Monday, August 4, 2014
Track of the Week: Deep Purple "Hush"
This week I rewatched two of my favorite movies and found an unexpected bit of overlap. The first was the classic mock rock doc This Is Spinal Tap, the second the greatest soccer movie ever made, The Damned United. In the latter there is a great montage that shows manager (and main character) Brian Clough's underdog Derby County team crushing their opposition and moving up the tables. It was scored to "Hush" by Deep Purple, just the kind of British hard rock band that Spinal Tap was parodying. The killer montage works because of the music, which got me to listen to "Hush" again and realize, to my surprise, how much I love the song.
Like Tap, Deep Purple had been one of "England's loudest bands" in the 1970s, and underwent many lineup changes. Along with Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin, they were one of the antecedents of heavy metal, and "Smoke on the Water" launched a thousand imitators. However, I never rated them much, finding them much inferior to Sabb and Zepp. Their music always sounded plodding and Tap-esque when it came to songs with titles like "Space Truckin'."
"Hush," which came out in 1968, is a different matter. Instead of plodding it rushes along to a torrid beat backed up by an absolutely amazing organ accompaniment by Jon Lord and a catchy "na-na-na-na-na-na" hook. The guitar riff doesn't hammer away like in future Deep Purple songs, it drives irresistibly forward, and for that reason is a great song to listen to when driving on the open road. Again though, Jon Lord makes this song. I have an unnatural love of the organ, perhaps due to all those Sundays spent singing hymns growing up, and hearing the epic solos on this track just pushes all of my happy buttons. Unlike later prog-rock organists a la Rick Emerson, Lord tones down the wanking and makes his virtuosity serve the song. Too bad more bands didn't follow that rule in the aftermath of the late 60s. Then again, we wouldn't have had Spinal Tap if not for the overblown silliness of so much prog and hard rock in the decade that followed "Hush."