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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