Ian Gillan was spot on when he predicted the number of songs on their next album (7), arriving in the beginning of July that year. Still a favourite album of Gillan, it would never be in the same class as “In Rock”, but then again, which album is? Not many. Have yourself a listen to “Fireball” while reading this article to get you in the mood.
Deep Purple – commercial without compromise
By Richard Green
FOR Deep Purple fans the end of an era is approaching. After late April or May, familiar numbers like “Speed King,” “Child In Time” and “Wring That Neck” will almost certainly disappear from the group’s repertoire, to be replaced by new additions. And the new additions will be taken from the highly important project on which Purple is now working – the heir to “Deep Purple In Rock.”
This week is the album’s fortieth consecutive week in the NME Chart and sales are almost as healthy now as they were in the balmy days at the beginning of last summer. “In Rock,” you will remember, is the album that pulled the group together collectively after the individual depressions that were a result of the concerto.
“The next album would have been ready by now but we had to hold it back a bit because of Richie’s operation,” Ian Gillan revealed. “It should be ready for the mixing stage and the art work by mid-April. Five tracks are done and there will be seven or eight included.”
Does Ian see it as an extension on “In Rock”?
“Well, yes, quite simply,” he replied and laughed at the brevity of his answer. Then he went on: “The tracks would have been out of place on `In Rock` but they seem to be a natural extension. The only common ingredient in both albums is earthiness.”
We touched on the subject of Deep Purple’s act which Ian agreed is based on the current album.
“I think audiences now are hearing us as we want them to, they’re seeing and hearing us playing our sort of music,” Ian began. “I used to go and see someone purely because I knew they would be doing certain numbers and I think it is nice for an audience to go and hear certain numbers.
“We could have been doing new numbers three or four months ago but on the British tour we decided to give
In Rock a last fling. We’ll probably retain some of the numbers we’re doing now, some seem to follow on more naturally than others. You need to play numbers to give people a lift and others to bring them down to another level. People need to go through a series of ups and downs, they need to go through certain emotions. If you play the same thing all the time people start shuffling round on their backsides.”
As “Strange Kind Of Woman” makes “Black Night”-like progress up the chart, Deep Purple notch up their second hit single after a long period of inactivity in that direction. I wondered if there was any pressure brought to bear on the group to release a single quickly after a number one.
“Only the obvious sort of very polite asking ‘Are you going to release a single`,” said Ian. “Luckily we have complete control over what we put out. At the time of `Black Night’ we thought it would be easy to fall into a trap, but there would be no harm in putting another single out as long as we didn’t compromise. Most of what we’re doing is commercial anyway, not in a contrived sense though.”
While I was spending days on end with Jon Lord recently for his part in NME’s “Man and his Music series”, the organist-pianist-composer told me how he found Ian and Roger Glover “lurking in Episode Six.” I decided to pursue this line with Ian.
“To go back a bit further than that, the bands I was with prior to Episode Six were all semi-pro and unknown bands but with all of them we did what would now be termed progressive or creative or inventive music, but always exciting,” he pointed out. “I used to change bands a lot and I joined Episode Six because they had a recording contract. They were very professional – everything was very clinical and organised but I didn’t realise that until later. In the end, there were two ways of thinking in the band and for about a year I felt really stagnant.
“I was discussing starting a band with Mick Underwood, our drummer, and Roger when Richie phoned Mick about singers and Mick suggested I go along and have a look. That was the most unselfish thing anyone has ever done for me because he blew out the band to help me.
“Roger and I had been writing together for a long time and when I merged into Deep Purple he came along as well – he had been doing session bass and knocked everyone out.
“I reverted right back to the kind of thing I was doing five or six years ago which was basically hard, exciting music. I was a little out of touch when I first joined the band, I was very impressed with what they were doing, Richie and little Ian impressed me very much.
“The band had had three albums and five singles out in America when I joined but they had had absolutely nothing in the way of hits in this country at all.
“We did a single called Hallelujah which did nothing. It was a silly thing to do because none of us really knew each other. We were going out for about fifty pounds a night when things started building up.
“When we really started writing and got into a sort of groove together it got better for us.”
At long last Deep Purple are getting the kind of rave reviews for their stage act that they richly deserve. In this country, on the Continent and even in the New World across the Atlantic, Deep Purple is regarded as having one of the most visually and musically exciting acts.
When Richie, say, goes into one of his long solos, Ian is likely to walk off stage and have a smoke until he senses the solo ending. Jon goes into lengthy instrumental pieces in the middle of numbers and Ian, especially on the finale, “Lucille,” grabs the mike stand and swings it about with unrestrained abandon. It all seems so spontaneous yet somehow at the same time minutely perfected.
“Nothing is worked out,” Ian told me when I voiced my opinion. “If something happens and gets a good reaction you may do it again three nights later subconsciously, then you may do it three months later. Bands a long time ago used to enable people to enjoy what they were doing.
“Our stage act is as near as you can get to a direct translation of the music. It seems a bit dumb if you’re playing something really aggressive to just stand there with your head down looking at your feet.”
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