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Metal-Archive's Methuselah - 65%

Superchard, August 31st, 2018

Deep Purple have come to be well-known for their blazing hot rock n' roll and proto-speed metal over countless albums, especially with Ian Gillan and to a lesser extent Glenn Hughes on vocals. This early on in 1968, Deep Purple were far, far away from concocting this formula and for those who don't know, Shades of Deep Purple is in no way a heavy metal album. It happens to be the oldest album on the Metal-Archives website, but it would be a couple more years until Black Sabbath would definitively come up with what can universally be agreed up on as heavy metal. This album; on the other hand, isn't too far off from the hard rock one could expect to hear in the late 1960's alongside other proto-metal acts such as Blue Cheer and Gun. There's some really intense energy created by the relationship that the band members create here and there like on "Prelude: Happiness", but the overall album is a pretty mellow pop-rock affair.

Consisting of four covers and two instrumentals, it's not the most original or musically integral album that hard rock has to offer and because the album is half-way to being a cover album I've been inclined to skip listening to it over all the other Deep Purple albums. The original material on here is all an excellent start for these would-be lifetime musicians though, "One More Rainy Day" being my personal favorite of the original tracks. Chances are most people have heard "Hush" on classic rock radio, which is indicative of the overall sound the album has going for it bar few exceptions such as the chaotic pounding fury of "Mandrake Root". It's a behemoth of a Deep Purple song that makes one wish that much more that they'd not been so lazy and just write an album comprised of all original material. The only thing these covers did for this album was put Deep Purple on the map, which was a good thing in retrospect when you consider that most bands won't make it past a sophomore release.

I think Deep Purple could've gone either way, personally. They had enough fuel between Blackmore and Lord alone to come up with something brilliant this early on as opposed to making an album that took as long to make as you'd imagine: two days. Yep, 48 hours was all the now legendary Deep Purple spent on making their debut album, let that one sink in when you listen to their somber take of The Beatles "Help Me", at least they took the initiative not to make a carbon copy cover and instead go the creative route to put their own original spin on everything. They even turned that Jimi Hendrix popularized cover of "Hey Joe" originally done by The Leaves and turned it into a seven minute marching psychedelic epic.

The great thing about this album, is that it was 1968 and Frank Zappa hadn't yet influenced the law to regulate how many full length albums a band could put out in a year's time. So if anything Shades of Deep Purple is a bonus for Deep Purple fans from an era where if they wanted, they could've put out three different albums all on the same day if they wanted to in a time when the music industry wasn't as regulated. Still though, I'd have a hard time convincing myself that a cover album is worth listening to, or spending money on for that matter. Not a bad start for the band if we're being technical about what's here, thankfully they cut out all the dead weight for their sophomore release, The Book of Taliesyn, which was a far superior album in every way and consisted of the same exact lineup. So if you prefer Rod Evans smooth velvety baritone over Ian Gillan's manic screams, there's still a couple more Deep Purple albums out there just for you.

A weak start from a great band - 35%

ZoltanTheHun, December 2nd, 2017

I have never heard the first Deep Purple album before. I knew their style was commercial at the beginning, and that it was not particularly good, but I didn't expect this mediocrity. The first thing that came to my mind that this is the kind of flower rock which clearly inspired one particular segment of the Spinal Tap movie.

The album starts mildly interesting, the intro tune is all instrumental, it has a car commercial feel, but the tone is bearable: a boogie rhythm decorated with solo sections. Then it starts with the first cover, Hush which is probably the highlight of the album: a very lively bass leads the song supported by well-articulated drums, and the singer and the organ sits smoothly on the top of this. Covers were common for new bands in the 1960s and Deep Purple was no exception to that. Their covers are more miss than a hit though, as the other covers on this album are barely listenable. There were bands who were able to revitalize songs in the 60s (The Rolling Stones for example), but this does not work out well for Deep Purple. Part of it is probably the perspective, the late 60s cheesiness is too much for my modern stomach and on the other hand their sound is either overtly derivative or just wrecks the feeling of the original song totally.

