Julian Cope presents Head Heritage

Deep Purple—
In Rock


Released 1970 on Harvest
The Seth Man, November 2001ce
The sheer recklessness of “In Rock” was a complete departure from everything Deep Purple had ever released. Organist Jon Lord was finally persuaded away from injecting his classical leanings in Deep Purple due to the failed experiment of their recorded-live-for-TV classical/rock extravaganza, “In Concerto” at The Royal Albert Hall. Starting afresh, Deep Purple decided to produce an album as Rock as possible and the output of the recorded proceedings was nothing less than a complete about face, in-yer-face, slop-out of loudness hinted at previously in precious few outings; with most of them unwieldy, organ-led pomp-styled arrangements or typical late sixties cover version candidates. But “In Rock” saw all tracks as group compositions while a newly retooled aura hovered over everything and the appearance of vocalist Ian Gillan (who first appeared on “In Concerto”) was finally allowed all the space in the world to cavort Jack The Lad-style, caterwauling shrilly about getting laid, groupies, coy references to ‘turning on’ and so forth...

The British studio version of “Speed King” is different from the version that appeared on American copies of “In Rock.”
It has an introduction...

Introduction? It’s actually more a torrential freak fracas involving Ritchie Blackmore’s Strat abuse lambasting the studio walls, Ian Paice’s mule-kicking drum fills and Jon Lord’s unleashing of furry-fucking and fizzing organ assault as they tear up the studio and their eardrums with this racket: only to dissipate into a fading howl as a brief solo sub-Baroque organ passage emerges. Luckily, it is the only classical moment to appear on the album and soon fades after a few chuckling chords. But once Lord has finished passing his classical gas, unleashed is the brutal assault that is “Speed King”: a hammering blitz-out with Gillan’s gibbershouted rock’n’roll lyrical pastiche set against an foaming wave of vicious rock so wayward yet precise it’s a wonder how it all holds together. This curiously porous yet strong metal gauze of a momentum drives “Speed King,” and all would fall apart if it were to flag for even second. “Speed King,” man -- it ROCKS and if there was one Deep Purple track to remember it’s this one. It rallied my flagging spirits as a non-dating teenager umpteen fucking times and nowadays stills sends me into the stratosphere (along with the live version of “Highway Star” off “Made In Japan” as well as the bonus “Encores” disc that accompanies the recent CD reissue of “Made In Japan.” This mother boasts not only “Black Night” from the “24 Carat Purple” compilation but the punked-up, fucked-off noise jam version of “Speed King” that is probably Deep Purple at their most extreme, ever.)

“Bloodsucker” drops in once “Speed King” has smoldered to a sickening, grinding halt. With the tempo at half of the speed but matched in rough and readiness despite all the deliberate, well-placed stops and starts (akin to building sand castles just to kick 'em over upon completion) “Bloodsucker” plods on heavy into the middle section build where Ritchie Blackmore and Jon Lord, the two main soloists (on both “In Rock” and for the next five years) begin to trade off and/or square off with each other in exchanges of ultra-slopped up whammy-bar accenting or amped-up Hammond organ distortions with yet another swiped and slurred run of the arm against the length of the entire keyboard. The main theme returns with Ian Gillan reiterating all the lyrics at twice the speed, and it just continues to pick up speed faster and grow even shriller until they become near-insensible, pre-verbal rantings as they bumpily run off into the distance naked and on fire. “Child In Time”, with its shadowy, candlelit organ plus delicate cymbal work opens the last track of the side as a clearly confirmed appropriation of It’s A Beautiful Day’s “Bombay Calling”. Opening quietly and offering no clue as to the subsequent swelling of both the song as well as (ostensibly) Gillan throbbing member as projected vocally/hysterically through the lyrics, the tightly-rolled and taut drum fills build precisely, growing and urged on by Lord’s organ risin’ and Gillan’s repeated shrill call for only the most primal of ecstasies that would inform countless silly-with-their-willy, air-in-their-balls Heavy Metal™ bands from this point on. True: but then again, none of them had a guitarist to surpass Ritchie Blackmore whose Strat starts to thicken with only the richest tones to make you forget how nonplussed you just were over the confounding lyrics. Then it starts to kick ass with dive bombing riffing: upside down, left to right and rebounding off itself as all the while sneaking in and laying down reoccurring finger diddling of the most haphazard order. Soon, it all hits a silence and it is a return to the quietude of the opening organ theme. As you would guess, it soon begins to swell to the boundaries of the most excruciating blue-balled-ness as Gillan shrieks in a manner about as embarrassingly unbridled as it is a worthy candidate of the most hard-up/-on expressionism. A final “ohhhhhh...” signifies the conclusion, where all falls apart in a gently post-coital collapse of strummed interior piano wires and a final few sparse cymbal taps.

Side two opens with “The Flight Of The Rat,” propelled by a grindingly hard rhythm guitar on the run as Gillan barks out nonsensical proclamations the like of “Spread the word around/The Rat is leaving town” which even the explanatory gatefold sub-title of ‘Just to remind you there are other ways of turning on’ do nothing to demystify. But combined with the vicious attack of Lord’s screeching organ passages barreling down the track like an 18 wheeled lorry at top speed on slick tarmac and Blackmore’s overdubbed, post-Hendrix whammy-barred fuck-offs of greatness, loud and rough-necked as fuck. Blackmore starts a ‘solo’ (Here I use quotes as there are so many run-on phrases, does it qualify as a single solo or a multitude of shorter ones accordioned into several with only scant spaces to demarcate them?) which winds up throwing the piece into a meat-grinding wah-wah passage before regaining the main theme. Right after the screeching, cliff’s edge cartoon halt comes a mini-drum solo and an ultra hammed up ending. “Into The Fire” has a guitar riff wide enough to shoulder not only the entire group AND Ian Gillan’s ego BUT all the women he’s bedded down simultaneously. A thudding, lumpen hunk of white boy funk too stoopid to do anything but clunk and dunk in a hunk of gunk. And dat’s punk, you thunk. An’ junk, come to think of it, as it’s greasy enough to slide outta that frying pan and direct to cindersville, all expenses paid. “Living Wreck” opens with a faded introductory drum pattern that almost qualifies the first few seconds to be (momentarily, at least) re-named “Deep Purple In Dub”. But it does work like a charm to set up the ensuing thicknesses of Blackmore’s buzzsawing, Lord’s nerve-shattering, flame-throwing sweeping-ness across the keyboard of his voltage-enlarged Hammond and Gillan’s crass and cruel story of elder groupie hi-jinks.

The album’s closer is “Hard Lovin’ Man.” Ha: Just read the title. It’s about as crass as that. Out of the silence, a brief flurry of staggered, distorted guitar runs and drums fills cascade over two gong smashes as a guitar rhythm runs rampant at top speed. Here, Deep Purple’s chemistry is at the top of its game, while Blackmore quickly steals the piece into areas of rawkus instrumental romping that leads into the second best part of this album in terms of total ape-shitting: the ending. It all tips into a haywired hayride killing field of noise as Blackmore shoves his belaboured Strat against the amp, between his legs, drops it to the floor and kicks it with his booted foot as all the noise from these violent actions spew out stereo-panned. The other instruments have long faded out and Blackmore is now alone in super-reverbed studio-ness and is just short of ripping the strings from his guitar and sending it flying through the studio glass.

After this album, Roger Glover’s bass would never be smothered in the mix again.

Flash bastards all, and I love them for it.