overview - After the full out assault of awesomeness that is Child In Time, Deep Purple had to give us something damn good afterwards, and they do not let us down. After I gave this song a few listens, it instantly became one of my favorites. The song just rocks, there is no other way of putting it. Ian Gillan gives a good performance, but refrains from screaming. Roger Glover gives us some great bass, and Jon Lord throws those solos at us like no other. The real stars of this song are Ritchie Blackmore and Ian Paice, though. Ritchie's guitar riff for this song is excellent, and his solos are miles beyond his riff. The man can really play guitar, and does not get the respect he deserves. Ian Paice gives us a great performance himself. His drums are rockin' throughout the song, and his drum solo at the end of the song is great. The song is really all over the place after the first three or so minutes, but that is what makes this song so great.
Stand Out Performances - Ritchie Blackmore, Ian Paice
Grade - A+
Into the Fire
"Out of the frying pan..."
Overview - This song is pretty heavy for its time, and is pretty aggressive. However, the song isn't amazing like the others, but just a very good song. Ian Gillan gives us some furious vocals, which are probably the highlight of the song. Other than that, the song really doesn't stick out too much, other than being heavy. Jon and Ritchie do not dissapoint with their solos and riffing, and Roger and Ian Paice are great as always.
Stand Out Performances - Ian Gillan
Grade - B
"It takes all sorts - support your local groupie."
Overview - Another great song. It is definitely a step up from Into the Fire. The song isn't really super heavy or in your face, it is just a great song. Jon Lord plays great during the song, his "swoosh" organ sound giving the song a lot of character. Ian Gillan also doesn't scream during the song, which is the only other time other than Flight of the Rat where he doesn't. It does not make the song any less great; in fact, his vocals are great on this one. The lyrics are a bit strange, though. You know that "groove" thing I was saying Ian Paice had? He displays it in full glory in this song. Great performance by the Little Ian. Roger gives us some great bass on this song, another of the song's highlights. Ritchie plays well, but he has better moments on the album.
Stand Out Performances - Jon Lord, Roger Glover, Ian Paice, Ian Gillan
Grade - A
Hard Lovin' Man
"For Martin Birch - catalyst."
Overview - Wow, another amazing song. This album really cranks them out. Listen to the guitar riff, it is great. The intro is also killer, as well. The whole band really shines on this track, they play very well. Jon's solos at first were a bit strange to me, but after a few listens I started enjoying them a lot. Ian Gillan gives us a wild performance. He certainly makes sure we know what kind of man he is! Ritchie solos like a madman on this one, and along with Gillan is the highlight of this song. However, every band member gives a great performance on this one, as I have said before, but I cannot understate their achievements. This ends the original album with a bang, but if you take my advice and get the remastered import, you will have other goodies waiting for you.
Stand Out Performances - Ian Gillan, Ritchie Blackmore, Jon Lord, Roger Glover, Ian Paice
Grade - A+
So, on the remastered import we have some more tracks. There are two Black Nights, one is the original single version, and the other is the "Unedited Roger Glover Remix". The single version stops midway through Ritchie Blackmore's final guitar solo, and we miss out on some great stuff. But the full version is there for us. It sounds a lot better as well. We also have remixes of Speed King and Flight of the Rat, which are pretty useless if you ask me. There is a piano version of Speed King, which is a pretty good listen. There is a great instrumental called Jam Stew, and a great unreleased (at least during the Mark II days) song called Cry Free. There are also various "Studio Chats" which are pretty useless again, but some are interesting. I won't review these tracks, but I will tell you that Cry Free is great and is worthy of an A grade. The Unedited Black Night is also a fantastic song, and is worthy of the might A+.
So, there you have it. If you took the time to read this review, you either already have this amazing work of art or highly interested in the album, and therefore should go purchase it.
Noted metal journalist Martin Popoff, a man who I shamelessly emulate in my reviews, believes that the foundations of metal are Black Sabbath's Paranoid, Uriah Heep's Very 'Eavy Very 'Umble(self-titled in the US), and this monumental slab of early hard rock magic, Purple's In Rock. I'm inclined to agree with him, but I don't praise this as effusively as he does, nor as my fellow reviewers do. And why is that? Well dear friends, it's because this is inflicted with that all too common curse of 70's metal records: some tracks are absolutely mind-blowing and advanced, while others wallow in the past and have no modern relevance at all. Just check out Black Sabbath's first record, or the first few Scorpions and UFO albums, the first Rainbow record even. They are straight up crippled by bluesy noodling, cheap attempts at psychedelic wanderings, and excruciatingly ancient snippets of prog-rock when they should be focused on tight riffs and aggressive performances.
