GARY PIG GOLD GOES DEEP IN THE PURPLE CATALOGUE

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What with the recent Blackmore brew-ha-ha all over his old pals’ induction – Finally! – into that so-called Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, I was reminded to dig out three vintage CD’s from my by-far favorite, as in Mark I version of Deep Purple.

Tetragrammaton Records_I was also reminded that these initial DP LP’s were originally released in the USofA on a brand new, and in many ways quite odd little record label. A custom label, in fact, launched by none other than Bill Cosby (!) alongside his manager Roy Silver, and most righteously christened with the ineffable Hebrew name of God, Tetragrammaton. Not surprisingly then, one of its first signings (besides Mr. Cosby of course) was the great white Pat Boone thand his strangely countrified, recorded-in-a-single-day, produced-by-Zal-Yanovsky-even Departure album.

Simultaneously, on the far, far other side of the socio-musical spectrum, Tetragrammaton also somehow found itself the American distributor of none other than John and Yoko’s fully-frontal Two Virgins album. Huh! How’s THAT for diversity in establishing a talent roster for an up-and-coming new label, even by late-Sixties’ standards?

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Two Virgins? Virgins??? Oh, Pleeeze!

Nevertheless, despite the presence of one of the nation’s biggest comedians, slickest Fifties teen idols, and a naked Beatle to boot, Tetragrammaton is best remembered today as the label that launched the career of Hertfordshire, England’s very own Nick Simper, Rod Evans, Ian Paice, Jon Lord and Ritchie “If Inducted, I Shall Not Attend” Blackmore.

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Bill Cosby, Jules Malamud, and Roy Silver

Now, to say that in 1968 Messrs. Cosby and Silver had no real idea whatsoever how to handle their newly-signed band of proto-metalheads would be quite the understatement. Don’t believe a word? Consider then that rather than booking the lads into all the most hep rock halls of the day, the quintet’s inaugural tour of America centered instead around appearances on television’s Playboy After Dark (during which R. Blackmore was seen giving H. Hefner a guitar lesson….

…and The Dating Game (wherein Jon Lord came in third out of three contestants and didn’t get the girl. The Purple patriarch could still be heard complaining a quarter century later).

Jon Lord: “We also appeared on The Dating Game,” continues Lord. “There had never before been a rock band on the show. One of us had to play the game and I didn’t step back quickly enough. Deep Purple didn’t mean a great deal to the rather preppy girl. One boy was a college guy from Encino, then there was Jon, a musician from England. One question was, ‘if you came round to pick me up and my father appeared at the door and said, get your hair cut. Would you do it for me?’ I said ‘absolutely not, if he and you couldn’t like me for what I am, then I don’t belong there.’ I was pissed off I wasn’t chosen, she was very beautiful.”

Despite all of the above and more, it is a testament then to the solid quality of the young Purple’s music that they not only survived, but actually placed a trio of singles into the U.S. charts during their two-year stint with Tetragrammaton. In the process, they also produced three more-than-accomplished albums which, to my ears at least, remain the best they have ever done.

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Those albums, Shades of Deep Purple, The Book of Taliesyn, and the eponymous, Hieronymus Bosch-wrapped Deep Purple have been made available again, complete with studio out-takes and even some quaint BBC Radio bonus tracks. Included therein, of course, are the band’s initial Top Forty hits (wholly machine-headed takes on Joe South’s “Hush” and even Neil Diamond’s “Kentucky Woman”), a ten-minute-plus roll over Phil Spector’s “River Deep, Mountain High” – somehow via “Also Sprach Zarathustra” – which I bet even Ike Turner would’ve approved of, plus two Beatles and even a Donovan cover. You see, like all vintage-Sixties bands, British in particular, Purple learned early the value of a carefully crafted tune …regardless of who wrote or even claimed the publishing royalties.

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Of course this was the same band who, with a Seventies shift in personnel or two, went on to produce some of that decade’s heaviest slabs of Marshall-powered r-a-w-k (e.g.: the utterly Ramone-tempo’d “Highway Star” not to mention that riff that launched countless pyromaniacs, “Smoke On The Water”). Evidence of such delightfully moronic brilliance can indeed be heard as early as Shades‘ Jimi-fried “Mandrake Root,” and especially the first five-minutes-thirty of the Deep Purple album. Conversely though, this was a band which also indulged its tender moments as well – I’d like to see the current Current Mark Purple tackle any Donovan songs! – and even spent an inordinate amount of Book of Taliesyn concocting fits of druid bombast even Spinal Tap couldn’t, or wouldn’t touch. Jon Lord, speaking at the time to Woman’s Own magazine, attempted to explain this, um, approach by making allusions to astral association. Hmmm.

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It can perhaps be seen in retrospect that this very dichotomy between the fanciful and the Neanderthal doomed this early incarnation of the band; in fact, shortly after the release of Deep Purple in 1969 bassist Nick Simper, along with vocalist (and budding Lux Interior) Rod Evans were fired for flat-out refusing to head in heavier directions, man. At this same time Tetragrammaton itself went belly up, taking with it all Purple profits they could legally or otherwise lay their hands on. This freed Jon Lord to indulge for the moment each and every Derek Smalls fantasy imaginable on stage at the Royal Albert Hall via his Concerto for Group and Orchestra, while Ritchie Blackmore set about retooling a leaner, meaner Deep Purple for the arena-rocking decade to come.

PurpleFlipMost of you know the story from there. But for the moment, let me direct you instead back to the glory daze when our heroes were still hangin’ with the Cos at Hef’s mansion and wondering why Rosemary never took the Pill; in that halcyon period of The Flower Pot Men and Their Garden (one of Lord and Simper’s pre-Purple combos, I kid you not) and other such musical madmen who were never afraid to say and play anything and everything that crossed what remained of their minds.

Accordingly these original three albums can now be heard again, in all of their deepest, purplest, newly-digitized glory.

But, when asked if he will still be grabbing a piece of the action, Bill Cosby’s legal team’s only reply was “….hush!”

=GPG=

Gary appears here whenever he wants

Contact us at: dbawis@rogers.com.

DBAWIS_ButtonGary Pig Gold may have grown up in Port Credit, run away to Hamilton to join his first rock ‘n’ roll group, hung out with Joe Strummer on his first-ever night in the UK, returned to T.O. to publish Canada’s first-ever rock ‘n’ roll (fan)zine, run away again gary pig gpld facong leftto Surf City to (almost) tour Australia with Jan & Dean, come home again to tour O Canada with that country’s first-ever (authorized!) Beach Boys tribute band …but STILL, he had to travel all the way back to the USSR to secure his first-ever recording contract www.GaryPigGold.com

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