The band tries to explore all genre of the 60s, from the ballads through instrumental rock to psychedelia. There were bands who did similar thing at the time, but it is hard to fine one that did this well within one album. Deep Purple fails in this regard, mainly because their songs sound more like second rate copies of the originals: the parallels with The Beatles, The Ventures or The Yardbirds are obvious.

I think the main reason for this overall sub par quality is the warmup exercise nature of the album, it is like some lighthearted jam to get the band, which just freshly assembled at the time, together. It is clear that Blackmore was far from his eclectic star form, he is put into the background most of the time. There is some experimentation, sometimes it is even interesting, but the band cannot decide if they want to do pop or prog rock. Something that was apparent in the first few years of their career.

There is a little present from Jon Lord's signature sound already, and the musicianship is OK for the rest of the team. Interestingly, the remastered version has very good sound quality. Definitely 60s sounding, but at least all instruments are audible, which is not a standard quality for an album even today.

But this can not alleviate the root problem, therefore I would call the album a failure. It is heavily derivative, and it lacks direction. There were many young lads in the 1960s whom nailed down their first album much better than the Purple.

Highlights: Hush

Slave To The Groove - 95%

SweetLeaf95, November 18th, 2017

It absolutely baffles me that so many people act surprised over the fact that half of this record is littered with covers. This wasn't uncommon in the '60s (or even '50s)! Look at all of the early Beatles records. Please Please Me, With The Beatles, etc. This was reminiscent of live shows, showcasing some original material, yet playing many covers to keep outsiders interested. One of Elvis's biggest hits is a cover! So let's not allow this to bring the beauty of this down, seeing it's probably in the top five greatest Deep Purple records. Yeah yeah, this is before Gillian and Glover joined the band, Rod Evans was the singer, it was trippy compared to most Deep Purple, it's not really metal, blah blah blah, let's skip the stuff that everyone else has touched on, as well as being irrelevant to what makes an album great.

Well for starters, the atmosphere on this record is vital to the overall experience, especially if you own it on vinyl to just help add to the overall effect. Groovy bass-lines and wild drum beats are what really lay the foundation for all of this, allowing it to stand apart from most of their discography, even other early records. But what really drives it the whole way home is Jon Lord's superior keyboard licks, drilling deep within every single track, acting as the lead role. Most of the time, it's promoted to the front over Blackmore's guitar work, as he takes control in the rhythm areas most of the time. "And The Address", the opening instrumental is one example where this isn't the case, and you can catch early hints of what a guitar God he is soon to become. But others, "Mandrake Roots", "One More Rainy Day" and "Love Help Me", he drives the rhythms along with steady but considerably harder riffs. Not to say he never breaks away with a solo, but the keyboards are absolutely crucial. Speaking of which, these also display a great deal of surf rock influence, especially with "Love Help Me". Rod Evans couldn't have done a better job with delivering fun and energetic vocals to go with this.

If songs such as "Help!" and "Hey Joe" weren't such big hits, you'd think it's original material. Why? Because they make the songs their own, coming off very different. "Help!" and "I'm So Glad" both proceed with intros that were not in the originals, as well as altering both to fit the theme and overall vibe of this record some more. And of course, the classic "Hush" can't be missed either, and falls right into place after the opening instrumental piece. Whether it be slowing them down (that being the case with the Beatles), or just adding a surf/bluesy touch to them, these are phenomenal versions of these tracks.

The ultimate achievement here is the way that it utilizes melody the whole way through, maintaining the same sound and idea without getting boring at any parts of this. Fancy keyboard work adds spice to it, creative guitar licks and rhythms follow every track from start to finish, and backing vocals also bestow this beast. "Love Help Me" is probably the greatest track on here, hitting the surf-rock aspect the hardest, taking the backing vocals to great lengths, and including just about everything that makes Shades Of Deep Purple great, compiled into just one track. Maybe some lyrics are rather cheesy, maybe it's half covers, and maybe it isn't what the typical Deep Purple fan looks for. One way or the other, this is a criminally overlooked album, and I recommend it to anyone reading this.