Deep Purple, as most of you know, started out as a typical hit and miss 60's white rhythm and blues act. You probably remember the hit ("Hush") and wisely forget the misses (uhhh...the rest of it). Apparently the Yardbirds and The Who shocked them into their metallic senses around 1969, because following the sickeningly pretentious Concerto for Group and Orchestra they finally got around to writing some songs that people would actually want to hear. Thus, In Rock was born. This is a truly seminal album in metal history. Sabbath was unrelentingly doomy and gloomy, but there were still founded on the blues. Enter Ritchie Blackmore, metal's first lead guitar hero (Iommi is mostly known for that ghastly rhythm play), who in conjunction with organist John Lord brought classical influence to the unstable mix and sundered metal from the warmed over blues riffs of Zeppelin and company, pointing to a land of Schenkers, Tiptons, and Downings that would cause metals evolution into the realm of choice for the musically adept, and also it's isolation from the mainstream because it refused to just give up and be catchy.
The opening song is a fairly impressive speedster for 1970, particularly that unique intro, but both Purple's own "Black Night" and Sabbath's "Paranoid" were more advanced metallically around the same time and rendered the archaic and completely 60's guitar sound hopelessly retro. Still, tons of classical and even jazzy passages to be found, with some hilarious Ian Gillan screams. Gotta love when a quintessential metal singer does a Little Richard impression. Also note the "house of blue light" line, words which would lend themselves to the second album in Purple's fabled 80's reunion. I'd also like to mention that the playing is much tighter than anything Zeppelin (or anyone else) put out at the time, even if as I mentioned earlier the sound is very out of date.
I'd say that the primary piece of metal influence here is "Bloodsucker". After the rootsy sound of "Speed King" "Bloodsucker" comes across as completely modern and totally classic. That riffage should be burned into your mind, and Gillain writes a truly bravado-filled metal lyric. It's full of that hokey mysticism and machismo that traditional metal is essentially built on, and Gillain is almost frightening as he shrieks and bites off syllables, really proving how much of a predecessor he is to the scenery-chewing antics of forthcoming screamers like Rob Halford and Klaus Meine. I love the final verse the most, Martin Birch (producer) using multitracking and some nifty effects to reduce Gillan's clearly enunciated performance into a frothy, screaming babble. The band is tight as a drum throughout, particularly Ritchie's nifty solo and some of Paice's snappy drum fills.
I'd be lying if I didn't say that I was blindsided by "Child in Time" the first time I heard it, on one of Purple's (approx.) 48 million compilation albums. The song barely registered on my shattered conscious, my mind simply rewinding again and again to ask "How the hell did he do that?!" To be plain, "Child in Time" features the most insanely focused (and just insane) vocal performance of the 70's, and probably of all time. Purple as a band was always perhaps more conscious of what they were doing than Sabbath or Zeppelin, and as a vocal TECHNICIAN Ian Gillan helped to lay the hard road forward that metal would almost always follow, perspiration over inspiration. I mean, Ozzy and Plant could never sing like that. Ozzy got over on personality, Plant on pseudo-mystic BS with the possible exception of the "Immigrant Song", where Plant's somewhat impressive range is dwarfed, pummelled, and in a just world ridiculed for trying to step into Ian Gillan's sonic territory.
Let us not forget though, that there was a band playing behind the wailing banshee in the front, and without their magnificent performances it's likely that Gillan would just sound ridiculous doing his thing. The opening few minutes are gloriously understated, John Lord doing a sparse but nimble organ intro over essentially silence, slowly building in speed and intensity as Glover and Paice come in with some quiet rhythmic pulses in time with the keyboard riff. We finally reach Gillan's entrance, and he sings quietly yet hypnotically, a true master of phrasing and emoting. He sounds almost like a preacher, leading his congregation in prayer over their sins as the hand of fate inexorably strikes them down. Even thought it's a very short piece lyrically, it's such a great narrative and a really philosophical and thought provoking that it sticks with you as you wait for the proverbial ricochet. When was the last time most metal was thought provoking anyway? Certainly not the last few extreme metal releases that's for sure.
Anyway, after the gradual build up we hear Gillan crooning like no one else can, slowly building up to a shattering Wagnerian crescendo as the keyboards soar and the guitars crunch. Ian could shatter glass singing like that! And after he finishes pummelling your ear drums, we get a fucking sweet prog-metal section, some great Glover bass work underneath what has to be Ritchie Blackmore's greatest solo. It just goes on and on before hitting a retro-active Dream Theater deja vu, guitar and organ mingling seemlessly for an impossibly agile neo-classical run over a jazzy beat before rock has such things. Hell, we even get a nasty drum breakdown before cruising back down for a reprise, repeating the devastating operatics at an even higher level and then going mad again to end the song is appropriately earthcrushing fashion. "Child in Time" is one of those inimitable be-all and end-all's in rock music, the best example of opera outside of "Bohemian Rhapsody", and with none of the kitsch factor. This is serious art, and I really wish that bands like Nightwish and Blind Guardian could be as powerful.
