Picture a gawky 15-year-old in a small town in
south India in the early Seventies. Books and radio stations keep
her company. No TV, no playmates, a movie once a year if she's
lucky. There's a record player, though, and a small stack of pop
albums that her father plays for her in the evenings on request.
Her older brother in Bangalore comes home on
vacation with a well-used LP borrowed from a hostelmate. It's Deep
Unnaturally long hair envelops five faces that all look in the same
direction. There's a halo around them as they shoot across the black
backdrop of the album cover, hair streaming backwards like a comet's
tail. The volume on the music system is turned way up and the girl
hears, for the first time, the sound of hard rock.
out as an underground band. Our music was not played on radio
stations." -- Roger Glover (in Bangalore).
It's nothing like the pop and rock she's heard on
her favourite radio stations. It sends her heart hammering and binds
her eyes shut. She can't dance, doesn't know how, never has, and so
the music judders inside her confined body, producing tight little
jerking motions of head and toes. Drums like machinegun fire, a bass
thudding out a rhythm, a lead guitar scattering wayward notes. She's
never heard the organ played like this before -- dancing metallic
shafts of sound. The voice of the lead singer has her in thrall. To
her teenage imagination it sounds like Man personified: deep,
powerful, now a silken roar, now a sustained, primitive scream. She
whispers to herself: "Sexy."
All through her brother's holiday she listens to
the Fireball LP until
every note of every song is punched into her brain. The lyrics are
inaudible and only a few phrases emerge unscathed from the
maelstrom. When Jon Lord plays that long and sombre passage in Fools, she imagines a camera
panning a battlefield strewn with dead and wounded soldiers. In The Mule, Paice's drums
culminate in an unbelieveable, shattering barrage created not by two
sticks, surely, but a hundred held in each hand. She memorises the
names of the band members although she is not sure how to pronounce
them all: does Ian begins with the sound of an E or an I, does
Gillan have a soft G and Paice sound like pice?
roll -- that was our rebellion against our parents." -- Roger
Rock 'n' roll, the Beatles, Simon &
Garfunkel, Slade, Grand Funk Railroad -- they must all take the back
seat while Deep Purple charges forth, guns a-blazing. Why do they
always leave her breathless, and filled with strange longings? She
responds to Paul Simon's poetry with her head and her heart, but
Purple touches her body.
Perhaps that was the beginning of her journey
down the road not taken, with Dylan snarling insidiously into her
ear. The girl shot across the bleak backdrop of her existence,
breaking free in another city, another life. Then she found ways to
reconnect with her own culture, ways to not feel so solitary.
In the late Eighties, she was in a classic record
store in Greenwich Village when she spied a copy of -- Fireball! She carefully
checked it for scratches. It passed inspection. A slice of her past
was hers for a few dollars, nestling in a brown-paper bag, waiting
to be re-heard when she got back home to India. Of course it didn't
have the same effect on her. But its sheer brute energy was
inescapable, and reminded her of the energy she had spent in
ugly world out there." -- Steve Morse
By now she had seen the world in all its ugliness
and beauty. Made her peace with it. Found her place in it. But she
didn't fully understand it, and that saved her from getting
complacent. Fortunately she found others like her who didn't run
with the rats or hunt with the hawks. Who found happiness in doing
what they liked whether it brought them money or not, and not in
doing what brought them money whether it made them happy or not.
"We're just five guys with feet of clay." --
Last week you could have seen a
43-year-old-turned-16, clutching the jacket of Fireball as she waited to
meet its makers. To her, they were not quite Deep Purple, for one of
the faces on the album cover had shot right out of the frame. It was
hard for her not to think of Steve Morse as an interloper. Her
prejudice would dissolve only when his guitar spoke to her during
that evening's concert.
Jon Lord's snow-white beard and ponytail was the
starkest reminder of time passed by. The features of their youth
stood out despite their ageing faces.
They had grown old, and so had I.
What they spoke of rang a bell in me -- their
refusal to compromise or to kowtow to commerce, their commitment to
doing what they liked, their efforts to avoid getting jaded.
to be famous, just try to be good." -- Ian Paice
If anything proved that Purple was a trailblazer
that hadn't lost its lustre, the Bangalore concert did. Standards
that they must have played in scores of concerts over the last 30
years sounded as fresh as ever. They didn't play by the book: they
constantly improvised, or added on new bits. The sound that emerged
was hard, tight, clean.
The muted strains of Fools filled the air.
Gillan's calm before the storm. A pause before the roar and the
I closed my eyes. This time, I didn't just twitch
my head and toes as I had done nearly 30 years ago. I
Write to the
Write to the editor
Want updates on The Music Magazine's latest
stories? Send us your e-mail ID, details of genres you are
interested in, and any other information you
think is relevant. We plan to alert you to new stuff
on your favourite magazine
Top | Home
Press Ctrl D to bookmark The Music
*For fans of Indian music, there is
no better resource on the Web --
*Well researched -- India
*Fantastic site -- Hitbox
*Web's best --
*Superb coverage... worth tuning in to --
*Classy -- Deccan Herald