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Subtle is not one of them

In Rock album art

Guitar Player has a nice writeup on the history of the early Deep Purple and making of In Rock. Nothing particularly new here (at least not to any of our regulars), but it’s well written, and it’s a slow news day 😉

Deep Purple in Rock is many things, but subtle is not one of them. Within literally seconds of listening to it, you’re blasted by Ian Paice’s frantic, slippery drums, Jon Lord’s braying organ, and, of course, Ritchie Blackmore’s indelible guitar riffing and loopy tremolo flourishes.

Along the way, singer Ian Gillan references and rearranges rock’s DNA (“‘Good golly!’ said little Miss Molly/When she was rocking in the house of blue light!”), punctuating his Little Richard and Elvis Presley–inspired lyrics with ridiculously piercing and forceful shrieks and wails. For that matter, the frenzied rhythm, developed by bassist Roger Glover, emulates Jimi Hendrix’s “Fire.”

From there, we’re through two verses and choruses and on to bearing witness to a classic Lord–Blackmore organ-guitar battle. And we’re only a minute into the record. The song we’re listening to is called “Speed King,” and it’s a wild and breathless launch to In Rock.

It’s also completely in line with what ensues over the next 40 minutes or so. From the snaky, metallized grind of “Bloodsucker” to the breakneck gallop of “Flight of the Rat,” the monolithic guitar-organ groove of “Into the Fire,” and the thundering “Hard Lovin’ Man,” the album is a relentless sonic juggernaut, its massive and over-the-top sound reflected in both the album title and the Mount Rushmore–aping cover art.

Continue reading in Guitar Player.

Ultimate Classic Rock has a short piece in which Joe Satriani is retelling a familiar story of how he got to fill the big shoes left empty in the middle of a tour:

When Joe Satriani got a phone call from his manager in 1993 offering a chance to replace Ritchie Blackmore in Deep Purple, the response was swift.

“I was offended that he would ask me that, because I was such a fan of Richie Blackmore,” Satriani explains to UCR. “Nobody can replace Ritchie Blackmore.” The guitarist remembers saying “don’t call me again,” before aggressively hanging up the phone. “Back in the pre-cellphone days. You know, just click, slam the phone down.”

Still, the thought marinated in his mind, and it didn’t take Satriani long to change his decision: “Of course, 30 minutes later I called [his manager] back and said, ‘Hey, did you tell those guys no yet?’ And he said, ‘No, I knew you’d change your mind.’”

Read more in Ultimate Classic Rock.

Thanks to Vladimir Drybushchak and Gary Poronovich for the info.

26 Comments to “Subtle is not one of them”:

  1. 1
    Uwe Hornung says:

    They could really bring out an official live recording from the tour with Satch, if only a limited edition for the diehards like us. His lightning-fast arpeggios in Knocking At Your Back Door were marvellous.

  2. 2
    Uwe Hornung says:

    I didn’t know that Jon used the treble booster too. You live and learn. I knew about how he dumped the Leslies for a while and went through Marshall amps (the Leslies would return), also how his Hammond C-3 keys were customized to also trigger an electric piano which gave him a more percussive attack on the organ – that is where the Child in Time intro sound comes from which is really quite characteristic. He was proud of that and it was a well-kept DP trade secret for a time.

  3. 3
    AndreA says:

    absolutely the first heavy metal LP

  4. 4
    Kidpurple says:

    The Ultimate Rock album!!

  5. 5
    Coverdian says:

    UWE, nuffsaid, oh my… Seen only via youtube presented Saarbrucken gig (cca late winter/early spring 1994 ) an´ hey man, twas satchtastick!
    An´ bit out of tune question if a may ask you:
    APROPOS: Anyway, Uwe, Saarbrucken, I ever and ever wonder from what place was final row decision of brilliant MADE IN EUROPE came from. It read Saarbrucken, Graz and Paris. We have official release of Paris and Graz… but those fantastic Davic C performance… with BB´s Rock Me Baby… in Mistreated had to be at Saarbrucken itself, wasnt it? Thanx, if you can answer.

  6. 6
    mike whiteley says:

    AndreA @3- I think Black Sabbath’s debut album from February,1970 takes that title.
    Even if you consider In Rock to be heavy metal.it wasn’t released until June of that year.
    No matter,In Rock is certainly a grand slab of hard rock.

