ALTHOUGH it’s true to say that Deep Purple, throughout their long and illustrious history, were primarily an album and live concert band, this here singles compilation is nonetheless successful in giving a decidedly different, rather unique slant to their career.
Despite spanning a mere three years, from July 1968 (with ‘Hush’/’One More Rainy Day’) to October 1371 (with ‘Fireball’/’Demon’s Eye’), the band’s instrumental progression during this period sounds truly immense.
‘Hush) after all, is just a reworking-if an adventurous one-of a hit 45 of the day; while at the other end of the spectrum ‘Fireball’ presents the Purps in full flight, in perhaps their hardest-hitting, heaviest and finest hour.
It’s interesting to note the diversity between the two sides of this album. The first, featuring the mk. I Ritchie Blackmore/Jon Lord/Ian Paice/Nick Simper/ Rod Evans band line up, is basic, formative and often lacks true direction; the second, however, is much more powerful and positive-due in no small measure to the departures of Simper and Evans and the subsequent arrivals of ex-Episode Six men, bass player Roger Glover and silver throated screaming vocalist Ian Gillan.
But back to ‘Hush’… Deep Purple’s first single, a fast, frantic cover version of the Joe South hit and written not by South himself (as was credited on the early album sleeves) but by one Billy Joe Royal. Taken from the band’s debut album ‘Shades Of Deep Purple) ‘Hush’ enjoyed considerable chart action in the States, selling 200,000 copies in a fortnight (a large amount in those days) and prompting music papers to run headlines such as ‘Unknown British group takes US by storm!
Despite its popularity in America, ‘Hush’ largely failed to make much of an impression in Britain, a fate shared by subsequent non-album cut UK singles
‘Emaretta’ (rumoured to be a tribute to a girl in the New York cast of ‘Hair’) and the little-known number ‘Hallelujah!
The B-sides on offer, ‘One More Rainy Day,’ ‘Wring That Neck’ and ‘April Part One; are familiar LP tracks, the last being an edited version of the ‘epic’ number on the third ‘Deep Purple’ album and providing a hint of what was next to come in the DP scheme of things, namely the ambitious album ‘Concerto For Group And Orchestra!
Side two is where matters really take off, however. ‘Black Night’ soared up to as high as number two in the British charts in a strange, well nigh inexplicable period in the autumn of 1970 when heavy rock briefly became hot commercial property (around the same time Black Sabbath’s ‘Paranoid’ was also in the singles listings).
The band were quick to capitalise on the success of ‘Night! first with ‘Strange Kind of Woman’ which rose to number eight in early ’71 and then with ‘Fireball’ which made it to 15 in December of that same year.
Meanwhile, of the three B-sides Tm Alone’ is the only track not taken from an album, the others-‘Speed King’ and ‘Demon’s Eye’-being available, respectively, on the ‘In Rock’ and ‘Fireball’ LPs.
None of the 45s here present could really be termed conventional singles chart fodder-after all, this is hardly a traditional ‘Greatest Hits’ collection. But grouped together these tracks provide an intriguing insight into the musical development of early Deep Purple.
And anyway, those original, age-old Harvest seven-inchers really were sounding rather the worse for wear…