Shades of Deep Purple

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Shades of Deep Purple
Studio album by Deep Purple
ReleasedJuly 1968 (US)
September 1968 (UK)
RecordedPye Studios, London, 11–13 May 1968
GenrePsychedelic rock, progressive rock, pop rock, hard rock
LabelTetragrammaton (US)
Parlophone (UK)
ProducerDerek Lawrence
Deep Purple chronology
Shades of Deep Purple
The Book of Taliesyn
Singles from Shades of Deep Purple
  1. "Hush" / "One More Rainy Day"
    Released: June 1968
Original UK cover
Remastered re-issue cover
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Shades of Deep Purple
Studio album by Deep Purple
ReleasedJuly 1968 (US)
September 1968 (UK)
RecordedPye Studios, London, 11–13 May 1968
GenrePsychedelic rock, progressive rock, pop rock, hard rock
LabelTetragrammaton (US)
Parlophone (UK)
ProducerDerek Lawrence
Deep Purple chronology
Shades of Deep Purple
The Book of Taliesyn
Singles from Shades of Deep Purple
  1. "Hush" / "One More Rainy Day"
    Released: June 1968
Original UK cover
Remastered re-issue cover

Shades of Deep Purple is the debut studio album by the English hard rock band Deep Purple, released in July 1968 on Tetragrammaton in the United States and in September 1968 on Parlophone in the United Kingdom. The band, initially called Roundabout, was the brainchild of former The Searchers drummer Chris Curtis, who recruited Jon Lord and Ritchie Blackmore before leaving the project. The Mk. I line-up of the band was completed by frontman Rod Evans, along with musicians Nick Simper, and Ian Paice in March 1968.

After about two months of rehearsals, Shades of Deep Purple was recorded in only three days in May 1968 and contains four original songs and four covers, thoroughly rearranged to include classical interludes and sound more psychedelic. Stylistically the music is close to psychedelic rock and progressive rock, two genres with an ever growing audience in the late 60s.

The album was not well received in the UK, where it sold very little and did not chart. In the US, on the other hand, it was a success and the single "Hush", an energetic rock track originally written by Joe South, became very popular at the time, reaching number 4 on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart.[1] The good sales of the album and the intense radio play of the single contributed largely to the attention Deep Purple would get in their early US tours and also during the 70s.

Modern reviews of the album are generally positive and consider Shades of Deep Purple an important piece in the history of Deep Purple.


The year 1967, when Deep Purple first line-up came together, was a moment of transition for the British music scene. Beat was still popular, especially in dance halls and outside the capital, but the tastes of young people buying records and filling up the clubs was rapidly changing in favour of blues rock, progressive rock and psychedelic rock.[2] New bands like The Moody Blues, Procol Harum, and The Nice were pioneers in combining classical music with rock, using complex and daring arrangements.[2] At the same time, psychedelia was making strides in the hedonistic swinging London society, where bands like Pink Floyd, The Pretty Things, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Traffic and Cream experimented with different forms of drug-induced rock music,[3] in line with the hippie subculture coming from the USA.[4] Many well-known acts, including The Beatles,[5] The Rolling Stones[6] and The Who,[7] were influenced by the changing feel, adding many elements of progressive and psychedelic rock to their albums of that period.

In this situation of turmoil during the summer of 1967, Chris Curtis, former drummer of the beat band The Searchers, contacted London businessman Tony Edwards to find financing for a new group he was putting together, to be called Roundabout.[8] The name meant that the members would get on and off the band, like a musical roundabout, with only Curtis as mainstay and singer.[8] Impressed with the plan, Edwards agreed to finance and manage the venture with two business partners, Ron Hire and John Coletta, and the three of them founded Hire-Edwards-Coletta (HEC) Enterprises.[8][9]

(Chris Curtis) is a strange guy, but he's so eccentric, he's a really good bloke.(...) A genuine rock 'n' roll character. He wasn't a showbiz character, he wasn't manufactured, and I can relate to that. I think he got into drugs and started to get silly, unfortunately, for he did get everyone together. It was his band. For what it was worth a very important person: without Chris Curtis it would not have happened.