  7. 7
    Uwe Hornung says:

    Coverdian, unlike MiJ, MiE is a cut & paste job, not all songs end in the same city where they started, the audience is a tape loop – as it is on Frampton Comes Alive (in the studio …), albeit in that case from a Grand Funk Railroad gig! -, there is lots of editing etc. That is why the atmosphere (together with Blackmore’s apparent introvert listlessness, but Hughes tries to make up for it und plays twice as hard) feels so uneven across the record. Supposedly, the lion’s share is from Saarbrücken because that gig’s recording had the best sound quality. There is more echo on Paris, and Graz was supposedly not very good at all (nothing from Austria ever is as German history has painfully shown again and again). Legend has it that Randy Pie, the opener, were also going down better than DP (they sure played the type of funk rock that should have made Glenn jump ship!).


    I was severely disappointed when MiE came out; these days it’s an interesting historic artefact for me because you can hear that inner band relations were at a nadir. Blackmore couldn’t wait to get off the stage, Paice and Lord soldiered on, Coverdale and Hughes wanted to prove they can support the band with the right new guitarist. I even like the Budokan recording of Mk IV better than MiE, Bolin is handicapped on that sure, but the band at least don’t sound desolate and unhappy.

    That said, MiE has its moments, Coverdale’s très cool “rock’n’roll” (much better than ‘Eeeeere’s a song for ya!) announcement to Burn and the Rock Me Baby snippet in Mistreated among them. Hughes’ bass playing is otherworldly on You Fool No One to the point of upstaging Blackmore. But you hear a happier band on the Kilburn recording, plus it’s the only DP gig featuring the legendary Rick Emerson who only played with them that night, aping Jon Lord’s style masterfully! (I wonder where Rick E. is now?)

    Re In Rock: A model statement in sound, the beginning of a new decade in music. Is it heavy metal? Music was – triggered by Cream and the Jimi Hendrix Experience – generally getting heavier at that time: Blue Cheer, Ten Years After, Jeff Beck Group, Johnny Winter, MC5, The Stooges, Bloodrock, Grand Funk Railroad, Taste, Free, Alice Cooper, Iron Butterfly, Black Sabbath, Uriah Heep, Led Zep – it was a whole movement; even established bands such as The Kinks, The Who and the Rolling Stones were adopting a harder approach. Purple – driven by Blackmore -were especially devoted to the cause, but not the only ones.

    Back then, DP was viewed as a “progressive band”. Make of that what you will. Sonically, In Rock has to me also garage and stoner rock elements, it’s even a bit punkish (it was one of Joey Ramone’s favorite albums, so there!). I do hear a bit of MC5 in the frantic energy of that record. The sheer intensity of that energy sets Mk II apart from MK I more than anything else.

    Purple would branch out more (Fireball) and hone their songwriting skills (Machine Head & WDWTWA) with subsequent albums, but In Rock is a whirlwind of a record.

    And did I say how it deserves a proper remaster/remix?

  8. 8
    Adel Faragalla says:

    Mike @6
    True in the sense that the calender never lies but Jon lord concerto for group and orchestra delayed the birth of IN Rock.
    I still believe that Ian Gillan direction with Fire Ball is more important than In Rock because it showed the extend of talent in the band hence why I believe DP MK2 is unmatched by any band in terms of talent and diversity.

  9. 9
    Nutking says:

    @Coverdian: Made in Europe is mostly Saarbrucken, with some Paris at least in You Fool No One.

  10. 10
    Uwe Hornung says:

    Adel @ 8: In a cerebral sense, Mk III and Mk IV were certainly the most unprogish line ups of DP – add Mk V to that. That was because Coverdale and Hughes are both fine musician with wide influences, but they are too blues and soul based to stray into prog territory.

    Mk I had prog elements (though mostly by not knowing exactly what to do), Mk VIII has them simply because it has two prog musicians at the helm who can’t help themselves. But Fireball was probably the closest DP ever came to recording a true prog record. In Rock was a relentless attack on the senses, Machine Head a glistening and elegant hard rock jewel, but Fireball was pleasingly oddball. Who Do We Think We Are wasn’t really prog, but it had all those Beatlish pop influences coming to the fore, again Gillan’s do and to Blackmore’s disdain.

  11. 11
    Coverdian says:

    UWE, thanx for your kind reaction, but I can´t accept your MiE dishonour at all. Of course I know ´bout the studio rearranging audience response (was not too loud for stuff and band itself taste), BUT it´s raw energy performance (s) and nobody can destroy the image for me, oneś can only listen to an realise!!!
    I agree with MK4Budokan gig anyway, but Last Concert as a whole is disastrous… beside the Ian Paice otherwordly drums on those nights… as he could all the misery take on his hands and shoulders!
    But anyway,thanx for your time and your overwhelming knowledge of mighty DP of all eras!

  12. 12
    Micke says:

    @7 You are wrong Ove or Uwe.. MIE is a great album and shows just how good mk III was.

