Thursday, November 27, 2014

Deep Purple, "Hush" (1968)

Aug. 28, 1968, #4

Written by Joe ("Walk a Mile in My Shoes") South, originally for Billy Joe ("Down in the Boondocks") Royal, it's a bit of a crooked line to Deep Purple, which has incidentally made something of a career itself of crooked lines. "Hush" was an early top 40 hit for the hard rockers, and their biggest until "Smoke on the Water" matched it five years later. (For that matter, "Smoke on the Water" found its home on my favorite Deep Purple album, Machine Head, which also contains my favorite Deep Purple song, "Lazy," but that wasn't a hit.) For me "Hush" stood with "Itchycoo Park" as a kind of sinister, undertowing milestone of psychedelic music, drugs, and looming adult awareness. It seems quite serious, a transgressive menace of some kind though hard to put one's finger on why. "Hush" is not concerned nearly as much if at all with a drug experience, but attacks with an alluring and mysterious quality, opening up as it pleases for instrumental breaks. It is beautiful and ugly at once—homely ugly, not dangerous. I thought I didn't hear it nearly enough on the radio at the time, which has left me vaguely convinced it's overlooked or underrated, though it's hard to argue with a #4 (if you're inclined to accept the premise). More recently it has become popular among filmmakers, who have inserted it into Apollo 13, Children of Men, and other movies. Sure, I guess it's a little overdone in the dramatics department, with the arrogant guitar and heavy organ and the booming rattletrap drums and the freaking wolf howling in the distance in the overture. More operatic for sure than I would have expected from a de facto collaboration between Joe South and Deep Purple.

1 comment:

  1. You report a revival on soundtracks. They were a staple at my mid-70s high school dances. The Deep Purple cannot be stopped!