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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 stuff).

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.


  • Purpendicular (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


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