The Hang of Music: Dreaming Chessmen on their Boards

Hello again, children. How are you today?

Now, I’m going to read you a story. Would you like that? Well then, I’m going to read to you from “The Book of Taliesyn”.

Are you sitting comfortably? Then I shall simply ask you to heed the advice of Deep Purple…

A long long time ago, there was a band called Deep Purple, who released their first album in 1968. And then they released this a few months later.

In fact, one of the advantages of reviewing an album released in 1968, rather than in 2005, is that the wiki page has tons and tons of background on everything I could want to know about the recording, release, and reception of the album. I’m not going to reprint what I see there, though – that would be plagiarism. But, it means that I can come up with interesting facts. I hope.

Anyway, to the point in hand, “The Book” starts off fantastically with the track above. The lyrics, as you may have noticed, are in serious danger of falling into “The Walrus and the Carpenter” territory, if that could be called a danger, and I’m not sure if it’s the recording or what, but I feel peculiarly aware of the bass. Overall, though, it’s a gripping start.

Another of my highlights has to be the last track on side one, a) Exposition b) We Can Work It Out. It’s got a cool feel to the whole thing. The way the bass drops in and out in Exposition reminds me of a song, and maybe, some day, I’ll remember which one. Until then, I’ll have to console myself with the fact that it’s actually Beethoven’s Symphony Number 7 with a bit of extra jamming.

Then we get onto “We Can Work It Out”; you can tell when it starts, because that’s when, for a few seconds, you suddenly think you might be listening to “Lust for Life”, “Are You Gonna Be My Girl?” or any other Motown/Motown-inspired song. It’s got that rhythm.

And surprise surprise, it was written by Deep Purple themselves (not so obvious as you might think) in collaboration with Paul McCartney and John Lennon. It certainly has a bit of a Beatles-y, Kinks-y feel to it.

You know, it’s a sign of the times that I don’t get how many different influences this place is coming from. It used to be something sensational that The Beatles wrote their own stuff, and perfectly normal that Dylan used to write songs for his friends, or for people to straight out nick riffs. Shit, check out the same band, a few years on, nicking tunes from “It’s A Beautiful Day”.

Whereas if you were to try that today, you’d get sued the shit out of.

Take that, struggling band no-ones ever heard of!

And that’s terrible. To quote T. S. Eliot*, “immature poets imitate; mature poets steal.” Music is good, and I’m sorry to say that the musical equivalent of whole plot references are relegated to comedy songs and shitty hip-hop.**

There are actually a couple of covers on here. The last track on the album, and in my opinion one of the weakest, is one of them. Ending with a cover on albums like this, ie not covers albums, is not a good thing: I don’t think it bodes well for the strength of the album, and I’m sad to say that, because the rest of it sounded great.

The song itself is actually a cover of an Ike and Tina Turner song*** called “River Deep, Mountain High”. I want you to do a comparison of them. Here’s Ike and Tina, and here’s Deep Purple.

While I’m waiting for you to listen to those, I’m off to achievement grind on Portal 2. Oh, don’t worry, I’ll be back WAAAY before the Deep Purple version is over – it’s legitimately 4 times as long as the Ike and Tina version.

* * *

Back now. What did you think? I certainly did prefer the Deep Purple version, but that could be because I’m not a fan of much pop, like Ike provides. And Tina, of course. And it’s a bit proggier, and nicks a whole chunk of “Thus Spoke Zarathustra” from 2001: A Space Odyssey (they were both released in the same year – check 2:52 of the Deep Purple version and see for yourself).

While there are a few reasons to like the song, however, I still think it’s a bit thin for a last track. Whereas “Listen, Learn, Read On” is a perfect start to an album, “River Deep” just sounds hollow. It’s a pain they couldn’t do for the end what they did for the beginning.

Oh fine; for those of you who hoped that this would be a post about chess.



* Well, this quote has been used, abused and misattributed so often as to actually prove the quote right, in an odd way. And if I am misinterpretting that article I linked, then I feel entirely justified in doing so.

** And Folk. But folk is just one GIANT awesome circle-jerk or mutual theft, old standards and covering each other’s tunes. Thank you to the Irish Folk Mafia for keeping that one alive, and Ade Edmondson for this.

*** Yes, Deep Purple have covered a Tina Turner song. I never, ever thought that that would happen. Real life = stranger than fiction.


Posted on July 13, 2011, in Music, The Hang of Music and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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