A Life of Their Own
Top of feature
Ted the Mechanic
Long Time Gone
Ian Gillan explains
Vavoom: Ted the Mechanic
The song we now know as Ted the Mechanic was born on 26th January
1995, at Greg Rike's Studio in Orlando, Florida. Judging by what is written
in the Purpendicular Year Book, the original idea came from Steve Morse and
was jammed by the rest of the band. Once Roger turned on the DAT and Ian Gillan
started to dance and sing to himself, it was obvious that a new song was about
to be born. The Vavoom part was added to the title later on - originally this
name had been used to describe a different jam recorded on the the 16th January
- the first day in the studio.
As Ian Gillan tells it, the inspiration for the song comes from
a guy that basically came up to Ian in The Pub in Stowe, Vermont during the
sessions for Perfect Strangers (or possibly The House of Blue Light). Always
on the lookout for ideas, Ian had made notes on the only paper to hand, a napkin,
and filed it away for future reference. The napkin then fell out of a book several
years later, and the rest is history.
The song became the first new song debuted by the new line-up
on 4th March 1995, when it was played live at a show in Orlando. The version
played is very close to how it was put down in the studio, with the only differences
being a few minor changes in the lyrics - possibly just down to Ian on the night.
The quickfire blast of fretwork from Steve clearly signals that the other guy
has left the building and this is a new era for Deep Purple, before the rest
of the band kick in with a great groove from Ian and Rog, and some swirling
Hammond from Jon.
Though the Orlando show is circulating amongst tape traders, the
show from the following night (Fort Lauderdale) has been released as part of
the official Thames/Thompson Bootleg series. However, the original recording
used for the show is incomplete, with 'Soon Forgotten' and 'Maybe I'm a Leo'
missing. The track is also labelled as 'Ken the Mechanic' as it was on a boot
from one of the Korean shows. This mistake was down to the original bootleggers,
and does not represent a change in title - another boot of the Fort Lauderdale
show calls it 'Take the Mechanic'!
The song was played several times during the '95 tour and was
used as the opening track on the new CD, Purpendicular, when it was released
in early 1996. During the subsequent live shows, the song was also the first
of several new tracks to be played.
Due to the compact structure of the song, it never changed much
from the recorded version, but quickly gained classic status - as far as I remember
it is the only track by the current line-up to have been played by every concert
since Purpendicular was released. Its inclusion of the 30:Very Best of Album
in '98 also means that it is familiar with a lot of casual fans - those that
seemed to make up a lot of the audience at Grimsby for example, who cheered
Ted as they did all the other classics (but not the other new material or obscure
The one time the basic arrangement was changed was for the Concerto
shows, where a horn section and backing vocals were used to bring out the jazz
feel of the song. This arrangement worked so well during the Concerto tour,
that as an experiment, a horn section and backing vocals were also used at a
few of the Australian shows in 2001. Several versions of it have also been released
- the Albert album itself, the Rotterdam 2000 show and four examples in the
Soundboard Series boxset.
In 1998 'Ted the Mechanic' became the first song written since
'Burn' to actually open the show, and if that doesn't recognise the song's classic
nature, I don't know what will.
DiscographyPurpendicular (1996) - Studio version
Purple Sunshine (2001) - Fort Lauderdale 4th March 1995
Live at the Olympia '96 (1997) - Paris 17th June 1996
Made in Japan 2000 (2001) - Osaka 1st April 2000
Total Abandon (1999) - Melbourne 20th April 1999
In Concert with the London Symphony Orchestra (2000) - London 26th Sept.'99
Live in Rotterdam (2001) - Rotterdam 30th October 2000
Soundboard Series (2001)
Melbourne 9th March 2001
Wollongong 13th March 2001
Newcastle 14th March 2001
Hong Kong 20th March 2001
Tokyo 24th & 25th March 2001