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The second album from Deep Purple is also one of their most underrated albums. Like 'Shades Of Deep Purple', fans look back on this record and dismiss it, in no small part due to the fact that it features more cover tracks. Although there is a greater wealth of original material here, it is hoped that a band would have started focusing solely on their own material by this point, but in any case, 'The Book Of Taliesyn' is a small step in the right direction for this archetypal hard rock ensemble. Another psychedelic-tinged, organ driven slice of hard rock, Deep Purple's music may still not have been golden at this point, but contrary to the disdain that the album has received, there is some great stuff to behold here.
All things considered, the album is fairly diverse for its time. 'Listen, Learn, Read On' has a few psychedelic effects on the vocals to make things sound a little spacier, and the lyrical themes revolve around medieval, fantasy based topics that really add to the charm of the band. 'Wring That Neck' is an instrumental that shows the heaviness of the band, as well as the great talent of their keyboardist (and brightest shining star at this point) Jon Lord. Richie Blackmore has some nice solos on this album finally, but it would be a while before he started really coming onto his own as the guitar hero he is considered today. 'Shield' and 'Anthem' are two strong tracks that aptly describe the band's sound at the time, even bringing sounds of classical music into the mix; something that was not heard much at the time. Deep Purple even bring their own unique sound to the Beatles cover 'We Can Work It Out', adding a long proggy instrumental introduction that really makes the track their own.
A problem that 'The Book Of Taliesyn' really does struggle with is the production, which often feels a little too ambitious given the technology at the time. While Deep Purple can't be put down for wanting to incorporate alot of sounds into their album, 'Taliesyn' does tend to get a little muddy and too distorted at times, especially with the dense organ sounds. Deep Purple's sophomore is a very good album, but this is a problem that does tend to take away from the ferocity of the performance, and there were parts where the production really felt as if it got in the way of enjoyment. Deep Purple would keep getting better from here, taking this potential and running with it a little more on their self-titled follow-up to this album. 'The Book Of Taliesyn' is a good album on its own merit though, and while it is not excellent or particularly engaging, Deep Purple does deserve more credit for this album than what they get.