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Deep Purple in Rock is where the band laid down their blueprint for a subsequent long string of successful albums. That blueprint was ... to ditch the progressive stuff, distort Blackmore's guitar and Lord's organ, and then have them duelling over riffs and power chords.

The flaw in that plan is that Lord is by far the weaker of the two soloists - being more of a foil for Blackmore than an actual competitor. Sure, he sounds like a church organist possessed by the devil, but then neither an overly-talented devil nor church organist. The result is that Lord sounds like he never met a minor scale he didn't like, and he throws little classical twirls into his playing, as on "Speed King", where he plays like an evil Ray Manzarek.

On the other hand, Blackmore emerged as a fully-developed player with all the tricks - string scraping on "Hard Lovin' Man", triplets on "Flight of the Rat", and fantastic note bending almost everywhere, making Lord's playing look pale in comparison.

Ian Gillan was probably the best front-man in early metal, not only could he sing full-throated, but his trademark is a sort of screaming operatic falsetto. If Lord sounded like he was possessed, Gillan sang like he was trying to convince us that he was likewise under the influence.

Finally, Ian Paice also deserves praise because he kept things interesting - even during his drum solo on "Flight of the Rat" - without being overly flashy.

All that is applied to a set of bluesy songs with a Classical influence, and fortunately not just relying on riffs either. Unfortunately though, because the material is subject to pretty much the same production, despite the excellence of playing, the individual songs tend to be indistinguishable from each other. The only real exception is the well-constructed 10-minute "Child In Time".

Deep Purple in Rock gets hailed as a landmark of early metal, but it's really more a signpost of things to come, due to its lack of memorable tunes.

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Posted: Monday 20th Jan 2003 11:47 PM

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album review
From this album's opening chords I knew it was going to be different ... it wasn't Art Rock. It wasn't metal. Nor was it misogynistic Hard Rock. It isn't even the Sex Pistols. This was 'rock' rock - fast, basic, and infectious.

With two guitars and a rhythm section - and no pomp - for their political and age-dividing message, The Clash draw on loud power chords, and infuse songs with reggae, such as "(White Man) in Hammersmith Palais" and "Police and Thieves".

The album's opening "Clash City Rockers" explains The Clash in a nutshell. Intentional or otherwise, the first three chords are the same as The Who's "I Can't Explain", thereby drawing on that mid-60's image of crackerjack R&B, calling forth once again all the old 'generational divide' frustrations. But this is no mere homage or revival, that chord sequence goes on - The Clash took that traditional sound further with a clean simple production, with none of the mess of the Sex Pistols, and no Johnny Rotten on vocals either.

Joe Strummer and Mick Jones are both fine guitarists (check the alternating guitar lines on "Complete Control"). Strummer (who has a distinct voice - slightly gruff) sings most of the leads, with Jones handling the backing vocals. And despite having legions of progeny that consist of 14 year olds with spiked hair complaining about love gone bad over truly abysmal playing, these original punks stick to social issues, as on "Hate and War" and "Remote Control".

The album is a triumph of songwriting, with one great song after another, with only a few lesser moments (such as "Garageland"). Along with a couple of killer covers, in the form of "I Fought the Law" and the reggae masterpiece "Police and Thieves", I couldn't ask for more.

I haven't heard the UK version of The Clash, the US version replaces a few tracks with UK singles, consisting of short punchy songs that never lose their focus or social conscience.

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Posted: Wednesday 1st Sep 2004 7:20 PM

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