Friday, 20 July 2012

24 Carat Purple

It was with sadness earlier in the week when I heard about the death of Deep Purple keyboardist Jon Lord. I know Deep Purple aren't strictly a metal outfit but they - along with The Kinks, Zeppelin, Iron Butterfly, Blue Cheer, The Who etc - helped lay the foundations of metal.
Deep Purple's Child in Time is the first time I can ever remember having a heavy rock song make a big impression on me. I knew about metal, of course, from an aborted attempt at being gifted K-Tel's Axe Attack and by regular appearances on Top of the Pops and Tiswas by bands like Motorhead and Purple's Ian Gillan's eponymous band. But when I first heard Child in Time by Deep Purple it just about blew my head off and made me feel scared and excited at the same time.
I first heard it while on a family camping holiday in the Lake District. We visited some relations in Seascale, Cumbria. Seascale is the village that's closest to the Sellafield nuclear reprocessing plant where my uncle worked. He had two stepchildren, a son and a daughter, and on the day it was decided that I should go 'and play' with the son. He was a couple of years older than me and after messing about on the beach for a bit (where he told me the sea was radioactive. Turns out he was right) we decided to repair to his bedroom. I wasn't properly into music at this point, well, not compared with how I was to be a couple of years later and for the rest of my life. He decided to play this record on an old Dansette record player he had in his room, but he didn't just play it once, he played it over and over again. What was it? This organ intro that sounded like the closing music to World in Action, a man singing about bullets, then seemingly screaming for his life in agony, a guitar and organ solo, then it goes all quiet again and just repeats itself. I found it then, and still do found it scary (made worse by its inclusion over some pretty graphic images in the rather excellent feature documentary One Day in September), scary but terribly exciting. Rather like one of those horror films that plays with your mind instead of actually showing you. Coming out of that Dansette made it sound even weirder as the speaker couldn't cope with the volume and it was distorted.
I don't know why I love Child in Time like I do. How can you explain how you like any music? All I can say is thank the Lord (pun intended) that Jon Lord one day had the idea that to make his Hammond sound like a rock instrument he had to amplify it through a Marshall amp.

And here it is. Some interesting things to note here: 1) The audience don't look the slightest bit interested 2) There are schoolboys in the audience still wearing shorts. This is 1970, the year before I was born 3) Ian Gillan breaking the fourth wall with his TV camera antics 4) Ian Paice. Just Ian Paice. One of Nottingham's finest. Enjoy.

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