Looking backwards Deep Purple was a troubled band. Most bands don’t have four lead singers, four lead guitarist, three bass players and two keyboard players over its history. Most bands never have an issue maintaining a consistent front man in the role of lead singer or lead guitar, most bands dissolve when the theoretical leadership roles experience routine turnover (lead guitarist Ritchie Blackmore was present for all the most significant moments in the band’s history). Most bands do not cease to exist for a decade (between 1976 and 1985). Most bands would be unable to produce nineteen studio albums with all of these difficulties confronting them.
Despite plenty of critic appeal and a fine stable of radio hits Deep Purple is rarely mentioned among the all time greats of classic rock and have yet to be inducted into the rock and roll hall of fame.
What’s up with that?
I wonder if the constant change over of lead singers and the large gap of time where Deep Purple did not exist or if any of the other inconsistencies in their line up and presence may have harmed Deep Purple in some culturally successful way. They are kind of a funny band in that way, Deep Purple is just on the fringe of being considered one of the all time best bands of all time in the minds of most, yet they are also similar to other cult rock and roll bands who have a devout following and are largely ignored by the mainstream. They act more like a cult band, constantly touring and making music regardless of sales of approval. I wonder if Deep Purple is the most successful cult band that remained a cult band, or if they are a successful band that is to some degree taken for granted.
Now for an anecdote:
Many moons ago I was working the kitchens and my co-worker asked me if I had any classic rock on my MP3 player, of course I did, who the hell do you think I am? He asked me what I had so I listed off the greats, Zeppelin, Floyd, Who, Beatles, etc.
“What about Deep Purple?”
I had like four songs by Deep Purple. The four you would mostly often hear on the radio, “Smoke on the Water,” “Space Trucking,” “Highway Star,” and “My Woman from Tokyo,” I might have had “Hush” as a fifth. My co-worker was unimpressed. He counted Deep Purple among the greats and I had a meager number of songs to show for them on my personal collection. I did not even have “Child In Time.”
The first major track to force a reinvestment of my attention in Deep Purple was “Child In Time,” a song you will probably never hear on the radio but was from most peoples’ perspectives the first truly great Deep Purple song. The first three albums Deep Purple released were consumed with cover songs, and it was not until their fourth album “Deep Purple In Rock” (1970) did the band finally release an album that was comprised entirely of original material. As a result “Child In Time” is often cited by critics as the turning point for Deep Purple, Roger Glover was now on Bass and would be forever thereafter, all tracks were original, and frankly most people would agree that “Deep Purple In rock” was the best album produced by the band thus far at that time, and may would agree hence forth thereafter.
“Child In Time” is a perfect example of the experimental style of 1970. It is a ten minute odyssey full of daring new approaches to sounds creation and presentation. The sound of “Child In Time” fits right in with Emerson Lake and Palmer, or The Moody Blues “Beyond a Threshold of Dream” which came out the year prior. Progressive rock advanced yet another step forward thanks to Deep Purple and “Child In Time” and as such many Deep Purple fans recall it as the epoch of all men involved careers.
The popularity surrounding “Child in Time” is not dissimilar to Aerosmith’s “Dream On.” Many hardcore fans would point to the early masterpiece of both bands careers as being their finest work, but most people are either unfamiliar with or less familiar with those songs as they are with the radio hits, the more conventionally popular. In “Child In Time’s” case the length alone made it taboo for radio play and thus missed entirely by a significant, and disappoint, number of people.
Everyone knows, or at least should know, that Ritchie Blackmore is a fantastic guitarist, and I really like the dropping rhythm that carries the verses and bridges through the song, but I think extra attention should be given to the keyboards specifically. There is a wild and lengthy keyboard solo which may be Jon Lord’s best work, I do not know, I am still discovering more about him.
I have joined the camp of Deep Purple fans who point to “Child In Time” as their magnum opus.
- King of Braves