Speed Kings: Deep Purple Top 5, 1970 – 73

Deep Purple ”Mk. 2” was without doubt the most energetic of what some call the “unholy trinity of hard rock” (Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, and Led Zeppelin). Led by guitar genius Ritchie Blackmore, they created an exciting and varied form of hard rock, finding a satisfying middle-ground between the heaviness of Sabbath, and the eclectic variety of Zeppelin.

5: Smoke on the Water, Live (Made in Japan, 1972)

The pure rock and roll energy of Made in Japan is reason to buy it alone, nothwithstanding that it also purposes as a ‘greatest hits live’, a live set including even more exhiliaratingly fast and heavy versions of the original album tracks. This version of Smoke on the Water is on the list due to an absolutely stunning organ solo from the late Jon Lord, erupting after Blackmore’s guitar solo.

4: Pictures of Home (Machine Head)

If anything in Deep Purple’s Gillan catalogue can be viewed as a direct influence on the wave of British heavy metal and hard rock of the late 1970’s and early 80’s, Pictures of Home is it, and particularly its galloping, melodic riff would be later emulated by Iron Maiden, (The Trooper springs to mind). The third track from Machine Head is also a schowcase of Ian Gillan’s powerful, operatic howling vocals.

3: Fools (Fireball, 1971)

The longest and best track off 1971’s Fireball, Fools is an epic song, including one of their best riffs, Jon Lord’s distorted organ and a growling lo-fi bassline from Roger Glover fleshing out this brilliant chunk of hard rock from an under-appreciated album in the Purps’ discography. It also features a rather ‘psyche-ma-delic ‘middle section featuring various Blackmore experiments. Fireball was the under-appreciated middle album, but it’s one of Gillan’s favourites, showing that they could branch out and innovate.

2: Highway Star: (Made in Japan, 1972)

As the concert opener from Made in Japan, Highway Star slowly builds up from a marching rythym from Paice’s snare drum, before exploding. This isn’t a ‘precursor to speed metal’, as pretentious rock historians assert, this is just classic british hard rock at its most thrilling and simple. It also features a  Bach-inspired organ solo by Lord. ‘Nuff said, if you ask me.

1: Child in Time (In Rock, 1970)

One of the great, ‘long’ rock songs, most of Child in Time is a slow-burning build-up of Gillan’s howling voice and delicate organ and cymbals, and slowly progresses, becoming more and more intense, until Blackmore’s glorious solo bursts through, maintaining his status as one of rock’s great geniuses before he went medieval on our…

That’s reason enough to buy In Rock, the album that most members of Mk II consider their favourite. “…that’s the nucleus of where we came from”, says Glover. No other song has built up so much excitement in 10 minutes as this, not even that other song by that other band. Hint: Does anybody remember laughter?

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