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Deep Purple Albums Ranked: This is the Hard-Rock Group’s Greatest Album

Deep Purple Albums Ranked: This is the Hard-Rock Group's Greatest Album

Deep Purple has, in the book on rock history, an important, very long chapter dedicated to them. At their best, they’ve albums ranked as some of the most important releases in the world. 

But Purple is as much a political organization as they are a band. Group members have wrestled for control, and lineups have changed more frequently. 

Still, Deep Purple is a standard, one on which technically proficient hard-rock bands are judged. Ritchie Blackmore, Ian Gillan or David Coverdale have hordes of imitators. Plus, when nothing else, they crank out “Smoke On The Water.”

Today, I am getting my machete and venturing into the jungle that is Deep Purple’s discography and ranking their albums from worst to best. 

Deep Purple Albums Ranked: This is the Hard-Rock Group's Greatest Album

Deep Purple Albums Ranked

Slaves and Masters
Slaves and Masters (1990)

25. “Slaves and Masters” (1990)

“Slaves and Masters” makes the feel-good reunion of Mk. II feel as if it had run a little too long. There are few surprises or thrills to be had here.

Besides, this isn’t a full reunion anymore, either. Ian Gillan had by now split and had been replaced by Joe Lynn Turner. Blackmore and Turner had been together in a successful, albeit indistinctive, version of Rainbow through the 1980s.

In retrospect, Blackmore’s reconnection with his former Deep Purple band members had lasted longer than expected. Fans waited with bated breath for each new release, hoping one of them would recapture the glory days.

“Slaves and Masters” isn’t that record. Still, if you’re in the mood for some polished 80s guitar rock, it’s not a terrible experience either. “King of Dreams” and “Love Conquers All” are Ok attempts at radio singles.

nobody's perfect deep purple
Nobody’s Perfect (1988)

24. “Nobody’s Perfect” (1989)

The first two reunion albums showed what Deep Purple’s status as a 1980s rock band was going to be. On “Nobody’s Perfect” they ease into their role.

This is a live album that allows the band to play its hits interspersed with some newer tracks.

The results are overall pleasant. “Hush” or “Strange Kind of Woman” still sound great. The newer tracks, however, work against the band’s legacy.

"Abandon" (1998)
“Abandon” (1998)

23. “Abandon” (1998)

Fans of Deep Purple would never again be thrilled by a new album release, but they wouldn’t be embarrassed either. “Abandon” shows this.

For the most part, the band moves band to their roots. There’s plenty of prog-laced hard-rock here. “Any Fule Kno That” is a highlight.

But the deal seems to be that they won’t rock as hard provided that fans don’t ask too much. It’s a sweet arrangement.

"Bananas" (2003)
“Bananas” (2003)

22. “Bananas” (2003)

“Bananas” was a surprise, not only because Deep Purple was still putting out new music, but because it’s a strong release.

With Blackmore and Lord gone, the band moves toward the prog-rock sound that characterized their early work. Deep Purple’s “Bananas” is ambitious and, for once, loaded up with good, collective vibes.

It works better here than it should on paper. “I Got Your Number” and “Picture of Innocence” are good tracks, but the real highlight is the band’s mature, competent playing.

"Purpendicular" (1996)
“Purpendicular” (1996)

21. “Purpendicular” (1996)

“Perpendicular” allows Deep Purple to slide into a dignified later chapter of their career. This time, they prioritize conservative musicianship over flash.

In Steve Morse, formerly of Dixie Dregs, the band had finally found a replacement for Blackmore. Unlike Bolin or Satriani before him, Morse isn’t tasked with copying the famous fret master.

“Sometimes I Feel Like Screaming” is a fine song, and “Perpendicular” allows Purple to expand the band’s lifespan.

"The House of Blue Light" (1987)
“The House of Blue Light” (1987)

20. “The House of Blue Light” (1987)

“The House of Blue Light” is the second reunion record from Deep Purple Mk. II. It features slicker production and, overall, better songs.

The tunes are likely, the result of Blackmore’s competitiveness with his other band, Rainbow, a surprisingly successful group during the 1980s.

Those expecting prog-influenced, exciting hard-rock record may be a tad surprised not to find this here.

“Bad Attitude” and “Unwritten Law” are fine tunes. But they won’t get any kids to start learning to play guitar.