– Ritchie Blackmore[10]

In September 1967, the first successful Roundabout recruit was Curtis' flatmate, the classically-trained Hammond organ player Jon Lord, who had most notably played with The Artwoods, a band led by Art Wood, brother of future Rolling Stones guitarist Ronnie Wood, and featuring Keef Hartley.[11] At that time Lord was playing with a band called The Garden, which included also bassist Nick Simper and drummer Carlo Little, backing the successful pop vocalists The Flower Pot Men.[12] Simper and Little were alerted by Lord of the Roundabout project and remained in standby for an eventual involvement.[13] They recommended to Lord the expert session guitarist Ritchie Blackmore,[14] whose playing Chris Curtis had appreciated when his band The Searchers had played at the Star-Club in Hamburg, Germany.[15] Blackmore had been a member of The Outlaws and played as session and live musician with many beat, pop and rock acts,[16] including Screaming Lord Sutch and the Savages,[17] where he had met Carlo Little. Curtis contacted Blackmore to audition for the new group and persuaded him to move from Hamburg, where he was working as a club live player.[18] The guitarist came definitely back to England to join the group in December 1967.[13] Meanwhile, Curtis' erratic behaviour and his disinterest for the project he had put in motion slowed down any development[13] and forced his financers, HEC Enterprises, to drop him and entrust Lord and Blackmore with the task of putting up the band.[8][19]

For the bass guitar slot, Lord signed up his friend Nick Simper, whose fame at the time came from his membership in the rock and roll group Johnny Kidd & The Pirates and for having survived the car crash that killed Kidd.[20][21] The line-up of Roundabout was completed by drummer Bobbie Clarke, recruited by Blackmore.[8] Dave Curtiss, an acquaintance of Clarke, was at first considered as singer, but he left to fulfill previous commitments.[19] According to Simper, also Ian Gillan, the singer of the band Episode Six, was contacted for an audition, but declined the offer.[14]

Early days of development[edit]

Deeves Hall was rented by Tony Edwards as residence for the band and equipped with stacks of Marshall amps and new instruments.[19]

Roundabout retired at Deeves Hall, a rented old farmhouse near the village of South Mimms, Hertfordshire in late February 1968.[22] There, while waiting for the arrival of new musical instruments and equipment, they continued the search for a singer through an advertisement in the British music paper Melody Maker that summoned dozens of aspiring vocalists to audition for the new band.[23][24] Rod Stewart was among the many would-be-frontmen who were dismissed.[24] The band chose Rod Evans instead, who was already the singer of the club band The Maze.[25] Evans had brought along to the audition his 19-years-old band mate Ian Paice, whom Blackmore recognized from his days in Hamburg.[26] They quickly improvised an audition for Paice, who was chosen on the spot to replace Bobbie Clarke behind the drum kit.[14] Clarke was unhappy with the direction the band was heading and the other members thought that he was not suited for their sound.[14][24]

The first rehearsals of what will be known as the Mk. I line-up of Deep Purple involved mostly jamming and some occasional glimpses with the instrumentals "And the Address" and "Mandrake Root",[22] which Blackmore and Lord had written earlier that year.[13] Mandrake Root was also the name of an earlier band that Blackmore had been trying to form in Germany when the call came from Deep Purple's management.[27][28] After the two instrumentals, the first proper song to be arranged was "Help!", a Beatles cover that Chris Curtis wanted to include in an eventual album.[13][22] To reduce the number of instrumental tracks on the album, Evans wrote some lyrics for "Mandrake Root".[22] With those three well inducted, the band started working on "I'm So Glad", a song by Skip James, which had earlier been covered by Cream and The Maze, the band Evans and Paice came from.[29] The next song added during rehearsals was "Hey Joe", a song originally, but disputably, written by Billy Roberts and mistakenly credited to Deep Purple on original releases of the album.[30] The Jimi Hendrix Experience had recorded a version of the song in late 1966, which was used as the main inspiration for the arrangement although, as well as "I'm So Glad", the track was heavily blown up and stretched in length.[31] The band also picked up a song called "Hush", written by Joe South for Billy Joe Royal the previous year, which Blackmore had heard while in Germany.[32]


The band began intensive rehearsals after an agreed set list. Ritchie Blackmore convinced a friend of his, Derek Lawrence, to produce. He had met Blackmore some years before when both worked for producer Joe Meek,[33][34] and Lawrence ran an independent production company that recorded singles and sold them over to the United States.[22] Lawrence had many contacts in the US and was present at some of the band's sessions, remaining positively impressed.[29]

