A Quarter of a Century!!
What's goin' on here?
Since the previous editorial was written by 15-year-old Daniel, it seemed appropriate that the next one should come from an old-timer. So why not share some of the ups and downs of my 25 Purple years? You'll see that, here in Rosa's Cantina, we're not mindlessly uncritical fans. These are my personal opinions - if you disagree (or even agree!), then the alt.music.deep-purple newsgroup is waiting to hear from you.
In ages past, when spells were cast....
25 years ago - when many of you weren't born! - we walked on the moon, the Cold War raged between the two superpowers, the Arpanet linked only about a dozen sites....and a schoolboy in the north of Scotland celebrated his birthday with his first Deep Purple record - Fireball.
Those were the days of long, long hair and denim, and of glitter and glam-rock. In my school, the boys were mostly into blues-rock (like Clapton, Free/Bad Co) or into pretentious stuff (the Floyd, ELP, Yes), and the girls mostly fancied David Bowie and Bryan Ferry. And nobody, if they wanted to retain any credibility, would own up to liking T-Rex or the Sweet! DP never quite fitted into any of these categories, and there didn't seem to be many DP fans around. Makes me wonder who bought all their records!
I quickly acquired the classic Mk II records, then went back to the earlier Mk I releases. Listen to how the band improves over those first three albums - in particular, the "Deep Purple" album is varied and adventurous, and is still one of my favourites. It's a shame that Mk I didn't develop further.
(BTW, if you're new to DP, Rosa's has a discography which also tells you what the line-ups (MkI, MkII, etc) of the band are.)
Back then, I had to smuggle albums into the house - my Mum would complain about me wasting my money on these "terrible records". Nowadays, CDs are much easier to hide - but there's no hiding the fact that the shelves are filling up, and now it's my wife who complains!
Mk II went stale, but Mk III produced a couple of fine albums. Lots of folk knock "Stormbringer", but, at the time, it did a lot of good for DP. Sure, they'd sold zillions of records, but they'd never been fashionable, or accepted as anything other than heavy rock riffmeisters - "Stormbringer" brought them credibility in the songwriting department.
Ritchie left, Tommy Bolin joined, and "Come Taste The Band" appeared. IMHO, this is an excellent album, and surely "You Keep On Movin'" must be one of the finest tracks ever laid down by any line-up of Purple. It also could have been the last ever DP track - because then, in early 1976, they split!
Since you been gone....
No more DP!! I hadn't been too upset by the line-up changes: it was perfectly natural. However, when they broke up, I really did regret it. After all, I'd never had a chance to see them on stage - although, having heard some of the Mk III and IV live recordings, maybe that's just as well!
I wanted Rainbow to be really good, but somehow they always disappointed me. I saw the Dio line-up, with the rainbow across the stage, in Edinburgh - only after waiting for a couple of hours in a long queue in the street, while they sorted out "technical problems". I was at the "Down to Earth" show at Wembley, when Ritchie provoked a riot by refusing to play any encores, after a dreadful show of only about 70 minutes. I saw the JLT line-up play - in a gymnasium!!
And all the time there were rumours, rumours - DP to re-form? But why should they? After all, Whitesnake, Rainbow and Gillan were three of the biggest bands of the time. The DP legend grew, and grew....and so the seasons changed.....
....and all things return!
They re-formed in 1984. I rushed home with "Perfect Strangers", put it on....and what's this, the theme from "Jaws"? Verdict - one classic (PS itself), another three very good tracks, and the rest were filler. Never mind, it'll be different when I finally get to see them live!
They're playing only one date in the UK - after all those years? But look, it's at Knebworth - less than 20 miles away - in the middle of June. Brilliant - we'll have a fantastic day in the sun.
Is it getting better? No, no, no....
A couple of years on, and "House of Blue Light" appears. Once again, a few excellent tracks, and a lot of filler. Why are they trying to fill every space in the music? It's so tiring to listen to. Off to Wembley - oh dear, Ritchie hasn't appeared for the encore! I wonder if I'll ever see them again?
Big Ian out, and JLT in? Uh oh, JLT was very irritating when he was in Rainbow. Ummm, excuse me, this album ("Slaves and Masters") sounds like Rainbow, not DP. To Hammersmith - the venues are getting smaller - "Ooohh, isn't it cosy?" said Jon - and Ritchie's clearly in charge of the band. JLT is still very irritating, and references to underage sex are just ridiculous! Come on guys, how old are you?
JLT out, Big Ian back in - "The Battle Rages On", indeed! If one of the best tracks is a rip-off from "Green Onions", how can you describe the worst? Why are they playing this stilted riff-rock that Ian can't sing? And putting two of the worst as the last two on the album... Sorry guys, but I've had enough. Thanks for all the music, but re-forming was a mistake, and I'm not going to take any further interest. The end, goodbye!
Surfing with the purple aliens......
In the late summer of 94, I took my first steps on the Net. It didn't take me long to find the alt.music.deep-purple newsgroup (amd-p), and....what's this? Blackmore walked out, was replaced by Satriani, who played in Europe with them, and I didn't know a thing about it! If I had known about this, I'd have been off round Europe, chasing tickets!
Anyway, amd-p rekindled my enthusiasm for the band. The newsgroup and the Web site didn't improve the quality of DP's most recent output, of course. But discussing the band and the music made me go back and listen properly to the older music for the first time in years. And I rediscovered what had hooked me away back in 1971.
In 1995, Steve joined the band, Jon and Roger contributed regularly to amd-p, and they recorded _|_ ("Purpendicular"), which came out early in 1996. There have been lots of arguments about whether there can be a DP without Ritchie, and about whether _|_ is rubbish or the best thing since sliced bread. My own position is that I've given up sliced bread in favour of _|_, and that, just like 20 years ago, I'm not excited by what Ritchie's doing in Rainbow.
DP started out on the tour. It was great to be part of the multinational gathering in Brixton last March, and the live show was fantastic.
So when we discovered that they were playing in Paris in June, we went to see them again. And this show was even better!
...what has been, what is now, and what hereafter will occur
At last, after all those years, I've finally seen DP deliver the goods - on record, and on stage. What a shame it didn't happen 10 years earlier.
So we're up to the present day now, and I'm about to have yet another birthday (life is just about to begin for me!), and this time I have the 25th anniversary edition of Fireball to celebrate with.
For twenty-five years, DP's music has been with me. Twenty-five years in which we've retreated from space, in which the old world order has been replaced by something less clearcut but just as troubled....and now the Net links millions of us.
Changes there have been - and DP have both changed and remained constant. _|_ was a radical new step for them, so late in their career, but of course the music they recorded 25 years ago remains as it was.
To everyone in and associated with Purple for the last 25 years, thank you for the pleasure you've given me over that time. It hasn't all been enjoyment - some of it has been pretty hard going. Behavioural psychology says that it's much more effective to give rewards only occasionally, not all the time. So I'm still with you!
I know that another 25 years is out of the question, but, since it's my birthday, can I ask for just a few more years as good as 1996? Please?
Unauthorized copying, while sometimes necessary, is never as good as
the real thing (with apologies to Ani)|
(c) 2005, The Highway Star