"Rapture of the Deep" (2005)
“Rapture of the Deep” (2005)

19. “Rapture of the Deep” (2005)

“Bananas” had finally made Deep Purple fans accept the albums that the band released at this later juncture in their career. “Rapture of the Deep” continues to build on that formula.

Of course, “Rapture of the Deep” requires a good deal of patience. There are no Blackmore flashy solos, none of Lord’s keyboard symphonies and few of Gillan’s screams (although “Money Talks” is an exception).

However, Steve Morse’s playing is technical yet tasteful. These qualities can be applied to all Deep Purple songs here.

“Shades of Deep Purple” (1968)
“Shades of Deep Purple” (1968)

18. “Shades of Deep Purple” (1968)

Like many kids starting a rock band, the folks in Deep Purple could already play well but had no idea what songs they were going to write. They settled on rocking highway songs and achieved more success than they imagined. 

In fact, guitarist Ritchie Blackmore and organist John Lord were already accomplished musicians, hinting at the virtuosic ability for which they’d later be known. 

“Shades of Deep Purple” has Rod Evans and Nick Simper filling out what the band calls the “Mk. I line-up”. 

“Hush” was an unexpected hit with its hard-chugging blues-rock riffs. “Mandrake Root” shows that Blackmore was more than willing to play the guitar hero game with the likes of Jimi Hendrix. These are tracks written for the jukeboxes across America.

"Turning to Crime" (2021)
“Turning to Crime” (2021)

17. “Turning to Crime” (2021)

While it was starting to become difficult to keep track of all new Deep Purple projects, the veteran musicians make fans glad they do on the covers album “Turning to Crime.”

Deep Purple has always been fun in a theatrical, hard-rock kind of way. But on “Turning to Crime”, they show that their musical taste extends to 1960s luminaries like Bob Dylan, Arthur Lee of Love and Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac.

Deep Purple Albums Ranked: This is the Hard-Rock Group's Greatest Album

Those are all fine achievements. But this brings us to an important question.

Is Deep Purple in the Rock Hall of Fame?

Deep Purple was finally inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2016. This followed years of speculation and criticism for the legendary band’s late induction. Blame it on a lack of votes or a bizarre oversight. Furthermore, only Blackmore, Lord, Paice, Gillan, Glover, Coverdale, Evans, and Hughes were inducted. Ritchie Blackmore was not present for the ceremony.

"The Book of Taliesyn"  (1968)
“The Book of Taliesyn” (1968)

16. “The Book of Taliesyn” (1968)

Before heavy metal, several bands were operating within a psychedelic, powerfully sounding format. “The Book of Taliesyn” makes a case for Deep Purple being one of the best.

It was at this time that the British quintet earned many comparisons to Vanilla Fudge. Their U.S. counterparts would have less staying power, however.

While “The Book of Taliesyn” is interesting and Purple is, no doubt, a competent band, their direction isn’t yet clear.

Their cover of Neil Diamond’s “Kentucky Woman” aims to please the juke-joint loyal that had supported “Hush.” And their rendition of “River Deep, Mountain High” reveals the band’s increased interest in progressive music.

"Whoosh!" (2020)
“Whoosh!” (2020)

15. “Whoosh!” (2020)

Deep Purple and Bob Ezrin make the best of their collaboration together, delivering another fine collection of classic-rock.

With confidence riding high, Purple are even more comfortable about allowing their tendency for more complex arrangement to come to the fore.

And while Morse and Airey make a big impression, Ezrin helps keep the songs tight and focused on hooks, for the most part.

“No Need To Shout” and “Step by Step” are fine songs.

"InFinite" (2017)
“InFinite” (2017)

14. “InFinite” (2017)

On “InFinite,” Deep Purple build on the ideas that had worked so surprisingly well on “Now What?!” with only slightly diminished results.

Bob Ezrin is back in the producer’s seat. Ezrin had managed the feat of truly revitalizing Purple’s sound.

“InFinite” attempts to capture the same results again. More shades of prog-rock and psychedelia are added. The song collection is relatively less intriguing this time around.

However, “The Surprizing” and “Time for Bedlamm” are highlights.