Half-cover band, half-potential great rock band - 68%

Doominance, June 22nd, 2016

'Shades of Deep Purple' is Deep Purple's debut album, released in 1968. The original line-up featured Nick Simper on bass and backing vocals and Rod Evans handling lead vocals, alongside the "core members" that of Ritchie Blackmore, Jon Lord and Ian Paice. This is a line-up often overlooked, since Mk II with Ian Gillan on vocals and Roger Glover on bass, as well as Mk III with Dave Coverdale on vocals and Glenn Hughes handling the bass and backing vocals duties, are vastly more successful, and for good reason.

The reason for this, apart from Deep Purple MK I being a very new, thus green band, is that they seemed to be big fans of covering music written by others - something that would decrease with time - but alas, on 'Shades of Deep Purple', the band has covered four songs out of a total of nine; with two songs by the band themselves being entirely instrumental. Album opener "And the Address" is one such instrumental track, but is actually a very enjoyable one, as it shows that the guitar wizardry of Blackmore was present from the earliest days of Deep Purple. It's quickly followed by "Hush", originally by Billy Joe Royal, which is one of the highlights of this album. It's a fun and instantly recognisable tune with an infectious "na na na na" a la "Hey Jude" by the Beatles - a band whose music is also covered on 'Shades of Deep Purple - namely, "Help". This is another highlight, since Deep Purple went away from the poppy and very accessible nature of the original and turned it into a slow, soulful psychedelic rock song.

"Mandrake Root", a song by Deep Purple themselves, is perhaps the ultimate highlight; not only for that reason, but also because it's very typical Deep Purple. It's obviously rooted (no pun intended) in blues, with a healthy dose of sleazy rock 'n' roll akin to the Rolling Stones, and it proves that the band could absolutely craft an excellent song themselves. What becomes even clearer is the exceptional talent possessed by the members of the band, especially Blackmore and Lord, who share a long solo-section that has a snake charming quality to it.

All in all, 'Shades of Deep Purple' is a fine late 60s hard rock album. It has no truly spectacular moments, and while it pales in comparison to the band's later work - particularly 'Deep Purple in Rock', 'Machine Head', 'Burn' and 'Perfect Strangers', it hasn't really got any bad moments either. A middle-of-the-pack album.

Deep Purple - Shades Of Deep Purple - 60%

ConorFynes, July 5th, 2011

The debut album from this massive hard rock band, Deep Purple's 'Shades Of Deep Purple' is met with some ambivalence. Setting aside the fact that this is an album without the band's best singer Ian Gillian, 'Shades Of Deep Purple' is often overlooked for the fact that it is composed greatly of cover songs rather than original material, although there are still a few songs here that the band wrote themselves. Taken for what it is, this debut is actually quite good, and really sets the stage for more successful music in the future.Surprisingly enough, the cover songs are the real draw to this album, but as the inventive rockers that they are, the covers are really made their own, taking 'Shades' from the forgettable album that many deem it to be, to a fairly interesting place in rock history.

While the bluesy 'Mandrake Root' will attract the most attention from Deep Purple fans (due to the fact that it has met a great deal of performances in live settings), I find myself most attracted to the covers that the band has done here. 'Hush' is a fairly well known single that got the band out there, and Deep Purple does it well; a memorable track with a catchy hook or two. The cover of the Beatles song 'Help!' is likely my favourite pick from the album though; it really shows what I mean about Deep Purple making these songs their own. While the original track was fairly upbeat and catchy, Deep Purple turns the song into a drawn out psychedelic experience. This is very refreshing to hear, especially from an album that is almost half a century old by this point.

The band was certainly heavier than most at the time, but they still have ample loads of British pop in their sound, especially when it comes to the vocals. Although not as good as Gillian, Rod Evans does a good job of fronting the band.

'Shades Of Deep Purple' is a nice start for this band, and while the abundance of covers is certainly controversial, I really think that Deep PUrple goes beyond reprising the hits of the day and makes these classic tracks into something new oand original, sometimes almost to the point where they could be considered originals unto themselves. There is nothing particularly excellent here and Deep Purple would certainly go on to much better things, but this should be an interesting experience for anyone wanting a nice piece of hard rock from the late 60's.