Through Lawrence, HEC Enterprises contacted the new American record label Tetragrammaton Records, which was looking for a British band to work with.[35] HEC arranged for the band to cut some demos for the American label in between March and April at Trident Studios in London.[22][35] They recorded two of their previously developed songs, "Hush" and "Help!", as well as two newcomers, "Love Help Me" and "Shadows", both quickly written and arranged by the band for that purpose.[35] "Help!" was also previewed by EMI, which offered a deal for distribution in Europe with their sub-label Parlophone.[35] All the demos, with the exception of "Shadows",[22] were sent to Tetragrammaton for approval.[22]

The recording of the demos was followed by a short promotional tour of eight dates in Denmark and Sweden through April and May,[36] booked as Roundabout by a friend of Lord.[22] The band name was changed at this time and Deep Purple was suggested by Blackmore, as it was also the name of his grandmother's favorite song.[37] This was the debut tour for the band and the first time the new songs were played live, introduced by the cover of "Little Girl", originally by John Mayall and Eric Clapton.[14] When they returned to England, the cable containing Tetragrammaton's decision to sign them had arrived.[38] This was a saving grace, as the budget provided by HEC and used for promotion and equipment was nearly spent.[38][39] In this period, the band relocated at Highleigh Manor, in Balcombe, West Sussex, because Deeves Hall was no longer available.[14]

While the band was on tour, some studio time had been booked and on Saturday, 11 May 1968, Deep Purple went into Pye Studios at ATV House in London.[40] There, with aforementioned Derek Lawrence producing and Barry Ainsworth acting as engineer, they quickly recorded the material they had intensively rehearsed and which made up their live set.[14] It was custom in those years, especially for debut bands, to have small production budgets, which allowed very limited time in the recording studio.[41][42] For this reason the songs had to be arranged and rehearsed in advance and were recorded almost live in one or two takes. "And the Address" and "Hey Joe" were cut first, followed by "Hush" and "Help!" later the first day.[39] On Sunday, "Love Help Me", "I'm So Glad" (with prelude entitled "Happiness") and "Mandrake Root" were recorded.[39] Finally, on Monday, 13 May, "One More Rainy Day" was cut, completing the recording of their debut album.[39] The tracks required quite a large amount of mixing, because sound-effects extracted from a BBC album were added as transitions between songs.[40] The final mixing was made later the same day, concluding the band's duties in studio.


The finished album was taken to Tetragrammaton representatives that had come to London and the material proved to be more than satisfactory for the label.[43] After the final approval, the band members were clothed in hip styles and fashions at the famous Mr. Fish Emporium, where they did the obligatory photo-shoot.[44] The resulting shots were shipped with the master tapes to America where Tetragrammaton began production and distribution of the album.[43]

The single "Hush" was released overseas in June 1968 and it turned out to be a huge success, peaking at No. 4 on the US charts,[1] No. 2 on the Canadian charts,[45] and garnering the band considerable attention. The label's reluctance to release "Help!" as the promotional single and instead go for "Hush", proved ingenious.[43][44] Widely distributed and hyped, the song was played on radios all over the US, particularly the West Coast, and the band notoriety grew considerably.[43] The album was released in the United States in July 1968 and raced up the Billboard Pop Chart, ultimately peaking at No. 24.[46]

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"Hush" and "Smoke on the Water" are still the highest-charting Deep Purple singles in the US.[47]

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"Hush" was released in the UK in late July, but it did not arouse much interest. In August, an appearance on British TV at the David Frost Show to lip-sync the song was shot with the roadie Mick Angus standing in for an unavailable Blackmore.[48] However, the TV passage did not help the sales of the single in the UK and made Parlophone postpone the release of the album.[43]

The band recorded some radio sessions for the John Peel's Top Gear radio show on BBC, but otherwise, England in general was not their priority.[43] Those recordings recently resurfaced and are included in the compilation album BBC Sessions 1968–1970. Shades of Deep Purple was finally released in the United Kingdom in September 1968 and went almost unnoticed there.[49] Jon Lord reflected on the matter on the magazine Beat Instrumental:

