Smoke On The Water: The Deep Purple Story
by Dave Thompson (ECW Press)
by Martin Popoff
The triumph of this book is that it makes the very tangled story of this band highly readable, if a bit academic, all within 321 pages. What’s more, Thompson, the king of rock book writing with something like 80 books to his name, manages to more than mention all of the important side work the guys have gotten up to, including Rainbow, Whitesnake, and refreshingly, modern stuff like Hughes and Turner solo and Blackmore’s Moon. Not crazy about the format of the (too) extensive family tree discography at the back, but I’m glad for the info. The actual records are given short shrift, presumably to keep the tale of the people flowing, but what insights Thompson does offer are fairly deep, connective, and critically bang-on. But again, like a good tour manager or director, Thompson efficiently shuffles the characters in then out then, if need be, in again, giving a sense of cohesion to the thing, leaving the reader with the impression that Deep Purple is a thriving beehive, a little loud industry on its own. And, of course, this idea is borne out by the band’s music as well, the catalogue including so many refreshing, creative twists and turns and productions and personalities that you just gotta shake yer head, dive in and learn it all. Verdict: A good book and the best book out there now, but surprisingly, after 35 odd years, the definitive has yet to be written.