The usual perception of early Deep Purple is that it was a band with a lot of potential in search of a direction. And that might be true of their debut LP, put together in three days of sessions in May of 1968, but it's still a hell of an album. From the opening bars of "And the Address," it's clear that they'd gotten down the fundamentals of heavy metal from day one, and at various points the electricity and the beat just surge forth in ways that were startlingly new in the summer of 1968. Ritchie Blackmore never sounded less at ease as a guitarist than he does on this album, and the sound mix doesn't exactly favor the heavier side of his playing, but the rhythm section of Nick Simper and Ian Paice rumble forward, and Jon Lord's organ flourishes, weaving classical riffs, and unexpected arabesques into "I'm So Glad," which sounds rather majestic here. "Hush" was the number that most people knew at the time (it was a hit single in America), and it is a smooth, crunchy interpretation of the Joe South song. But nobody could have been disappointed with the rest of this record - one can even hear the very distant origins of "Smoke on the Water" in "Mandrake Root," once one gets past the similarities to Jimi Hendrix's "Foxy Lady"; by the song's extended finale, they sound more like the Nice. Their version of "Help" is one of the more interesting reinterpretations of a Beatles song, as a slow, rough-textured dirge. "Hey Joe" is a bit overblown, and the group clearly had to work a bit at both songwriting and their presentation, but one key attribute that runs through most of this record - even more so than the very pronounced heaviness of the playing - is a spirit of fun; these guys are obviously having the time of their lives rushing through their limited repertoire, and it's infectious to the listener; it gives this record much more of a '60s feel than we're accustomed to hearing from this band.
The EMI/Spitfire re-release from 2000 is notably superior to any prior version of the CD, made from the original master tape (which had been sent directly to the group's American label, Tetragrammaton, leaving EMI with a vinyl dub, astonishingly enough), with textures far closer and crisper than have ever been heard before - there are also five bonus tracks, two very early outtakes from their earliest sessions, an alternate version of "Help," a BBC recording of "Hey Joe," and a searing live U.S. television performance of "Hush."
Tracks 9, 10 first time on CD.
Tracks 11 to 13 previously unissued.
Tracks 1-8 all originally 1968. The copyright in this sound recording is owned by HEC Enterprises Ltd. under exclusive license to EMI Records Ltd.
Tracks 9, 10, 11, & 13 2000 The copyright in this sound recording is owned by HEC Enterprises Ltd. under exclusive license to EMI Records Ltd.
Track 12 2000 The copyright in this sound recording is owned by BBC Music under exclusive license to Deep Purple (Overseas) Ltd.
Tracks 1-8 Digital remaster 2000 The copyright in this sound recording is owned by HEC Enterprises Ltd. under exclusive license to EMI Records Ltd.
All Music Guide