DEEP PURPLE — Deep Purple In Rock (review)

DEEP PURPLE — Deep Purple In Rock album cover Album · 1970 · Hard Rock Buy this album from MMA partners
5/5 ·
Let us not get into an endless debate about whether "In Rock" is metal or not. Though a good many people would not consider it as such by today's standards, it is without any possible doubt one of the landmarks of the whole history of rock music - the blueprint for the later exploits of thousands of hard rock and heavy metal bands. Released in 1970, "In Rock" saw one of the most incredible musical ensembles ever come together for the first time - a redoubtable fivesome boasting Ian Gillan's stratospheric vocals (the voice that launched a thousand screamers, though no one as talented as himself), the rock-solid rhythm section of Ian Paice and Roger Glover, Jon Lord's masterful, classically-influenced Hammond prowess, but especially Ritchie Blackmore's fiery yet elegant, immensely influential guitar playing. As the years to come were to prove, it was an extremely volatile mixture, which nevertheless managed to produce a series of essential albums for the development of the harder-edged incarnations of rock music.

That said, "In Rock" is also much more progressive than one might think, the best example of how Deep Purple managed to blend their symphonic roots with diamond-hard rock being the immortal "Child in Time". Although it has been often indicted of plagiarizing It's A Beautiful Day's "Bombay Calling", this song has rightly become legendary, especially thanks to the incendiary version included in 1972's live album "Made in Japan". Its solemn, organ-driven intro leads the way for a vocal performance by Ian Gillan which many singers would kill for, and climaxes with a guitar solo that no words can rightly describe (spoken like a true Blackmore fangirl!). Opener "Speed King" is another undisputed classic, with Blackmore's distorted guitar immediately setting the scene and Lord's Hammond providing a pulsating, relentless background, while Gillan screams his way through the song with wild abandon.

The remaining tracks are not as widely known (with the exception of hit single "Black Night", a rather straightforward yet irresistible song, whose original version is included in the 30th Anniversary edition of the record), though in no way less worthy of attention. A particular mention should go to the long, musically accomplished "Hard Lovin' Man" (dedicated to legendary producer Martin Birch, who went on to make stars out of Iron Maiden), with dazzling performances from all band members. All the songs, in fact, have a much more progressive structure than they are usually given credit for, based as they are on the unleashed power of Blackmore's guitar duelling with Lord's majestic, driving Hammond.

The 30th Anniversary edition contains some added bonus tracks, including alternative versions of "Black Night" and "Speed King", but most notably an unreleased instrumental called "Jam Stew", in which Blackmore is very much in evidence. However, even without any bonuses, this album would be an essential addition to ANY music collection. Would a lot Progressive Metal exist without "In Rock" paving the way? This is the stuff legends are made of. Crank it up, and enjoy.
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