It is always fun to read articles from way back, especially when one knows the history of a band as well as many do with Deep Purple. Some funny moments in this one for those “in the know”.
Have a nice read!
Blackmore the Purple egotist
By Dick Meadows
The anatomy of a heavy rock band in today`s pop society is a complex one. The sweat and toil reaps reward in terms of enormous audience adulation and financial profit. But there is a difficult cross to bear at the same time and that is to be branded whipping boys in rock.
Led Zeppelin and Ten Years After have become almost institutions whose stature has lifted them above the bitching. At the other end of the scale Sabbath and Uriah Heep are down there in the muck-raking mire nailed to this cross by critics. That the cross seems to be made of pound notes and fan hysteria obviously makes it more bearable.
Just about balancing the see-saw of respect and smears is Deep Purple who have laboured for four years to achieve a mountain of success but still get slagged off rightly or wrongly for allegedly playing stereo-type, formula rock.
Purple`s stance in this situation is fairly predictable. They get hurt by the harsh words, fail to understand a lot of them and then begin to resent them. In about that order. “We still seem to upset many people but sometimes I really can`t see why.”
The speaker is Ritchie Blackmore, lead guitarist with the band. On stage the man is extrovert and an instinctive entertainer. But now in an office block high above the Christmas lights of Regent Street, W. 1., he sits quietly, an introvert who has to be coaxed into talking about his music and the group he has grown famous with. He admits that he seeks rather to play rock than have to interpret it through the process of question and answer.
Blackmore talked easily enough, though, about criticism and Purple`s philosophy here. After all the band has had a good amount of practice in coming to terms with slagging which quite often they simply haven`t earned:
“We tend to consider what will please an audience. We think of that first and then what will please us perhaps second. So sometimes we get put down for playing fairly simple riffs. But you have got to consider the people you are playing for. That`s what it is all about.
King Crimson, for instance, turn out some very good stuff. I like things they do but what happens is that a lot of it goes over people`s heads.
Yes, we take criticism to heart but our attitude is not to talk about it too much. If we kept talking about what people were saying and what some reader from East Grinstead has written in a letter to a music paper then it would have a bad effect. We`d always be thinking, “Are we doing the right thing?”
It`s funny really, some people have such closed minds about Purple and other groups as well. When you are coming up there is encouragement but the same people who have encouraged you will then knock you down when you got some kind of success. Uriah Heep are having this happen to them, and they don`t deserve all the criticism.
You know, John Peel won`t play us. He says we play formula rock and that`s that. I don`t know where that man is at any more. I did once but not now. Have you heard some of the people he is playing now? And people he has helped build up, he has turned his back on.
Blackmore was speaking after a four-week break from pounding out rock on the road. Purple were set to go to North America this month until vocalist Ian Gillan was stricken with hepatitis. For a time he was very ill and the tour was postponed until January. Now Ian is recovering but is still weak. In the meantime the band has been taking things comparatively easily; the only time they get to rest is when one of their number is ill. Otherwise they work themselves to a standstill.
During their enforced lay-off organist Jon Lord has been working with Tony Ashton, bassist Roger Glover has been doing some producing, and Ritchie and “Little” Ian Paice, the drummer, have been playing with a third guy – who Ritchie won`t identify – as a rock trio. They have put down some songs and one will be released as a single in the new year under a name that gives no clue to its Deep Purple heritage.
“Let people hear it and maybe like it, rather than pick up the record and say, `Oh that`s Deep Purple, don`t like it and won`t play it`.” That`s Ritchie`s view.
The inevitable fragmentation during Gillan`s illness perhaps provides a clue to the future. Individual members of the band are inclined towards virtuosity on stage – Blackmore admits he is an egotist when playing – and they are eager to solo and take their fair share of acclaim. Whether they can continue to get sufficient personal satisfaction is doubtful, although obviously they`re not anxious to destroy the huge success story that has taken a long while to write.
Nevertheless there have been musical clashes within the band in the past. Lord, for instance, is keen on merging rock with classics. Blackmore wants to remain more exclusively in rock.
The new album which is now being planned, takes on greater importance in this light. It will be recorded soon in the Rolling Stones` mobile studio at Montreux, Switzerland, and the probable title is “Machine Head”. Ritchie is excited about the album because the past few weeks have been a perfect opportunity to formulate a clear vision about what should go on it. The release date will probably be March and Ritchie is frank about its importance:
“This next album will show what Purple`s future really is. I personally didn`t like the last one, `Fireball`, too much, but this one I think will really get to the people. With `Fireball` we virtually made everything up in the studio, `give us a riff`, that sort of thing. We were working so hard that we never had any time to sit back and think of new ideas for the album. There are only three tracks I think are good. “No. No. No`. `Fools` and `Fireball` itself.”
The lead guitarist reckons “Deep Purple In Rock” is the finest thing they have done on record. It showed them going in one clear direction which they weren`t before and that includes “Concert For Group And Orchestra”. Which way they go now remains to be seen. It promises to be a significant fifth year for the band from Deep Purple.
I have personally transcribed this from the original paper. Any errors in the text from the original magazine may not have been corrected for the sake of accuracy. If you have a music-related web-page where this fits – please make a link to the article. With credits to the original writer of the article from all of us music fans!
This number of Sounds also contains articles/interviews with these people: Frank Zappa, Rikki Farr, Bob Dylan, Nicky Hopkins, Bunk Johnson, Country Joe and the Fish, Steve Marriott, Ian Hunter, Roy Harper, Emitt Rhodes, Charlie Wills, Melanie.
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