Deep Purple have become legends of British heavy metal without ever being a heavy metal band. In their heyday in the mid-’70s, they were labelled progressive, while today their guitar-orientated (not guitar-dominated) style is positively lightweight when compared with the granite hard grunge of Iron Maiden or Metallica. Indeed, the heavy metal tag-which Purple seem to have picked up because no other label will happily stick to them – belies the poppy, folksy, bluesy moments which pepper their career.
Those less intense, more smile-inducing songs are not among the classic moments of the band’s output (Anyone’s Daughter will never replace Smoke On The Water in the fans’ imagination) but they are a larger part of Purple’s total repertoire than is often realised. That fact has not, though, been lost on the compilers of Anthology, which covers Purple’s, er, purple period from 1968 to 1975.
It logically begins with the earliest Purple incarnation – with Rod Evans (later to trawl a fake Purple around America) on vocals and Nick Simper on bass – and tracks like Hush and Mandrake Root effortlessly illustrate that in 1968 Purple weren’t much heavier than hard pop. T
hey took a turn for the more metallic with the recruitment of Ian Gillan and Roger Glover as replacements for Evans and Simper respectively, but even this venerated Deep Purple Mark, II had its lighter moments: No One Came, along with the more suave end of the band’s spectrum, Woman From Tokyo and Smooth Dancer. However, this incarnation of Deep Purple will always be best remembered for the songs effectively canonised by rock’s broad church:Black Night, Child In Time, Highway Star and, naturally, Smoke On The Water.
After Purple’s full-blown hard rock phase, Anthology moves on to the blues-influenced period of Burn and Stormbringer with David Coverdale on vocals and Glenn Hughes on bass. From those albums are taken the sophisticated Sail Away and Lay Down Stay Down as well as a rapid, rampant live version of Burn, though not the one from Made In Europe which does provide Mistreated.
Anthology concludes with three tracks from Come Taste The Band, the album recorded with Tommy Bolin on guitar after Ritchie Blackmore had walked out in disgust at the funky direction in which Deep Purple’s music was heading. The period is not a fans’ favourite, though the late Tommy Bolin is remembered with much affection.
Deep Purple collectors should note that Anthology has a wholly different track listing from the album of the same title released by the same company – EMI – in 1985.