"Deep Purple" (1969)
“Deep Purple” (1969)

13. “Deep Purple” (1969)

Had Deep Purple broken up before 1972, they likely are remembered as a challenging prog-rock band. The 1969 release, “Deep Purple” is the greatest indication of their level of initiative.

Here, Ritchie Blackmore and Jon Lord take the reins. In an era that dared to ask what pop music could be, the dup set about creating a hybrid of hard-rock and classical.

The 12-minute suite, Deep Purple’s “April” is intriguing, perhaps one of the best Deep Purple songs of their earliest period. “Lalena” and “Bird Has Flown” are just as fascinating. No list of great, early, proggy Deep Purple would be complete without it.

Best of all, this is an enjoyable listen. The group hadn’t yet reached the bombast that would characterize their 1970s sound. Deep Purple’s “April,” in particular, has becoming something of a cult classic. Their self-titled album captures a group finally making sense of how to utilize their considerable abilities best.

 "Now What?!" (2013)
“Now What?!” (2013)

12. “Now What?!” (2013)

“Now What?!” was produced by the legendary Bob Ezrin, and Deep Purple achieved the vintage 1970s sound that they were seeking.

The years spent in between recording a new album have also helped the band accumulate a number of stronger songs. “Weidistan,” “Vincent Price,” and “A Simple Song,” are highlights.

These allow the band to create a sound resembling what one might have heard on FM radio stations back in U.S. in the 1970s.

"Come Taste the Band" (1975)
“Come Taste the Band” (1975)

11. “Come Taste the Band” (1975)

“Come Taste the Band” is a surprisingly strong release, especially considering the monumental task of having to replace Ritchie Blackmore.

The man taking on the unenviable task, however, is Tommy Bolin, a hotshot with plenty of studio time and experience with replacing famous guitarists. He’d done so before. Bolin had replaced Joe Walsh in the James Gang when the former joined Eagles.

Bolin is an excellently proficient guitar player. And even though he doesn’t grasp the Deep Purple formula as well as his predecessor, he brings plenty of excitement and energy, things on which the band thrived.

“Lady Luck” or “Dealer” are strong, albeit predictable efforts.

However, the slow build “You Keep On Moving,” featuring the vocal harmonies of Coverdale and Hughes, is an absolute treasure.

Deep Purple band members would continue to be shuffled and changed often. But, arguably never, would the general public care quite as much.

"Come Taste the Band" (1975)
“Come Taste the Band” (1975)

10. “The Battle Rages On…” (1993)

Once the lights on the Deep Purple logo came back on in the 1980s, they were never turned off. “The Battle Rages On…” is one more attempt at a reunion of the band’s most famous line-up and, surprisingly, one of the band’s finest latter-day Deep Purple albums.

Some of the radio gloss of “Slaves and Masters” is ditched, making “The Battle Rages On…” a slightly more energy-driven affair.

Despite the fact that the songs had been written for Joe Lynn Turner to sing, Gillan does a good job.

The pent-up resentment between Blackmore and Gillan may have given some songs, like the title track and “A Twist in the Tale”, a bit more power.

Blackmore would again grow tired of Gillan and the band, this time for good. He’d walk away midtour only to be replaced by Joe Satriani.

By this time, however, only the most dedicated of fans were following the latest band drama.

"Perfect Strangers" (1984)
“Perfect Strangers” (1984)

9. “Perfect Strangers” (1984)

“Perfect Strangers” is the inevitable comeback record of Deep Purple Mk. II. Fans will be happy with the outcome, even though some inventiveness and mystique are gone.

Deep Purple had stopped in the mid-1970s following internal squabbles, drug issues and a particularly brutal touring experience.

But the band members had made Deep Purple-type music elsewhere. Blackmore had taken Rainbow to the top of the charts alongside Ronnie James Dio. The Ian Gillan Band had become a serious hard-rock proposition. And his replacement, David Coverdale, had built a home with Whitesnake.

The song “Perfect Strangers” seems to encapsulate the uneasiness surrounding the band members’ reunion. “Knocking at Your Back Door” and “Nobody’s Home” work well.

But the record feels mostly like an excuse to re-release a successful brand. Richie Blackmore gets top-billing, sure. But the guitar virtuoso isn’t completely sold on the idea.

