Deep Purple: Deep Purple (1969)
Deep Purple’s original lineup of guitarist Ritchie Blackmore, organist Jon Lord, vocalist Rod Evans, bassist Nick Simper, and drummer Ian Paice was running out of steam by the release of this eponymous third album, in 1969.
Amazingly, barely a year had passed since the London-based quintet’s debut album, Shades of Deep Purple, had turned a cover of Jo South’s “Hush” into a massive U.S. Top 5 single, basically making them stars-in-waiting, in America anyway.
But, back home in the U.K., modest sales of both that first LP and Purple’s second, The Book of Taliesyn, colluded with mounting financial troubles at their U.S. label Tetragrammaton (co-owned by now disgraced comedian Bill Cosby, of all people) to put undue pressure on the sessions for this crucial third attempt.
Pressure that saw the band reaching for a hit with a tepid cover of Donovan’s “Lalena” and losing themselves in a transitional netherworld of psychedelic, progressive and hard rock with not-quite-there originals like “Chasing Shadows” and “Fault Line/The Painter.”
Sure, a dozen listens may convert you to the baroque ‘n’ roll of “Blind,” the bluesy thrust of “Why Didn’t Rosemary,” and certainly the album’s strongest number, “The Bird has Flown” (which, incidentally, bore no relation to The Beatles’ tune).
But Deep Purple’s greatest asset, at this time, wasn’t their confused songwriting, it was their stellar musicianship, with Blackmore, Lord and Paice, in particular, showcasing all of their skill on the ambitious, if commercially doomed foray into symphonic rock via the twelve-minute “April.”
This would, of course, lead to the next year’s career detour and dead-end, Concerto for Group and Orchestra, by which time Evans and Simper had been supplanted by new singer Ian Gillan and bassist Roger Glover, thus solidifying the legendary Mk. II lineup.
Together, these five hairies would soon make Deep Purple’s ‘60s escapades a distant and/or forgotten memory, as they charged into the new heavy metal era with form-defining classics like In Rock, Fireball and Machine Head, leaving predecessors like this one in their dust.
p.s. -- Almost forgot to mention the gatefold cover’s nifty, black-and-white reproduction of the right panel of Hieronymus Bosch’s famous triptych, The Garden of Earthly Delights, whose nightmare visions have of course graced many a heavy metal album over the years.
p.p.s. -- Some of these words were adapted from a couple of earlier pieces written about this album for Ultimate Classic Rock.
More Deep Purple: In Rock, “Black Night,” Fireball, Machine Head, Made in Japan, Who Do We Think We Are?, Burn, Stormbringer, Come Taste the Band, Perfect Strangers, Fireworks, Slaves and Masters.
4 notes · View notes
London’s OAK Stream Final Record as an Extraordinary Adventure Comes to an End
~Doomed & Stoned Debuts~
Review by Billy Goate
Artwork by Unexpected Specter
Excitedly, I opened an email from the United Kingdom'sOAK, which gave word to webzines and bloggers of a new EP coming. 'Fin' (2021) it will be called. My heart sank as I read: "This will be the last output for the band before each member moves on to other musical endeavours." It's always a sad announcement for a band to make, as much as it is for their fans to receive.
"Hear ye, hear ye!" chime the bells as the record opens, calling our attention to the end of an era. The mighty Oak is no more. Soft acoustic guitar noodles a gentle melody and is accompanied in short order by a pensive violin.
The next track leaves room for sadness, though its principle riff does carry some measure of melancholy. "Beyond..." is a fantastic and powerful song, looking as it were through the eyes of the mighty Quercus who has witnessed the passion, creativity, and sheer might of Andy Valiant (vox), Kevin Germain (guitar), Richard Morgan (bass), and Alex De La Cour's (drums) collaborative efforts, each of the band's EPs characteristically marked with the etchings of the Unexpected Spector.
Even blithe to the circumstances surrounding this song, I would defy you to suppress the emotion you'll doubtless feel welling up inside as you audit its hearty chorus. In a perfect world, this is a band that would have been plucked up and put on bills around the world with the likes of Mastodon, Elder, and DVNE. Nevertheless, Oak's incredible output remains as a testament to their greatness, a monument of sound for generations to come to discover, finding there both solace and inspiration.
"Broken King" carries on in heroic fashion, with lusty verses accompanied by strong guitars, poignant drumming, and basswork you can feel right in the gut. The leads are beautifully appointed and the other band members join Andy at rousing moments in the verses to underscore the significance of the words. The song is interrupted by the gentle acoustic picking and subtle violin play that greeted us as the EP's opening, then a lusty solo from Kevin's guitar burns a trail back to the song's chorus, which once again is accompanied by multiple voices and finally a triumphant "OH! OH! OH!"
"The songs were written over the past couple of years in between touring in the UK and in Europe," OAK penned in their farewell email, "and recorded with Wayne Adams at Bear Bites Horse studio in London in Last October. This is closing a chapter that we started with our first three EPs: Oak I, II, and III. We think it is our best studio effort to date."
I cannot but agree. Look for Oak's Fin to make its final bow on Friday, May 14th on their Bandcamp page. In the meanwhile, Doomed & Stoned is pleased to bring you this first listen as we pay our respects to one of London's musical greats.
