Deep Purple – Shades of Deep Purple: #384 of best 1,000 albums ever!

Deep Purple - Shades of Deep Purple

So why is Deep Purple’s Shades of Deep Purple on this best 1,000 albums ever thing?

If you’d ask the average music fan about Deep Purple in 2023, I’d bet that if they had anything to say about the band at all, they might venture, “Is that ‘The Smoke on the Water’ band”?

And the answer – ding ding ding – would be yes. And it’s a fine song, if a little overindulgent in a fun early 1970s kind of a way.

The best version of Deep Purple for me though is the early stuff, which is perfectly captured on Shades of Deep Purple, the band’s debut album from 1968. It includes “Hush,” another hit song that classic rock fans will recognize, in addition to a bevy of late ‘60s British hard rock infused with psychedelia that’s an exceptional listen end to end.

Let’s start with “Hush,” which is by far my favorite Deep Purple song, and one of the best to come out of the late 1960s scene. It’s got a great rollicking and “big” sounding hook, and is overall powered by a dynamite use of the organ by Jon Lord. And Ian Gillan’s lead vocals place Deep Purple on a different level from other bands of the era as well.

“Mandrake Root” owes a lot to Jimi Hendrix’ “Foxy Lady” for its main hook, but it layers a lot of wild flourishes of psychedelia and other elements on top of this six minutes-plus number to make it an incredible original all its own.

It’s also important to note that unlike many other psychedelic rock bands, these guys sound like they’re having a hell of a good time busting these numbers out.

Speaking of Jimi Hendrix, there are two all time great cover songs on Shades of Deep Purple: “Hey Joe” by Jimi himself (and more on this one below!), and a wildly original take on The Beatles’ “Help.”

“Hey Joe” takes on an epic, slowed down, and cinematic feel, like we’re in the closing moments of a Martin Scorsese-directed Spaghetti Western (and how fun would that be, right?).

And likewise, Deep Purple does a magnificent thing by slowing “Help” way down and turning it into an earnest and emotional yet still very much rocking number.

Personal stuff that has something to do with Deep Purple’s Shaded of Deep Purple

The notion of cover versions of “Hey Joe” takes me back into the time period of my freshman year at Binghamton University in upstate New York.

My man Adam was one of the first new friends* I made there, and we remain close pals to this day. Our friendship was forged over a love of music, and indeed we spent many hours playing music together: me on bass guitar (replete with my Stone amp and its “slap bass” feature), Adam on guitar. I was mediocre at best, and Adam much, much better than that**.

* A number of my close friends from high school also went to Binghamton, though we all kind of split off for the first year or two to find our own way. By the time we were upperclassmen, our high school and “college” friend groups had melded and merged in many ways.

** We called our musical project BOOZ under the half-joking notion that we’d put up signs around campus announcing FREE BOOZ, which would surely drive out the beer loving masses to see our shows. We never did play an actual gig, though some people would be forced to witness our live jam sessions in our dorm’s laundry room while they waited for the dryer cycle to spin through.  

Occasionally, we would head over to Newing, which had a much “cooler” reputation versus our nerdier digs over at Dickenson. Adam knew a guy named Scott, also a guitar player, and we’d head to his dorm room to jam.

And you know what, Newing was cooler in a cool college-y kind of way. We’d turn our amps way up, and no one seemed to care. And other people would show up with their instruments and jam along with us into the gloomy Binghamton evenings.

“Hey Joe” was a staple that we’d play, both because it’s a great song and the many opportunities it affords to jam out.

Scott was a very good guitarist in his own right, and would play this song that I believe was called “Butterflies,” that involved some very early ‘90s hard rock/funk-type riffs and influence.

The other thing that I recall about Scott was that he would answer his dorm room phone in very Newing-like fashion. For example, he’d lift up the receiver and proclaim, “Welcome to the Terrordome!”

I must admit, I found that to be quite cool indeed, wide-eyed freshman that I was.

Some stats & info about Deep Purple – Shades of Deep Purple

  • What kind of musical stylings does this album represent? Rock Music, Hard Rock, Psychedelic Rock, British Bands
  • Rolling Stone’s greatest 500 albums ranking – not ranked!
  • All Music’s rating – 4 out of 5 stars
  • When was Shades of Deep Purple released? 1968
  • My ranking, the one you’re reading right now – #384 out of 1,000

Deep Purple’s Shades of Deep Purple on YouTube

A lyrical snippet from Deep Purple’s Shades of Deep Purple that’s evocative of the album in some way, maybe

Hush, hush, I thought I heard her calling my name now.

What does the “best 1,000 albums ever” mean and why are you doing this?

Yeah, I know it’s audacious, a little crazy (okay, maybe a lot cray cray), bordering on criminal nerdery.

But here’s what it’s NOT: a definitive list of the Greatest Albums of All-Time. This is 100% my own personal super biased, incredibly subjective review of what my top 1,000 albums are, ranked in painstaking order over the course of doing research for nearly a year, Rob from High Fidelity style. Find out more about why I embarked on a best 1,000 albums ever project.