One of metal’s most primordial oozes - 82%

Gutterscream, April 21st, 2011
Written based on this version: 1968, 12" vinyl, Tetragrammaton Records

“…vibrant flashes in my mind remind me of a foregone time…”

Most members of the Metal Archives are about two decades removed from the sixties - twenty years of proposed retrospect that, in the eyes of metal’s hardened beast, only sporadically enjoy reconsideration. A time of bell bottoms, drug culture, and 15" color TVs, so what does this epoch offer a musical style that barely existed even in the seventies, right up to its far-off cusp of the '80s? Punk never fails to realize its ‘60s roots, embracing even the most minuscule and transitional of influence like victory, bruised chin held high, from The Who and The Kinks to Les Goths, Deviants, The Ugly Ducklings, The Breakers, Richard & The Young Lions, and many more that strafed the bottom layer of radar. Sometimes it truly amazes me that metal apparently doesn’t want anything to do with the decade that sprouted the universe’s most celebrated concert, fired the first shots in the revolution of sexuality, and saw us take the Moon as our own.

Commonly a victim of youthful repression nowadays, the ‘60s was a significant one-way, multi-dimensional cycle in music’s lifetime. Music’s lifetime - one-way in its surge forward that often looks back over forty five years yet has never returned and multi-dimensional in its groundbreaking musical contraption that stumbled bravely across rock’s primary colors of beat, r&b, psychedelia, and progressivism.

Time, unavoidably steadfast in its livelihood, shows no mercy. Change folds and draws another unsympathetic hand.

Soon beat and psych dwindle as r&b and progressive flourish. Elementary rock hardens, becoming jagged and more unforgiving. And eventually dark. Alas, it’s unfortunate some musical styles are often judged not by what motivates them intrinsically, but what the lyrics are about. “All they ever sing about is love and tulips, man”. Yep, and teddy bears and picnics and ’66 Corvettes. Well, shortly certain attitudes toward rock will transmute, evolve with a bitter edge, and travel to more dangerous, foreboding places the endless summer of The Beach Boys would never have admitted existed, let alone tread. But this is still in the future, and I’m getting ahead of myself. Come ’68, very few bands were shroud in darkness. Hard rock itself barely eked out an existence, still crimson with the blood of new life that was, in fact, always present, conscious in a diluted state of oppression, shackled by the chart-born chains of ‘pop’ fleetingly rattled by the style’s brutish underbreath. But instead of concerning ourselves with how dark or ominous a style is, let’s just worry about the style’s base self.

Oh, and early ‘80s metal isn’t winning any awards with its lyrical gravity, either.

Shades of… is the band at their most simplistic and expected, the line-up (now known as the Mk 1 line-up) coalescing from less-than-haughty sources, the most prominent being Nick Simper and Jon Lord coming off a ’67 hit single with The Flower Pot Men while Ritchie Blackmore backed Screaming Lord Sutch for a short time. Recorded in a single weekend in May ’68, this hurried album fuses rock’s four corners to the same foundation, offering minimal leadership to new styles and is steeped in cover tunes. Ordinarily a description such as this would be an album’s death knell or at least the average and forgettable arrival of one, but somewhere within these grooves stirred a questionable chemistry that somehow got off the ground, ignored the abusive number of non-originals that was common for bands looking for a quick hit and/or were insecure in their own songwriting wares, and managed to survive until the vaunted Mk 2 membership. I’m not going to sit here and tell you there are ocean voyages of cognition swirling throughout Shades of…, but at a time when innovation wasn’t the day’s top order to record companies, a few catchy hooks ornamenting an original work or found premeditated in a cover could aid a group’s chart ascension (as “Hush”, the invention of Joe South, already had). Songwriting may have only been as good as the ears that heard it.

