Tag Archives: Deep Purple

Rocks In The Attic #830: Silverchair – ‘Frogstomp’ (1995)

RITA#830Definitely an album from my youth. I was 17 when I saw Silverchair on this tour at Manchester University’s Student’s Union. Was I jealous? Of course, I was. Here were three 15-year old Australians, touring the world as a rock band, albeit chaperoned by their parents.

It’s even more incredible to find out that this record was recorded in 9 days. Produced by Kevin Shirley, who would go on to record much bigger things (one of his next jobs was co-producing Aerosmith’s Nine Lives), it’s twelve songs of teen-angst doom rock, put through a grunge filter. Back Sabbath via Pearl Jam.

One of the songwriting strengths of frontman Daniel John and drummer Ben Gillies is they don’t fall back on a great riff and stretch it out to a verse-verse-chorus-verse-chorus formula. Their songs have multiple sections where new riffs and grooves are introduced out of the blue.

RITA#830aYou can listen to a song like Faultline and think you understand where it’s going, but then a different section starts at 2:50. Okay, you think, they’ll just stay on this jam until the end of the song. And then it changes again at 3:25. It’s something that you can spot in early Sabbath, Deep Purple and Metallica; a progressive rock approach to heavy metal.

A year after this album’s release, when the band were still only 16 years old, one of their songs, the album’s opener Israel’s Son, was used as the scapegoat defence by the lawyer of two American teenagers found guilty of shooting one of their sets of parents and a younger brother. Obviously, it wasn’t the first time rock music has been blamed for acts of senseless violence and destruction, and it won’t be the last. Lawyers have just stopped playing albums backwards to look for blame.

This release is a nice 2019 reissue by Simply Vinyl on double frog-green vinyl, including an etched D-side (of the frog) and limited to 5,000 copies. Simply Vinyl might be one of my favourite reissue labels. This record is only 44 minutes long and could easily have fit on two sides of wax, but I’m glad they gave it some space to breathe across three sides.

I tried and tried to unlock the band’s follow-up, Freak Show (1997), but it didn’t grab me the same way, and by Neon Ballroom (1999) I had left the party.

Hit: Tomorrow

Hidden Gem: Madman

RITA#830b

Rocks In The Attic #405: Deep Purple – ‘Deepest Purple’ (1980)

RITA#405One of the good things about Deep Purple is their almost prog-ish approach to heavy metal – six minutes of a track like Highway Star is the norm, rather than the exception. It also works against them, because when Warner Brothers / Harvest decide to release a compilation of the band’s hits, there’s a difficult decision to be made: either release an awesome – loud! – double LP, or take the easy way out, and employ noise reduction techniques to cram all of the songs on one disc.

So it’s a shame that this album runs at sixty four minutes, and sounds quiet as hell – not what you need when listening to Purple. Yes, you can turn it up, but it’s not the same, is it? I’ve fallen out with bands who’ve done this to their fans – Manic Street Preachers’ Know Your Enemy being one horrible, seventy five minute example – so it’s not something I can easily overlook. Cheap bastards!

Every home should own a Deep Purple record – whether it be a studio album (Machine Head is the obvious choice) or a compilation – just as they should own something by Zeppelin and Sabbath. The three together really are the holy trinity of heavy metal. But of the three, Purple are probably the band that gets the least amount of press – possibly because Ritchie Blackmore is just such a raving oddball, and doesn’t exactly do wonders for his band’s legacy. That Mark II line-up of Purple should be as celebrated as similar bands where there’s no weak link among the players in the spotlight, or across the back line. Instead, they come across as a poor cousin of metal’s founding fathers – just plain wrong.

Hit: Smoke On The Water

Hidden Gem: Burn

Rocks In The Attic #308: Boston – ‘Boston’ (1976)

RITA#308More Than A Feeling is always mentioned as an influence on Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit and held up as the one song it shares the most DNA with. The similarities are there – a catchy rock song built around a cyclical guitar riff – but that’s about it. A lot of famous guitar riffs are cyclical – it’s a hallmark of a catchy riff – but I see no reason to single Boston out.

You wouldn’t think it, but once you get past the family-friendly More Than A Feeling, Boston’s debut turns into a decent hard rock album – the pop single is definitely the softest thing on there. I know Smokin’ from the soundtrack to Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, and the rest of the album can be summarised by that song much better than its opening hit single. If anything, Boston come across as an American Deep Purple – guitar and organ led rock songs, with an unrelenting rhythm section.

The album is still the second best-selling debut album of all time in the United States (after Appetite For Destruction), and I guess that fact alone points to how important this album is to the musical psyche of that country – something that may not translate as well to the rest of the world.

