The first time I heard Deep Purple – or perhaps felt Deep Purple is a better way to describe the experience – it was the mid-70s. I was 8, and Ritchie Blackmore’s sinewy, sinister riffing on the “Made In Japan” version of “Child In Time,” coupled with Ian Gillan’s dramatic, gorgeous howling, Jon Lord’s ominous neo-classical Hammond organ, and the dynamic interplay of the Roger Glover-Ian Paice rhythm section, tore the top of my head off.
It was unlike anything else I’d ever heard. And it quite literally changed my life.
30 years later, I’m still hearing Deep Purple for the first time.
“Rapture of the Deep” is the spot-on moniker for the disc you hold in your hands, and I’ll stand on any classic rock radio programmer’s desk in my cowboy boots and scream it loud, proud and Gillan-esque; “This is the best Deep Purple album there is, dammit! Forget ‘Machine Head’ – that was then; this is most decidedly now!”
This is the fourth record created by the revamped and rejuvenated Purple following the umpteenth departure of the mercurial Mr. Blackmore. The guitarist – one of the most significant in British rock history - had ceased to be a contributing force and was in fact draining Purple of its collective spirit when his ship finally set sail for good, a bit over a decade back.
Blackmore's exit is, in a sense, where our story begins, for the surviving band members left to pick up the pieces in his violent wake – Gillan, Glover, Lord, Paice – agreed unanimously on only one six-stringer, the soon to be knighted Steve Morse. Hardly scraping the dregs from the bottom of the barrel with that choice, boys.