Shades of… is testimony to the cover song's widespread acceptance, adorned with no less than four, some more daring than others, the most prevalent being the near chart-topping (#4 in the US) “Hush”, a more keyboard-laden rendition I’m sure everyone has heard at one time or another. The cover of Skip James’ “I’m So Glad” glides smoothly over the verses and chorus, but during the instrumental phase extrapolates an already tempestuous song (for ’31), meanwhile “Hey Joe”, already recorded to the hilt by other artists that would become a freak hit for a new-on-the-solo-scene Hendrix, is redirected at times with bolero-style keys and a Holst-like march, but much of the time travels parallel to Jimi’s blues-wrought arrangement. The best would come with the Beatles’ “Help”, depressing the original’s eager pop appeal with Rod Evans’ melancholic drawl, blurs of wicked keyboard, a more cerebral ideal more suited toward the lyrics, and is mindful of Vanilla Fudge‘s dreary, mood-enervating rendition of The Supremes’ “You Keep Me Hanging On” of the previous year. Word has it the band received a praising call from Paul McCartney shortly afterward, a thrill for them no doubt.

Despite some recollections, with the dreamily plush “One More Rainy Day” and up-grooved “Love Help Me” the only full-blown original pop tunes on the disk, Shades of… isn’t the sugar snack it’s sometimes regarded as. But even these songs are well constructed if not mainstream-ly so, sounding like any one of the hundred or so songs populating a Nuggets box set.

“Mandrake Root” and “Prelude: Happiness” are more epic in their holographic daze as sure-handed Jon Lord, perhaps the most toweringly-executed player on this thing, lays down the songs’ progressivism with his mazy Hammond as Ian Paice backs him up with chaotic tribal percussion while Ritchie Blackmore, not yet the renown string sorcerer, throws some fuzzy garage chops into the fray. It’s within this pair of tunes that this lp’s weight of hard rock is hatched through a creation of keyboards and drums that oddly succeed over guitars with heaviness still cognitively blind and writhing like most newborns, somewhat realized previously by the likes of Blue Cheer, The Jeff Beck Group, and some unwittingly valiant effortless efforts from Hendrix, and great monolithic side-starter “Mandrake Root” holds the only fleeting, pre-patented “Smoke on the Water”-ish sneer on the platter. Opening instrumental “And the Address” allows Lord and Blackmore to share equal ground, spotlighting a guitar-driven element that isn’t as invasive on the lp as one would have expected nowadays, hindsight withstanding.

For what this album is, it’s quite good. For what this album isn’t...well, what can you expect from five guys that, prior to this, had only been playing with each other as a whole for about five months, rushed by two London businessmen to record not only a debut single, but a debut full-lengther (that would peak at #24 in the US, mind you). Only briefly with keyboard-urged zaniness does Shades of… scrape itself on hard rock let alone metal, but the brain stem for it all is here, and I don’t mind looking upon this era as not only a metal victory, but in magical retrospect that I can only consume within the confines of stories told by those who were there.

“…it looks like the world’s been born…”

A future so bright you have to have Shades - 83%

marktheviktor, July 22nd, 2010

Early heavy metal albums are awesome! When I mean early, I'm talking about a couple of choice psychedelic rock records by that precede 1970; the year the Black Sabbath and In Rock albums came out to kick off true heavy metal. Of course the band that authored the latter album is the same one who did the one of topic for this review so it stands to reason that it can be one of the very few to be deemed a "retro-active" heavy metal albums.

Deep Purple was one of my gateway bands to getting into heavy metal. Growing up as a kid, I loved psychedelic rock and so it made perfect sense that I should start with an album like this. I remember seeing a television commercial for this band when I was nine years old and thought they were very "old school" heavy. It wasn't until I was around twenty that I started superficially checking them out by flipping through their albums in a giant record store in Hong Kong. If you're wondering why then I only looked and not listened, well you have to remember this was before the age of widespread use of the internet or mp3s and so I couldn't exactly afford blind purchases( very few shops allowed you to sample anything either). Anyway from what I took away looking through all those albums they put out was that they looked to be like a poor man's Led Zeppelin but heavier. I didn't get around to buying anything from them until a couple years later only to find out I was half right. Yes, they were heavier than Zeppelin (though not in this late 60's era) yet not heavier nor darker than Black Sabbath's music. What I (and still many others today) didn't realize was that for a time of about, oh, 1970 to 1972, Deep Purple was actually a much bigger concert draw and therefore bigger band than Led Zeppelin. Hell, Purple had use of and their name written on The Starship private jet before Zeppelin did. So my assumption that they were a "poor man's" version of Jimmy Page's band was not entirely accurate. One band lasted longer in their prime and had more success in the United States is all.