Hit: More Than A Feeling

Hidden Gem: Foreplay / Long Time

Rocks In The Attic #300: Various Artists – ‘Dazed And Confused (O.S.T.)’ (1993)

RITA#300Rocks In The Attic turns 300!

Not only a great film, Richard Linklater’s Dazed And Confused also has a killer soundtrack – probably the one soundtrack that has had the greatest influence on the rest of my record collection. I’ve waited a long to get this on vinyl, and finally on Record Store Day this year it was released to celebrate the film’s 20th anniversary. I had to get it shipped over from the USA by my local record store, but it was worth the wait. It’s a double vinyl, and – to borrow a line from the film, “…it’s green too!”

I first heard about Dazed And Confused on my daily walk to school when I was 15. My good friend Ant used to do the same walk – through the fields behind my parents’ house that are no longer fields (they’re a housing estate), past the Elk mill that’s no longer a mill (it was demolished to make way for a retail centre) – and onto Clayton playing fields towards North Chadderton school.

On these walks, Ant would tell me about stuff he’d picked up from his brother. I owe my love of Bill Hicks to Ant and his brother – and I also owe my love of Dazed And Confused to them. Ant probably lent me their VHS copy of the film, but it wouldn’t be long until I acquired my own copy, and played it many, many time over the next few years into my late teens. I’d take this film to University with me, and turn lots of my friends onto it over the years.

On paper, Dazed And Confused doesn’t sound very interesting. It’s the story of high-school kids in Texas on their last day of school, but nothing really happens. There’s very little plot – just a lot of good music and more of a feeling about the time and place rather than any tangible storyline. But that’s probably true of a lot of youth films – Quadrophenia, The Breakfast Club, American Graffiti, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, etc.

Other than the killer soundtrack, the film also boasts an impressive cast of actors before they hit the big time – Ben Affleck, Matthew McConaughey, Milla Jovovich, Renée Zellweger, Parker Posey and Adam Goldberg all pop up in small but memorable roles.

But let’s talk about the music. I must have bought the soundtrack on CD as soon as I saw it, and it became the soundtrack to my summer of 1995. It’s fourteen tracks of rock music – some of which was already familiar to me – Sabbath’s Paranoid, ZZ Top’s Tush, Alice Cooper’s School’s Out – but it introduced me to a whole lot more.

For me, the soundtrack acted as a sampler – it turned me onto Ted Nugent’s first solo album, Skynyrd’s debut album and deepened my love of early ZZ Top. The second iteration of the soundtrack – Even More Dazed And Confused – even showed me that it’s okay to like Frampton Comes Alive!.

In fact, I love that second CD as much as the first. I remember being at a party at Palatine Road in Manchester and using Moo’s knowledge of Bob Dylan to collectively figure out why two of the film’s songs wasn’t included on either CD – Aerosmith’s Sweet Emotion and Dylan’s Hurricane are both on the Columbia record label, so there must have been some conflict of interest with The Medicine Label who brought out the soundtrack albums.

It’s almost criminal that the Aerosmith track isn’t included on the soundtrack – it’s the song that opens the film! I hear this was a last minute substitution though, after Robert Plant wouldn’t allow Linklater to use the Zeppelin song of the film’s name over those opening credits. Perhaps they just didn’t have time to think about whether they’d be able to clear Sweet Emotion for the soundtrack album.

There are a lot of hidden gems on this album. For one, the slow-burn of Ted Nugent’s Stranglehold reminds me of cruising around in a pale yellow Nissan Stanza with Stotty and Bez on Friday and Saturday nights. Good times!

Hit: Slow Ride – Foghat

Hidden Gem: Low Rider – War

Rocks In The Attic #132: Deep Purple – ‘Machine Head’ (1972)

Rocks In The Attic #132: Deep Purple - ‘Machine Head’ (1972)This album kicks ass. It was recorded in Montreux, Switzerland, using the Rolling Stones mobile studio. That particular piece of equipment was responsible for some landmark albums throughout the ‘70s, and this is definitely one of them.

Everybody knows the opening guitar riff to Smoke On The Water, but beyond that first minute or so, it’s a really soulful piece of music, considering it’s supposed to be the blueprint for heavy metal. The lyrics shouldn’t work either. Imagine a heavy rock song released in the 21st century, where the lyrics recount the inspiration, and the subsequent recording of the song. It sounds terrible – a band resigning themselves to banality because they can’t come up with any original ideas; but everything about Smoke On The Water is awesome.

History – and every guitar magazine on the planet – would have you believe that Ritchie Blackmore is the hero of this album – but Jon Lord’s keyboards really steal the show for me (with Ian Gillan’s vocals a close second). The organ work throughout the album is superb – through the prog rock workouts of Highway Star and Lazy – and that’s coming from a man who usually thinks organs belong in church.

Hit: Smoke On The Water

Hidden Gem: Lazy