Predictably the reunion wouldn’t last for long. But it would set Deep Purple on the trajectory that they are today. Gillan would eventually be the winner of the power games fought against Blackmore. But there would be more back and forth before that could happen.

"Concerto for Group and Orchestra" (1969)
“Concerto for Group and Orchestra” (1969)

8. “Concerto for Group and Orchestra” (1969)

“Concerto for Group and Orchestra” is not just an album; it’s a declaration of war against all fellow prog-rock bands. Working with an orchestra may have been a novelty, but the result is generally very satisfying.

Keyboardist Jon Lord directs this legendary project. He composes and arranges the third movements that take up three-fifths of the record. The band isn’t merely scratching an itch, either. At this stage, rock/orchestra hybrids were still very much cutting-edge.

The other two are orchestral workings of “Wring That Neck” and “Child In Time.” Blackmore adds tremendous guitar playing throughout both.

The record is also the first to feature bassist Roger Glover and new singer Ian Gillan. For the latter, this, along with “Deep Purple in Rock,” would prove to be prep work for his part in “Jesus Christ Superstar.”

How many octaves can Ian Gillan sing?

Ian Gillan’s vocal range is a very impressive 4 octaves and 2 semitones. His higher range has been featured often and seemingly effortlessly, especially during the 1970s.

The album is certainly boundary-pushing. It’s a hint at what the “Mk. II line-up” would be able to achieve. And, it’s one of the definitive moments when rock n’ roll stopped to mean merely Chuck Berry guitar riffs.

"Stormbringer" (1974)
“Stormbringer” (1974)
Deep Purple Albums Ranked: This is the Hard-Rock Group's Greatest Album

7. “Stormbringer” (1974)

If the barbaric energy of “Burn” was undeniable, “Stormbringer” straddles self-parody a little too closely. However, the band can still be depended upon to play dazzlingly at times.

The self-titled track tries to match “Burn” hard-rocking dramatist but feels rehashed. “High Ball Shooter” has plenty of zest, but it isn’t surprising.

Meanwhile, “Soldier of Fortune” adds another signature power ballad to Purple’s catalogue.

“Stormbringer” would prove the end of an era. The previous album by Deep Purple, “Burn,” had seemed like the start of the year. One year after ousting Ian Gillan from the band, Blackmore also went on to form Rainbow, and Deep Purple’s collective energy would soon run out as well.

"Who Do We Think We Are" (1973)
“Who Do We Think We Are” (1973)

6. “Who Do We Think We Are” (1973)

Great success is often the kiss of death for rock bands. “Who Do We Think We Are” is the album on which Mk. II Deep Purple finally run out of ideas and steam.

Still, one can’t exactly blame them. The band had been on an extraordinary run of records. Besides, they’d toured the world relentlessly.

They were also musical inventors. Their progressive rock hard-rock sounds had many disciples. Therefore, Purple take up doing their own version on “Who Do We Think We Are.”

There’s good playing here, sure. You’d expect there to be! But the songs aren’t much to write home about. To be fair, that’s not why it’s so high on my list.

“Woman of Tokyo” is the one highlight. It’s the one tune rescued for commemorative greatest hits compilations. And while the track hides away the band’s usual prog-rock tendencies, it’s one of the best Deep Purple songs.

This would also be the final album with Ian Gillan and Roger Glover, for a while, at least. One can tell that “Who Do We Think We Are” is not the sound of collaborative effort.

"Burn" (1974)
“Burn” (1974)

5. “Burn” (1974)

“Burn” achieves a nearly impossible task by reinventing Deep Purple’s sound with the help of two relative unknowns.

In many ways, the success is a testament to the strong foundation that Blackmore, Lord and terrifically underrated drummer Ian Paice had created.

But luck played a part too. David Coverdale and Glenn Hughes answered the ads for a new singer and drummer. The latter adds his high-pitch vocals on many of the tracks.

The title track features one of Blackmore’s most immediate guitar riffs and good interplay between Coverdale and Hughes, who are often duelling for attention.

The bluesy “Mistreated” makes good use of Coverdale’s, soon to become, barrelling baritone vocals a la Paul Rodgers.

The new recruits give “Burn” much-needed energy. It’s a surprising success and the best album that the band recorded during this era. It launched a couple of careers, at least prolonged Purple’s by a few decades, and that’s why it is nearly at the top of our list.