Following "Child in Time" is another favourite of mine, a giddy diddler called "Flight of the Rat". This song is infectiously listenable despite its impressive length, fetchingly rock'n'rollsy yet filled with impeccable guitar. Seriously, any song featuring in excess of three Ritchie guitar solos is good in my book. This one is real close to my heart and the delivery on the lyrics exerts an influence on all manner of smiley, happy power metal to this day. So spread the word around, the rat is leaving town... see, I'm supposed to be writing a review and I can't stop singing this motherfucker!
Alas, what follows that divine trio of perfect songs is not nearly so shiny, and a prime example of that crippling lack of consistency I mentioned before. "Into the Fire" is mediocre Aerosmithy hard rock before that existed, and the lyrics are just dumb. Not that any of the others outside of "Child in Time" have been MENSA level, but I think the group could do better. So far as I can tell it's about a woman getting stoned and masturbating to a Deep Purple song. That's confidence, lemme tell ya. "Living Wreck" on the other hand is possessed of absolutely hilarious lyrics, but isn't a particularly good listen. Gillan would get better at storytelling on songs like the (wearysome) classic "Smoke on the Water", but this one lacks push and drive.
I have to admit, "Hard Lovin' Man" is both propulsive and modern, and it's very much a forerunner of the manic proto-speed of Judas Priest circa-1976, but it's also overlong, boring, and has too many solos. Too many solos?! From a reviewer who gave Images & Words a 95? Well, let me rephrase. The Blackmore solos are awesome, and the Lord solos (and he gets several) sound like he was having a seisure and rolling all over his Hammond organ. Oh, and Gillan doesn't really seem to be singing with the song precisely and his performance is histrionic and somewhat lacklustre. I do repeat though, this is a seriously cool riff that does not sound at all like anything else in 1970.
In Rock is an album that is ahead of it's time, but also hurt by the fact that it is in many ways OF it's time. If you want to assemble all of the puzzle pieces that went into the metal of today, this is a must. But if you just want a really good piece of hard rock or heavy metal, you know what? It's a must for you too.
Stand-Outs: “Child in Time”, “Bloodsucker”, “Flight of the Rat”
In 1970 something magnificent happend, Metal was created by Black Sabbath ... so everybody seems to think. But hey, haven´t we forgot something? Yes indeed, back then, wasn´t this also the birth of another legendary album? Five faces carved out of stone, a monument in rock history.
„Black Sabbath“, the self titled doomish opener of their debut definitly opened the gates for a new era. But on the other hand, no one should forget the rather raw and speedy effort of „In Rock“. Except for the title track, Black Sabbath first album is much more blues orientated (which naturally doesn´t mean that it´s bad) then the concise and straightforward rockers that were created by Deep Purple.
It all comes together on here, a top notch shouter like Ian Gillan, the distinct raw sound of Ritchie Blackmores guitar playing, Jon Lords weird Hammond organ (sometimes taking over the rythm guitar parts), the ever rolling drums of Ian Paice and Roger Glovers fat rumbling bass. Oh, and by the way, how does Ritchie manage to let his guitar sound like some clanging steel bars?
The album starts off with the brutal guitar distortion attack of „Speed king“. I´ve never heard any release beginning like this until today, it´s absolutely crazy. A short organ bridge leads then to a fucking rocking heavy song with an organ/guitar duelling solo part and some insane shouting from Gillan´s side. „Bloodsucker“ follows as cool midpaced rythm piece.
What´s next ... so you don´t know? Maybe you´re dead as a coffin nail because you missed „Child in time“ until today. This 10+ minute monster slowly builds up from an organ intro to one of he most memorable guitar solos and shouting in rock history, sustained by a superb rythm section. After 6 minutes an abrupt cut starts the second coming, which ends in a total freak out.
„Flight of the rat“ is constant roller with extensive solo parts, „Into the fire“ features a fat guitar sound and „Into the fire“ represents the most avarage song on here.
UltraBoris claims the beginning of speed metal for Deep Purple´s „Highway star“, but in my opinion the history starts right here with the main riff and drumming of „Hard lovin man“. This solo laden track closes the album in perfect manner.
So what´s left to say? This is essential, this is history, and as many wrote for other releases: if you don´t know it ... get it for your own sake!!