Hang with me, all right? I’m sure Townsmen Andyr and Chickenfrank already know what I’m getting at, but this may be an alien subject to many of you. I really like Deep Purple’s “Hush” although I don’t like much else by the band. For me, what makes “Hush” so much better than their big hits from the years following is that they sound like a ’60s band. “Hush” has a lot in common with ’60s blues-rock hits I love, such as Spencer Davis Group‘s “I’m a Man”, the best songs of Cream, and every one of Steppenwolf‘s greatest hits. “Hush” has a chunky midsection, with large traces of soul music – no matter how plodding – that later Deep Purple songs don’t have in anywhere near the abundance. As the band took on – even helped create – the sound of early ’70s heavy rock, they started losing that groovin’, chunky, soul feel and took on a more brittle edge. (As another point of reference, I’m sure Andyr will tell you the same thing happened with Led Zeppelin from their debut to their second album.)
Maybe you’ve heard the band’s 1968 take on “Kentucky Woman”. THIS is Deep Purple I can get behind. It sounds like Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels. Groovy, baby!
Even the band’s overblown, Procol Harum-like take on The Beatles’ “Help” is pretty cool and loaded with that ’60s vibe that I favor.
As early as 1970, however, on “Child in Time”, the band was already abandoning its ’60s sound. The outbreak of screeching and wanking is totally uncool, not the slightest bit groovy. Why did the band behind “Hush” and some other funny, slightly corny efforts on their debut album have to move into the ’70s so soon?
“Highway Star” still has a touch of that late-60s gut-rock.
“Smoke on the Water” has a little bit of that “Sookie Sookie” downbeat from the guitar and organ, but other than that they’re headed for a high-end, larger-than-life approach befitting the era of Shed Rock and Festival Seating.
A song entitled “Speed King” does not bode well for those of us who value the restraint, cool, and midsection groove of ’60s music. Sure enough the song delivers the…bads.
By the time of this 1974 performance of “Burn” we’re talking exclusively lean, white stoner rock, all pomp and circumstance, no more chunky gut-rock. Check out the segment at about 2:20 into this song. My lord, that’s no longer cool by ’60s standards!
So the example I’ve provided is this one, of the ’60s having ended too soon for Deep Purple. For Andyr, as I’ve mentioned, the ’60s ended too soon for Led Zeppelin. Are there artists for whom a decade ended too soon, be it any decade? Is there an artist you might have liked better given enough time to develop within the stylistic conventions of the closing years of a particular decade? Take your time. Think about it.