Friday, June 04, 2021

1970 Albums of the Week, May 28-June 3 and June 4-10: Deep Purple in Rock by Deep Purple, and Self Portrait by Bob Dylan

A couple of weeks ago, I ran a poll on whether this feature should continue. Results: Two votes for continuing it, one vote for "don't really care." I take that as a signal that it's pretty much about whether or not I enjoy doing it. And I do, kind of. So, here's another "two weeks in one" wrap-up.

May 28-June 3: Deep Purple in Rock was the band's fourth studio album. I can't speak for most music fans, but when I think of Deep Purple I think of Machine Head, their sixth album (source of their most famous tune, "Smoke on the Water"). Deep Purple in Rock was the first album to feature the "Mark II" lineup (in which bassist Nick Simper and vocalist Rod Evans were replaced by, respectively, Roger Glover and Ian Gillan) that gave us Machine Head (drummer Ian Pace is the only original member who's always been a member whenever the band was actually together, which has been since 1968, except for a period from 1976 to 1984).

Deep Purple doesn't make my list of favorite bands, really, but I can dig them at times, and this album is the start of what I consider their "classic" period. Here's "Child in Time":

June 4-10: I probably don't have to point this out, but I will anyway -- if there's a release by Bob Dylan in any given week, that release is going to be the Album of the Week. Same for the Grateful Dead, unless there's a Dylan release. It's just hard to imagine it any other way.

Even if that album is Self Portrait.

Most of the album consists of covers, losing the advantage of Dylan's skill as (still!) America's greatest living songwriter. Most of it is sung in the style of Nashville Skyline, which is my least favorite Dylan vocal style. Dylan himself called the album a joke and a way of escaping the "voice of a generation" burden. Rolling Stone critic Greil Marcus opened his review with "What is this shit?" Jimmy Guterman and Owen O'Donnell rated it the third worst rock album of all time (behind Lou Reid's Metal Machine Music and Elvis Presley's Having Fun with Elvis on Stage).

But. It's. Dylan. See the rule, above.

Here's a live take, included on Self Portrait, of "Like a Rolling Stone," recorded at the Isle of Wight on August 31,1969. Which, for some reason, I can't find on YouTube, so I'll try a Spotify embed.

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