  13. 13
    Uwe Hornung says:

    MiE is adequately played, no one was a bad musician in Mk III, but it has no heart. Just like the (bootleg) recordings from the last tours of Mk II in 1973 had no heart.

    I’m anything but an Mk III hater, Burn is my second-favorite DP album (Machine Head comes first, Come Taste The Band third), but morale-wise that line up was at its peak in 1973/74, everything was fresh then.

    For me, MiE is largely carried by Little Ian’s exquisite drumming and Glenn’s propulsive bass playing. They were untouchable as a rhythm section. Coverdale is fine too. Jon does his job, but you can hear that he is missing Ritchie’s sparks to ignite and invigorate him. And Ritchie sounds withdrawn. Of course he is still skillful, but he sounds moody throughout. He is not very good at faking excitement or even contentment when his heart is no longer in it.

    For lack of a better word I find the atmoshere of MiE “chilly”. It’s a very cold record. I don’t believe it would have come out had Mk III still existed in 1976.

    In an interview to the NME in 1976 (after recording Rising) Blackmore said about Mk III:

    “I felt we were giving the public bad music half the time.”

    And re the Coverdale/Hughes twin lead vocal attack:

    “It worked well on record. On stage it left much to be desired.”

    Now I don’t agree with either statement re Mk III, but it shows what Blackmore was brooding about in Paris, Saarbrücken und Graz.

    But out of historic interest, I’d love to have a DVD/Bluray of these gigs! Just like I’m happy that Ritchie’s water sports at the Birmingham NEC have been saved for posterity.

  14. 14
    Coverdian says:

    Hi, Uwe, grussgott, Well, some different oppinions and that´s allright. I feel sheer energy from MiE, you don´t. I still believe that MiJ is absolutely peak of live DP and by far the greatest live rock album of all times, so no need to compare that monstrous gigs with nothing. But MiE is (for me) the peak of live MKIII and my feelings is/was the same when I heard it for the first time (at my 16 years of age) and now. So nuff on the MiE subject for now.

    Uwe, maybe one more question, if you may: you mentioned NEC gig and I don´t forget this strangeness for the rest of my life. On and on Highway Star, seconds are rising to minutes and Ritchie´s nowhere to see and hear! Was that situation so bad back then, that he didn´t want to appear at all, if it was about to film for official DVD?

    These first (and long) moments of Highway Star had to be nightmare for the rest of band and even they played fantastic. Full Birmingham NEC house, first tune is rocking and rolling and moody and angry guitarist is missing.

    Iconic moment as we look back in history, but for the rest of the band? Ufffff…

  15. 15
    Uwe Hornung says:

    Coverdian, so you don’t think that both California Jam and Live in London are more vibrant than MiE? That album is forceful alright, but it’s also dead and soulless. DP’s chief protagonist going through the motions.

    Birmingham NEC? As an Mk III diehard, you must be aware of Ritchie’s unadulterated love for cameras …

    The NEC gig was to be filmed, Blackmore thought that was a bad idea as he felt Gillan’s voice was already shot, he would have liked the filming of an earlier gig in the TBRO Tour. So he reluctantly agrees, but demands that on his side of the stage the cameras have to keep a certain distance.

    Shortly before the gig he realizes that -opinions differ on this – that the cameras are closer than his instructions. In an act of responsible professional behaviour and not really childish at all, a close-to-50-year old throws (i) a tantrum, (ii) all the toys out of the pram, and, fatefully so, (iii) water cups at the cameramen.

    Except that the water hits assorted wives of his band mates which are there for the special event the filming to most everyone else is. Ritchie says that it was not his intention to pour water on the wives. I believe him, but he still gloriously acted like an absolute idiot.

    The band goes on stage – all except Ritchie. He’s seething off-stage, the others are seething on stage. Roger – of all people – said that he wanted to hit Ritchie there and then, being hardly able to control himself. Gillan grinned to himself and probably thought “I told you so, he needs to go”. As he indeed would soon after.

    And Ritchie prima donna lets the other sizzle until he finally makes a stage appearance. Sabotages the gig throughout by cutting songs short etc.

    Blackers has been smacked before by band members – and for good reason too. David Coverdale punched him in Munich in early Rainbow days when Ritchie (or one of his minions) had decorated a door to a room of David’s then wife Julia with black magic scrawlings which intimidated Julia. That is why they did then not speak for decades. No doubt, Blackmore will say he had no intention of scaring Julia and was unaware it was her room, but when you do dumb things, dumb things happen.

    Nature’s light alright.