"We felt that England was unlikely to be as receptive to a new group as America, so we tried to get signed up with an American record company. We were lucky in that we were signed by a new label, who were anxious to get started with a hit and we had a lot of promotion and publicity. We had far greater freedom both financially and artistically than we could ever have got with a British company. An English company as a rule won't spend any time or effort with you until you're an established name, but isn't that leaving it a bit late?"[43][50]

A monaural pressing of the album was released in the UK and Europe, which was simply a fold-down of the stereo mix.[43]

Shades of Deep Purple was reissued many times all over the world, often in a set with the two following albums recorded by the Mk. I line-up. Besides the original issues, the most significant version of the album is the Remastered CD edition of 2000 by EMI, which contains as bonus tracks previously unreleased recordings of the first demos of April 1968 and of TV shows appearances.[51] All the songs were digitally remastered and restored by Peter Mew at Abbey Road Studios in London.[51]

Musical style[edit]

Deep Purple's members were experienced musicians with different musical backgrounds: Lord had trained in classical music and had played in jazz and blues rock ensembles,[52] Blackmore and Simper came from session work in pop rock,[53] Paice and Evans from beat bands.[25] However, no one was an accomplished songwriter.[42] The only one with experience in musical composition was Lord,[54] who cured the arrangements[42] and wrote the bulk of the music for the first album, with some guitar riffs added by Blackmore.[55] Their first album shows the potential of the band but does not focus on a distinct sound,[41] adopting the styles fashionable in that period; the result is a mix of psychedelic rock,[49] progressive rock,[31] pop rock[49] and hard rock, the latter emerging mostly from some guitar parts.[31]

Traces of the heavy sound that would mark the production of Deep Purple's Mk. II line-up can already be heard in the opening instrumental "And the Address" and in "Mandrake Root",[4][31][56] where Blackmore's admiration for the American guitarist Jimi Hendrix[41][57] transpires from the riffs much similar to the song "Foxy Lady".[31][56] The other original compositions, the ballad "One More Rainy Day" and "Love Help Me", are pop rock songs with rather complex lyrics provided by Evans;[49] they enhance the commercial appeal of the album, but are considered by critics less interesting than the cover songs.[31]

We loved Vanilla Fudge – they were our heroes.

– Ritchie Blackmore[58]

The use of so many cover songs to fill up the album was a common tread at the time,[49] because of the short time given to bands for songwriting and to the rushed schedules of production.[41] The songs covered by Deep Purple were all treated with new arrangements to be considerably longer and sound more grandiose than the originals,[31][49][59] in an attempt to emulate the American rock band Vanilla Fudge, which many band members admired.[39][60] "Hush" and "Help!" are clear examples of the Vanilla Fudge style of slowing a song down and bluesing it up to get a more psychedelic sound.[4][61] The sound of the band was also heavily influenced by classical music: "I'm So Glad" is introduced by an electric arrangement of the first movement of the symphonic suite Scheherazade, under the name "Happiness",[62] while the cover of "Hey Joe" was arranged inserting parts taken from El sombrero de tres picos ballet by Manuel de Falla.[62]


Deep Purple performed from the start a very loud and hard rocking live show,[14] and their stage set was included stacks of custom purple vinyl Marshall amps and fancy dresses.[63] The dualism between Blackmore's flamboyant guitar playing, which he had honed in many years of daily practice and experimented on tour with Screaming Lord Sutch,[17] and Lord's rocking Hammond solos[64] was still in an embryonic stage, but it would soon become an integral part of band dynamics.[65]

Deep Purple debuted at The Roundhouse Theatre in July 1968, opening for The Byrds, before The Gun and The Deviants.[63] Their performance was badly received by the audience and by other musicians present.[63] In spite of this, the band went on playing their live set in local pubs and festivals, receiving mostly cold receptions.[43] Ian Paice's explanation for their lack of touring and promotion in England, reflected to Melody Maker:

"This is because we haven't been offered the money we want and unless there is some sort of prestige attached, there is no point in doing the general run of gigs. And as far as we are concerned, dancing audiences are out. There are only about three numbers in our act that they can dance to. We make a point of warning promoters that we are not a dancing group."[66]

Waiting to start their first US tour and in need of new material to propose on the American market and to beef up their live show, the band returned in studio with producer Derek Lawrence to record their second album, The Book of Taliesyn in September 1968.[48] The new album was recorded before the release of Shades of Deep Purple in the UK.

