DEEP PURPLE — The Book Of Taliesyn (review)

DEEP PURPLE — The Book Of Taliesyn album cover Album · 1968 · Proto-Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
3/5 ·
siLLy puPPy
Recorded only three months after their debut, DEEP PURPLE quickly released their sophomore followup THE BOOK OF TALIESYN which continued all the traits of “Shades Of Deep Purple” with a mix of originals and covers, however despite the basic similarities that include different styles such as psychedelic and hard rock mixed with classical music arrangements interspersed throughout, THE BOOK OF TALIESYN nurtured these ideas even further with more sophisticated compositional approaches that are now regarded as some of the earliest proto-prog archetypes of the late 60s despite the fact that the album was mainly aimed at the hippie crowds in the US where it was released in October 1968. DEEP PURPLE surprisingly was completely ignored in the UK (where it was held back until 69) with their earliest albums until they became so popular in a few short years (with “In Rock”) that they could not be ignored any longer.

The album title is a slightly alternate spelling taken from the 14th-century Book Of Taliesin which is one of the most famous of all Middle Welsh manuscripts that were attributed to the bard which was famous for setting a wide number of moods in the Medieval courts in the days of King Arthur in Camelot. Likewise the album THE BOOK OF TALIESYN is a loose concept album attempting to evoke the same sense of diverse mood shifts that a bard would propose in the context of the situation. The album contains seven tracks that range from spunky little blues rockers such as the opener “Listen, Learn, Read On,” “Exposition” and other segments in different tracks which all all tinged with a period glaze of psychedelic keyboard embellishments that deviate into fantastic classical musical expeditions which finds Jon Lord dishing out some impressive keyboard playing that was only rivaled by Keith Emerson in The Nice.

The original tracks were composed by Ritchie Blackmore, original vocalist Rod Evans, Jon Lord and Ian Paice making the early episodes of DEEP PURPLE very democratic in nature. Ironically the album cover art (which is my favorite of the DP canon) was created by John Vernon Lord (no relation to the keyboardist). There are three cover tracks as well. The most popular track of this album is the Neil Diamond cover “Kentucky Woman” and the two part track that begins with “Exposition” cedes into a woefully out of place more bluesy rendition of the Beatles’ “We Can Work It Out.” The final cover and in my opinion, the best track on the album comes as the closer and is an excellent cover of Ike & Tina Turner’s “River Deep, Mountain High” which introduces a new highly developed progressive rock approach to the band’s resume as it churns out over ten minutes of satisfying musical changes taken Ike & Turner’s funky soul domain into surreal psychedelic and classically tinged progressive rock territory.

At this point DEEP PURPLE was far from a household name and listening to THE BOOK OF TALIESYN these days give few clues to the world class act they would become in their Mark II days. While this album is satisfying on many levels, it feels like they were trying to pull off too many ideas that never feel resolved. The mix of psychedelic bluesy rock mixed with outbursts of classical keyboard segments display veritable exciting ideas gestating in the midst and there are even moments where the chugging of the guitar and riff sound like they are ready to break into such classics as “Highway Star” however for the most part the album soars along in psychedelic blues rock mode and while Rod Evans certainly had the perfect voice for the 60s hippie scene, he lacked the overall powerful effects that Ian Gillan added down the road. Fans of DEEP PURPLE should certainly check out these interesting origins even if all the proper elements hadn’t quite coalesced in a totally satisfying way. Not a bad way to get your groove on. The newer remastered versions are quite superior to the original as far as i’ve heard.
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siLLy puPPy wrote:
1 year ago
Thanks Bosh66, my favorite is the next eponymous one but this one had really good tracks. Parts of it rubbed me the wrong way hence only 3 stars. That cover is phenomenal though.
Vim Fuego wrote:
1 year ago
I was very surprised how good these early albums were when I finally got around to listening to them.
Bosh66 wrote:
1 year ago
Good review Mike. This was always my favourite of the Mark 1 releases. The cover of River Deep, Mountain High is more than a tad different to the original but I always really liked it.
666sharon666 wrote:
1 year ago
Reviewer's Challenge points: 2

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