Shades of Deep Purple is pretty small time, however. It's a bluesy, sometimes gloomy psychedelic rock debut released on Bill Cosby's record label Tetragrammaton in 1968. Hush is a noted single that has gotten much play on the classic rock air waves as well as a long time staple in their concerts. Rod Evans is a strong singer for this early period of the band that would become better known when one Ian Gillan joined. For you more modern minded metal fans, I guess Evans could be said to be Deep Purple's equivalent to Paul Di'Anno from Iron Maiden past fame. Although I doubt there is any sizeable base of fans with an affinity for Evans over Gillan or even Glenn Hughes, David Coverdale or Joe Lynne Turner for that matter. Shades is a damn good early album with it's own merits nonetheless. It doesn't sound a thing like their later era albums of course. But the album for me at least is a great showcase for the early styles of writing and playing by Ritchie Blackmore. Like Jimmy Page, he started out as a studio session player for other artists in the sixties. His solos on here have that fuzz drive typical of late psychedelic rock as heard from bands like Iron Butterfly but more proficient. Ian Paice has drumming near identical to Ginger Baker's style from Cream. But probably the one defining aspect of the band to distinguish Deep Purple from their hard rock/heavy metal contemporaries of the time is of course Jon Lord's organ work. If you've heard Machine Head and all the other classic albums, you can pretty much tell it was a useful holdover from the very heady days of 60's psychedelia as found here. It's as much a musical trademark with the band as the flute was with Jethro Tull.

And The Address has that very thing when that organ rumble revs up. It's an instrumental that contains some groovy rhythms peppered with colorful electric riffs from Ritchie. Then comes on the extremely catchy Joe South cover Hush. I've always considered this track to be the prototype of Smoke on the Water because both songs are set up almost exactly the same; length, simplicity, breaks, chorus and solo placement and of course Jon Lord's organ playing to move it along at an electrified pace. I myself like Hush better than that song's studio version however. It's faster and the bass lines are woven in better to give it a livelier spirit. Plus I like how the build up tops out.

One More Rainy Day might seem like a very poppy track with that chorus but I really like this song and it still sounds consistent with the rest of the album. Nick Simper's bass again is very loud and it gives a slight atmosphere of gloom to offset the superficial happy sound of the vocals. I also enjoy Ritchie's licks on it as they have a rich ringing out on the later part of the track. The next track is labeled as a suite but basically it's little more than an extended intro tagged with another simple pop-oriented song. There's an almost stern transition by Ritchie that sounds like something I heard from a song I liked from The Guess Who. There are really only several different lyrics with the bulk of it being 'I'm so glad' over and over. This is another good song overall mostly because of Blackmore's guitar work especially in that solo. Mandrake Root has a beginning that sounds alot like something from Cream with it's classic rockish blues electric feel but it whirls into an orgy of solos much like The Mule from the later Fireball record.

There's not many Beatles songs that I can say had covers that were anything close to good as the originals. However, DP's cover of Help is the one song that actually trumps the Lennon/McCartney one. The lyrics for the original were way too upbeat and I agree that Deep Purple's version gives them a better appropriateness with a slowed down and cloudy tone. Evans enunciates the lines with a catchy aura of longing. I was quite taken with that wistful organ passage at the end. Another "help" song follows called Love Help Me and this other song sounds more in line with the Beatles than the Help cover. Aside from that, Love Help Me sounds more in particular like Strawberry Alarm Clock. It's very upbeat and has those same type of cheerful backing wails like Incense and Peppermints had along with those buzzy guitar fills. Lyrics like 'hoping someday for good news waiting for that girl choose' sounds like something Brian Wilson would write but again, this is still a great early Purple song that I enjoy for what it is and when it came out.

I will come out and say it right now that Shades of Deep Purple is essential to have among In Rock, Fireball and Machine Head. Ritchie Blackmore is a great guitarist and his writing was something amazing even back in the band's start up days. As you can tell, this was not one of those bands that fizzled out after a catchy psychedelic album. This may only be a prelude of heavy metal to come from these guys but it should be valued for the loudness and instrumental gifts that the band had to display.