  16. 16
    MacGregor says:

    Regarding TBRO tour, I am not sure how many times Gillan was attempting the falsetto screams on CIT on that tour, but man oh man that NEC performance is embarrassing for him. I still cannot fathom why Gillan was trying to do that back then, it was clear he couldn’t get up there anymore, it is woeful. So may be Blackers was right regarding Gillan’s voice. Unless some here may want to suggest (as was the discussion a little while ago regarding Gillan saying the very same) Blackmore demanded CIT to be played, therefore in his malevolent way of thinking, Gillan does makes a fool of himself, for the cameras. Now there is a thought. I have never heard that about some of the band members wives being hit by the water, if that is true, wow that would have really set the cat amongst the pigeons. Ooops! Cheers.

  17. 17
    Blackwood Richmore says:

    @ MacGregor, the human brain is a complicated & difficult thing to comprehend, just ask this guy!:


  18. 18
    Uwe Hornung says:

    You can actually see the wives being splashed in the video right at the beginning of the gig. They stand backstage left, Ritchie chucks from the right, they retreat. Again, Blackmore was in a rage, he didn’t mean to, but that didn’t matter. Just water, but hugely disrespectful. The band were fed up and if truth be told there wasn’t much Blackmore magic left on TBRO. That was a cold and angry record, but not in a good way. The water splash incident was a culmination of how low personal relationships had decayed, Mk II was done. I don’t regret Ritchie leaving at this point, it was time.

    The truth is that Ritchie is simply not cut out for stable line-ups. He’s never ever even reached five years with any line-up, very often – soooooomewheeeeeeere oveeeeeer the Rainbooooow – it was (hilariously so) much shorter. Except with the woman who bore his children. All credit to her for reining him in.

  19. 19
    AndreA says:

    @6 mr.mike👋
    A lot of people and revieweres say Black Sabbath, I know but my opinion is that In Rock is Heavier. No jazz blues in all his full length.

  20. 20
    MacGregor says:

    Sir Blackwood – thanks for that. Medical transcription is what a friend, who i share this house with does for work income. That is an example of what she has to attempt to transcribed often & I will not be showing her that clip. I don’t think she would enjoy the humour of it, I did though, classic Cleese, Cheers.

  21. 21
    MacGregor says:

    Uwe, I have never noticed that before & I have owned that concert from day one. I will be digging it out after work today & having a look. I do seem to recall that Blackmore has a bit of a look after throwing it, oops, sorry about that ladies. Temper temper Ritchie.
    In regards to the short & or stable lineups, I don’t think that matters at all in many cases. Diversity is the key in my book & many artists are chopping & changing musicians often in their quest for the holy grail of composition. Yes, Tull, Crimson, Zappa & Neil Young just to name a few that spring to mind. Cheers.

  22. 22
    MacGregor says:

    Looked it up online & found an interview with Rob Fodder, Blackmore’s personal assistant. He said something along the lines of ‘after Highway Star & before Black Night, Blackmore went back stage & poured a beer over the same camera man as he was wiping the water of his camera’. I couldn’t find anything about band members wives being splashed though, couldn’t see anything, unless that is them in the front row. I cannot imagine why they would be there. Not to worry, Blackmore turns it on again. Cheers.

  23. 23
    Uwe Hornung says:

    It’s at 4:12 here,


    I had forgotten Ritchie was already – albeit belatedly – playing with them on stage when he did that. Where he threw the water cup to get the camera guy, the wives were standing too.

    You can tell that Blackmore was extremely tense when he came on stage and basically looking for a fight with anyone. It even shows in his fingers. I think Gillan acted incredibly pro for not hitting him the mike stand across the head, instead he only mocked him with that grand gesture. No matter how aggravated he was, with Ritchie’s amount of showbiz experience, the whole scene was unforgivable. I hope even his disciples would agree on that. Any other band would have ganged up on him in the dressing room.

  24. 24
    Uwe Hornung says:

    What Roger had to say:

    “Worst gig I ever did in my life? You’d have to give me a couple of weeks to go through my life to figure out what that is.
    There’s several times when I’ve wanted to be off stage. That I felt not comfortable being onstage. One of them was in Birmingham NEC in ’93, when Ritchie was already going to leave the band, he’d already told us he was leaving. And we had about ten more concerts to do knowing that he was gonna be leaving. Sort of uneasy at the best of things. And we went onstage in the Birmingham NEC and he started throwing water around and throwing a tantrum. That was one of those times when I couldn’t wait to get off stage. I just felt like I really don’t belong up here and I don’t want to be here.”

  25. 25
    Dr. Bob says:

    Chickenfoot’s excellent cover of Highway Star gives us a glimpse of what Satriani must have sounded like filling in for Blackmore.

  26. 26
    MacGregor says:

    I have read different concert reviews over the years of that European tour & according to what people say, they were cracking gigs. Maybe the NEC filming gig is the bummer for the reasons stated. Cheers.

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