This incarnation of Deep Purple is perhaps the most pure and undiluted by other influences.
Younger readers may well have a significant memory based on the purchase of their first cassette, or even CD, but those of us of an older persuasion have another memory option – the strange large round disc housed in paper liner which in turn slid into a card sleeve which often contained a raft of information about the purchase. I am of course referring to the vinyl record, something which has seen somewhat of a resurgence in recent years.
At the tender age of eight I took my very first steps into owning a "proper" record. By that I mean I'd been given various child's nursery rhyme and TV favourite records to listen to, but until this point I'd never been allowed to choose my own album to buy. So, with some record tokens (remember them?) tightly grasped in my hand I ventured into the magical world of WH Smiths record department. Now, where does one start to make a choice from the diverse collection on offer? Well, although I didn't own any recordings by bands or artists, I had been listening to the radio and remembered certain names which were looking familiar on the shelves – Cream, Ozzy Osbourne, The Osmonds, and Deep Purple. Now as I flicked through the brightly coloured sleeves Osbourne looked scary, The Osmonds just didn't hold my attention and Cream's offerings didn't give me any clue as to the content. However, upon reaching the Deep Purple section, sat there in its gold coloured sleeve was '24 Carat Purple'. A closer inspection revealed that this record contained a selection of tracks from other albums the band had released. I later found out that this concept was called a compilation! A brightly coloured sleeve, a name I'd heard of, pictures of the bands albums from which tracks for this release were lifted, were pointing to this as a potential purchase. The decision was sealed when my father, who was an avid keyboard & organ fan, pointed out to me that they had a keyboard player called Jon Lord who was quite good. Decision made, tokens exchanged and the deal was in the bag quite literally.
On to the important bit – the music. 'Woman From Tokyo' kicks things off with Ian Paice smashing out a heavy rhythm and Ritchie Blackmore pumping out an echoey riff blending with Lord's swirling organ, before Ian Gillan's attention grabbing gravel-filled vocal takes it to another level. Everything is thrown into this track, Bluesy piano, soft vocal passages, and Gillan's trademark screams. What a track to start with. 'Fireball' which follows is in a similar situation, but pulls in a fast paced sixties feel replete with tambourine and a bass solo, and whilst the musicianship is brilliant the song doesn't move me.
A live version of 'Strange Kind Of Woman' slows the pace but keeps the adrenalin flowing and highlights the quality of Deep Purple as a live band. The Blackmore/Gillan sound duel shows just what masters these guys are. 'Never Before', which was released as a single, is next up but fails to shine around the other tracks contained herein. 'Black Night' ends side one and is an out and out Rocker. Blackmore's feedback driven soloing and a band at full tilt who are clearly enjoying themselves makes this truly memorable. Side two is devoted completely to live songs and come in the form of 'Speed King', the song every guitar shop hates ('Smoke On The Water') and finally 'Child In Time'. The latter being the most indulgent with its heavily extended guitar solo and Gillan, the "Prince Of Wails" on fire.
I came away having heard the album for the first time educated, happy and knowing that I was hungry to hear more from this band. Today the sound is dated but this incarnation of Deep Purple is perhaps the most pure and undiluted by other influences. It is still dear to my heart after all these years.