Oak · Fin
Oak Announce Final Record
A Statement From The Band
Like for any other band, 2020 has been a bit of a peculiar year for us. We had played our last gig in December 2019 at the underdog gallery in London, wrapping up an excellent run that we'd had in September where we toured with 1968 in France and Belgium. And a few weeks later embarked on a Scottish tour, finishing the run by playing at the main stage of HRH Doom VS Stoner and opening for Fireball Ministry at the Black Heart in London. At the end of 2019 we had made the decision to focus the first half of 2020 to writing, recording and releasing new music before going on to play any more shows as it had taken so much of our energy and focus in 2019 and our last output started to feel a bit stale.
When the pandemic hit, we were sort of already prepared not to play any gigs for a few months, so it came in at the right time for us.
By summer 2020 we managed to complete 4 songs, and had time booked in to record with Wayne Adams in London to record in September. At around that time Alex, our drummer (also in Butcher in the Fog) decided to go back to study in Scotland, after the recording sessions were done.
We debated whether to start looking for a new drummer or not, and after 6 years, we felt like we had accomplished what we intended to do in the first place with Oak, and it probably exceeded our expectations thanks to all the great people that supported us throughout the years.
We will most likely re-appear in various formations in the scene in the near future. Rich, our bassist, is keen to continue with a new musical project in a vein that is close to Oak, whilst Andy and myself are thinking about what we'd like to do next, whether it being together or separately. We really wanted to end the Oak years in a bang and decided to release Fin and announce the end of the band at the same time. We're very proud of this record and have spent more time putting it together than any of our previous efforts.
About The Record
A Track-By-Track Description of 'Fin' from Oak
For these songs we really took the time to focus more on lyrics then in the previous releases. Lyrics used to be more of an afterthought rather than an actual focus but on Fin they are much more considered.
Musically these songs were put together in the usual way starting with a riff or two drums added, and we go from there. As a band we worked hard to make Wayne’s job at Bear Bites Horse as easy as possible by being properly prepared before entering the studio, this once again hasn’t always been the case in previous visits to Kore Music where we recorded ourselves. We saw working with Wayne as a great opportunity to be captured at our most prepared and focused.
Wayne understood very quickly what these songs are about and knew how to get the best out of every member to make sure we were delivering our very best performances. We all came out of the studio better musicians and with a deeper knowledge of recording.
"Beyond…" takes some inspiration from Sleep’s Dopesmoker album cover. The song is about a character who has entered a different dimension in the mind and is viewing the ‘world’ or ‘reality’ from a vastly different angle. He is wandering endlessly through the desert or wherever his feet take him. The idea comes from basically seeing ‘Beyond…’ the conventional systems we construct around ourselves.
"Broken King" is loosely based on some elements of John Milton’s Paradise Lost but also looks at the struggle between the future and the past. The Broken King character represents the past dying on a hillside for his lost kingdom.
Lyrics to the two songs were composed by Andy Valiant and Rich Morgan. One thing that Andy has brought over the years to Oak is the spoken word parts, he likes to be over the top and lends a dramatic element to the delivery which we have captured well on these recordings.
Interestingly enough, Andy was unsure about coming to the audition back in 2015 and actually flipped a coin over the decision. Luckily he picked heads and joined us that night.
It's been six years since we first started rehearsing and we’ve had an incredible time, met some wonderful people and played some outstanding venues. Lockdown changed a lot for the whole world and Oak had a long hard look at ourselves and realized we’d achieved as much as we wanted to do and so wanted to finish on a high. Thanks so much to everyone who bought merch, bought tickets, let us sleep on their floor, drove us around, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.
WE WERE OAK!
Oak was started in 2015 by guitarist and studio engineer Kevin Germain who started playing Kyuss tunes with London-based musicians Scott Masson and Rob Emms during downtime at West London recording facility Kore. They were soon joined by vocalist Andy Valiant (then playing in viking doom band Ossiyan) and the 4-piece quickly composed and recorded the material for their first release “Oak I” within weeks of its inception.
Oak by Oak
The EP received a bit of attention from online blogs and stoner rock authorities, and after Rob left the drummer seat to Clinton Ritchie, the 4 embarked on what would be the recording for Oak II less than a year after their first release.
Oak II by Oak
Oak II received critical acclaim and widespread online coverage, making numerous appearances in “Top Stoner and Doom Albums of 2016”, enabling the band to tour extensively in the UK and share the stage with the giants of the genre such as Asteroid, Belzebong, and Greenleaf among others.
Oak went on to play nationwide gigs and was a landmark in the UK’s heavy underground scene for its pummeling live shows, blending heavy hitting music elements with an energetic visual performance -- a testimony to the band’s admiration for the theatrical performance of classic '70s legends of rock.
Oak III by Oak
During its extensive gigging, and after putting the finishing touches on Oak III, the band went through multiple lineup changes to hit a magic combination with Richard Morgan (from The Quarry) on bass duties, and Alex De La Cour (drummer and founder of Butcher In The Fog).
On its way to record its first full-length album in 2019, Oak was booked for the most recent edition of HRH Doom vs Stoner and with ambitions of visiting Scotland, Ireland, France and Belgium before the start of the global pandemic, achieving many of its touring goals before the Great Lockdown of 2020. 'Fin' (2021) is its last record, as the band closes the pages on an incredible chapter and each member looks on joyfully to future endeavors.
Follow The Band
Get Their Music