By October, Deep Purple set off to the States to start their US tour.[36] The success of "Hush" was a giant boost in America and from their first gigs they received all the attention they had not been given in England.[43] The first date was at The Inglewood Forum on 18 and 19 October 1968, supporting Cream in their farewell tour.[67] A recording of those live performances was released in 2002 with the title Inglewood – Live in California. The band played at many different locations, including festivals, bars and even at the Playboy After Dark TV show, alongside Hugh Hefner and a bunch of dancing women.[43]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Allmusic4/5 stars[31]
About.com4/5 stars[49]
Piero Scaruffi(5/10)[68]
PopMatters6/10 stars[56]

Reception of the album and the band in their home country was generally negative. Despite being presented as a "polished commercial group" in their radio appearances,[69] Deep Purple's stage excesses and success in the US did not make a good impression on British audiences. The Deviants frontman and later journalist Mick Farren described Deep Purple music as "a slow and pompous din, somewhere between bad Tchaikovsky and a B-52 taking off on a bombing run."[65] More criticism rained down on them for being too American[43] and "poor man's Vanilla Fudge".[48] As Brian Connolly of Sweet recalls, "they were so out of place that you really felt sorry for them."[70]

On the contrary, in the US the band was often introduced as "the English Vanilla Fudge"[60] and massive radio coverage of their songs granted success for both the album and tour. Ian Paice had this to say about success in the US versus the lack of it back home:

"We have been given proper exposure over there. The Americans really know how to push records."[66]

Decades later, modern critical reviews of the album are generally positive. Bruce Eder of Allmusic considers Shades of Deep Purple, despite some flaws, "a hell of an album" and praises the "infectious (...) spirit of fun" of the disc, which has "much more of a '60s feel than we're accustomed to hearing from this band".[31] Dave White of, reviewing positively the three albums of the Mk. I line-up, writes that Deep Purple are "a band who found a place in the mainstream by being different" and that Shades of Deep Purple stands out mostly for the "distinctive arrangements with long instrumental intros" of the cover songs.[49] Blogcritics contributor David Bowling states that Shades of Deep Purple "was a creative and very good debut album", which combines "psychedelic music with hard rock and early progressive rock into a pleasant but disjointed whole."[4] Italian critic Piero Scaruffi dismisses the albums of the Mk. I line-up as "mediocre prog rock",[68] while Popmatters review of the same albums considers them "both respectable and consistent", although Evans' voice is "perhaps more suited to heavy pop rather than heavy rock".[56]

In an Observer Music Monthly Greatest British Albums poll, Rick Wakeman chose Shades of Deep Purple as one of his ten favourite records of all time.[71]

Track listing[edit]

Side one
1."And the Address" (instrumental)Ritchie Blackmore, Jon Lord4:38
2."Hush"  Joe South4:24
3."One More Rainy Day"  Lord, Rod Evans3:40
4."Prelude: Happiness / I'm So Glad"  Blackmore, Evans, Lord, Ian Paice, Nick Simper / Skip James7:19
Side two
5."Mandrake Root"  Blackmore, Lord, Evans6:09
6."Help!"  John Lennon, Paul McCartney6:01
7."Love Help Me"  Blackmore, Evans3:49
8."Hey Joe"  Billy Roberts7:33


Deep Purple[edit]



1968RPM100 Albums (Canada)[72]19
Billboard 200 (North America)[46]24
Oricon Japanese Albums Charts[citation needed]66
1968"Hush"RPM50 Singles (Canada)[45]2
Billboard Hot 100 (USA)[1]4
Swiss Singles Chart[73]7


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  3. ^ Macan, Edward (1997). Rocking the classics : English progressive rock and the counterculture. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press. p. 20. ISBN 978-0195098877. 
  4. ^ a b c d e Bowling, David (8 November 2011). "Music Review: Deep Purple – Shades Of Deep Purple". Blogcritics. Retrieved 25 December 2013. 
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  9. ^ Thompson: p.21
  10. ^ Bloom: p. 99
  11. ^ Thompson: p.24
  12. ^ Thompson: p.26
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  17. ^ a b Bloom: p.27
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External links[edit]