Thursday, 16 July 2009

Deep Purple Rides Again

Although I didn’t actually meet any strange kinda women, it has been a bit of a Deep Purple week. Firstly, I note with barely disguised knowingness that the riff from ‘Smoke on the Water’ was awarded ‘Best Guitar Riff Ever’ by some survey of worthies, ahead of ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’, ‘Walk This Way’, ‘Purple Haze’ and ‘Sweet Child o’ Mine’. Well, duh!

The standard joke here is that it is claimed that all budding guitarists play this riff when trying out Flying Vs and Fender Stratocaster replicas in music shops to the annoyance of all concerned. But it’s true. When I last visited London’s Chappells music emporium, then located in Bond Street, many years ago to replace my aged acoustic guitar, I tell you no lie, someone was actually playing Smoke on the Water, very badly. You couldn’t help but laugh! I never went in for this sort of thing, but just played a few chords furtively to check the action and made my decision. I mean, who wants to show the world how badly you play?

The second Deep Purple moment came when I raided my sisters CD collection with a view to listening to something new and amongst all the 70s disco, came across a copy of ‘Stormbringer’. This was an album that I bought (on vinyl) when it came out in 1974 but because it followed the rock-outs of ‘Machine Head’ and ‘Burn’, I didn’t really think much of it, thus it was actually the last Deep Purple album I ever bought and indeed, I subsequently sold about ten years later. At this point in their long and tortuous life, Purple were in Mk III configuration having replaced singer Ian Gillan with David Coverdale and bassist Roger Glover with Glen Hughes. The changes made a fundamental difference to their sound that predecessor, ‘Burn’ didn’t really reveal. ‘Stormbringer’ did.

However, listening to it again has mellowed my view. Originally I didn’t like it precisely because it wasn’t in the same mould as previous Purple hard rock albums, but now I quite like some of it for the very same reason. In retrospect, the parts I like are the funky, bluesy tracks but not the rather clichéd rock tracks. Interestingly, I listen to ‘Burn’ less and less despite loving it in 1973. This is when you realise that you have a sort of creeping movement in your appreciation of musical style and that your choices very rarely stay still over time.

The test comes when re-evaluating stuff that you used to love years ago only to find that it is scarcely listenable. It’s the bands that you can still bear to listen to that show how good they really were.

Now, dare I listen to those Mk IV Purple albums with Tommy Bolin?


Charlie said...

"Well, Duh!" is right! There is no doubt about it. Nothing will ever top the riff from "Smoke On the Water." Martin, I couldn't have found better words to express it myself!

musicobsessive said...

Hi Charlie. Thanks for kind words. The only drawback to SOTW is its constant abuse by trainee guitarists!

drewzepmeister said...

The MK II line up always rocked! Saw Deep Purple in concert during their Perfect Strangers reunion tour. LOUD, but excellent! I think Perfect Strangers is excellent album!

Actually, I prefer Burn over Stormbringer. It rocked at lot harder. I can always rock out to the title track.

Come Taste the Band...Eh!

musicobsessive said...

Hi Drew - I always liked Burn over Stormbringer and probably still do but the gap has narrowed!

I never saw them live and I'm jealous :)