Here, the first lineup of Deep Purple found the footing that, interestingly enough, would be the Mk 2 lineup’s stock in trade. Even so, the approach here was still eclectic, as one can tell from the opening strains of “Chasing Shadows,” wherein Paicey proves himself one of rock’s best drummers (and to this day, still one of the most underrated) with what sounds like about 20 tracks’ worth of African percussion. My only complaint with this track is the abrupt ending, as if the engineer ran out of tape while the band were still going strong but didn’t catch it until after. “Bird Has Flown” still has some of the Hendrixian influence that was apparent on Shades of…; it reminds me a bit of Jimi’s “Stone Free” (which is not necessarily a bad thing; both tracks have a great hook that doesn’t let you go until the fadeout).
Of the bonus tracks on this expanded edition, “Emmaretta” is my favourite; this one could have been done with the Mk 2 lineup, although Ian Gillan’s vocals would lend a different dynamic to the band’s sound. “April” should take its place as one of the best examples of early progressive rock ever committed to vinyl.
For those wishing to explore Deep Purple, I recommend starting with the Mk 2 albums, most especially Machine Head, then first working backward, to get a sense of what came before, and maybe after that working forward to the Mk 3 (with David Coverdale and Glenn Hughes taking over for Gillan and Glover, respectively) and Mk 4 (Tommy Bolin replacing Ritchie Blackmore) lineups. If you’re a casual fan, probably better to just go with the 2000 compilation Very Best of Deep Purple, as it does the best capsule version of Purple’s best-known material. But with Purple Passages long since deleted, there is no better way to experience Purple Mk 1 other than diving headfirst into Shades, Taliesyn, and the eponymous 3rd LP.