Deep Purple best exemplifies the "give-the-people-what-they-want" syndrome. The core members of the band—guitarist Ritchie Blackmore and organist Jon Lord—were classically trained as well as possessing lengthy resumes as professional musicians; however, after several albums of progressive rock experimentation accompanied by spotty popularity, they opted for a stripped-down heavy metal sound, achieving a huge following in the process.
Despite the fact that all original members of the group—Blackmore, Lord, drummer Ian Paice, bassist Nick Simper, and vocalist Rod Evans—hailed from England, none of their recordings were released there through mid-1969. In the meantime, three U.S. albums—Shades of Deep Purple (Tetragrammaton 102; 1968; #24; including the Top Five single, "Hush," Tetragrammaton 1503), The Book of Taliesyn (Tetragrammaton 107; 1968; #54), and Deep Purple (Tetragrammaton 119; 1969; #162)—sold moderately well, blending classical motifs with hard rock (e.g., liberal borrowings from Rimsky-Korsakov’s Sheherazade in "And the Address"/"I’m So Glad" medley). The three-part song-suite, "April," (included within the ill-fated third album, which disappeared from retail outlets shortly after release when Tetragrammaton went out of business) anticipated the band’s next recording, Deep Purple/The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra "Concerto for Group and Orchestra (Warner Bros. 1860; 1970; #149). Although the release earned some critical raves, sales were flat; a side project by written and produced by Lord, Gemini Suite (Capitol 870; 1971), would be the last flirtation with the symphonic format by band members.
The band’s fifth LP, Deep Purple in Rock (Warner Bros. 1877; 1970; #143), represented a major stylistic shift to classic heavy metal, spearheaded by lead vocalist, Ian Gillan (who’d replaced Evans in July 1969 and would attract further attention singing the lead role in the stage version of the rock opera, Jesus Christ Superstar). Later albums—Fireball (Warner Bros. 2564; 1971; #32), Machine Head (Warner Bros. 2607; 1972; #7), Who Do We Think We Are? (Warner Bros. 2678; 1973; #15), Made In Japan (Warner Bros. 2701; 1973; #6), Burn (Warner Bros. 2766; 1974; #9), and Stormbringer (Warner Bros. 2832; 1974; #20)—continued the formula, paying considerable financial dividends. The band’s momentum would ultimately be undermined by the loss of key personnel: Glover and Gillan departed in 1973, followed by Blackmore in 1975. Deep Purple would officially disband following the release of Come Taste the Band (Warner Bros. 2895; 1975; #43); the label would release Made in Europe (Warner Bros. 2995; 1976; #148) and various retrospective compilations in order to capitalize on lingering interest in the band.
Band members remained active in new alignments; most notably, Blackmore in Rainbow, and Lord and Paice in Whitesnake. The success of second generation metal bands, particularly those adapting to the video medium, spurred a reunion of the band’s early 1970s lineup. Subsequent releases—Perfect Strangers (Mercury 824003; 1984; #17; The House of Blue Light (Mercury 831318; 1987; #34), Nobody’s Perfect (Mercury 835897; 1988; #105, Slaves and Masters (RCA 2421; 1990; #87), The Battle Rages On (RCA 24517; 1993; #21), Come Hell or High Water (RCA 23416; 1994), Purpendicular (RCA 33802; 1996; #58), and Abandon (RCA 495306; 1998)—charted, albeit less dramatically the second time around.
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