For fans of Deep Purple, “Burn” remains an underrated classic. The title track, especially, has proven to have a long shelf life. In recent years alone, it’s been covered by Hughes and/or Coverdale.

"Made in Japan" (1972)
“Made in Japan” (1972)

4. “Made in Japan” (1972)

Deep Purple always shone best on stage. I am cheating and adding “Made in Japan” (and mentioning “Made in Europe”) because they showcase the band’s strengths. They show that as a 70s hard-rock group, few could rival Deep Purple when they’re in full swing.

Of the two, “Made in Japan” is the more famous. It’s the band’s second most successful record. It contains the band’s best lineup, performing their best-known songs in front of an enthusiastic audience.

The live album “Made in Europe” is a needed tribute of the so-called Mk. IV line-up. Newer recruits, Coverdale and Hughes, are confident in their ability.

And the band hits their stride on the tracks “Burn” and “Mistreated.” But the record is also a bore in places, with only five Deep Purple songs making up the entire running length of the record.

Unlike other legendary bands of the Album-Oriented era, Purple is best enjoyed as a live unit, something which holds true today.

"Fireball" (1971)
“Fireball” (1971)

3. “Fireball” (1971)

Deep Purple found their stride once they had managed to merge the excitement of their live shows with the ambitiousness of their prog-rock compositions. “Fireball” carries on with that formula.

Like “In Rock,” “Fireball” is a hard-rock classic. And, like it, the album features a notoriously hideous artwork, a trademark of the band’s releases from here onward.

The title track is the most manic sound that the band put on a studio album. “Anyone’s Daughter” proves that the band has a sense of humour after all. And the excellent “Strange Kind of Woman” is sparse and hard-hitting.

"Machine Head" (1972)
“Machine Head” (1972)

2. “Machine Head” (1972)

Popular wisdom seems to dictate that “Machine Head” finds Deep Purple at its finest. In many ways, this is correct. The album is a culmination of their imagined hard-rock and prog hybrid.

Blackmore and Lord were two of the best musicians in rock music. They knew it. And, often, they overplayed. “Machine Head,” however, finds them finding the sweet spot.

Of course, this is also the album that contains “Smoke on the Water”, one of last century’s most present rock anthems. Its riff is still the first thing that beginner guitarists learn. And the tale of the burning Swiss casino continues to be played on classic rock radio.

Meanwhile, “Space Truckin'” and “Highway Star” allow Purple to flex their muscles and translate the energy of their live performances to studio performances.

The folks in Deep Purple were never philosophers. What they did have was a knack fo combining excellent musicianship for exciting radio singles. On “Machine Head” they more than achieve their goal.

What is the best-selling Deep Purple album?

“Machine Head” is Deep Purple’s best-selling album and a bonafide classic. It has sold 2.8 million copies. It is followed, somewhat surprisingly, by the live disc “Made in Japan” and by the reunion record “Perfect Strangers.”

"Deep Purple in Rock" (1970)
“Deep Purple in Rock” (1970)

1. “Deep Purple in Rock” (1970)

“Deep Purple in Rock” is one of the definitive hard-rock albums of the 1970s. It allowed the band to push the band’s sound to its logical extreme. And it helped the group compete with ear-splitting rivals Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath.

If “Concerto” had been the brainchild of Lord, “In Rock” allows Blackmore to dictate the creative tempo.

For the most part, the guitarist pushes for direct, riff-driven compositions that are optimized by the group member’s individual playing skills. It’s the best Deep Purple album

“Speed King” manages to bring the intensity of Purple’s live shows onto the band’s studio recordings. “Child In Time” is a power-ballad staple, complete with marvellous dynamics and the use of Ian Gillan’s trademark tenor vocals.

“Flight of the Rat” and “Bloodsucker” balance grit with intellect, two qualities that Purple, at their best, could balance well.

“Deep Purple in Rock” made the quintet global stars and, along with Zeppelin and Sabbath, leaders of a musical trend dominating the charts – hard rock/heavy metal. Few would care to argue against this being the best Deep Purple album.

Deep Purple Albums Ranked: This is the Hard-Rock Group's Greatest Album

My story with Deep Purple’s music

Deep Purple has had, ever since I can recall, exuded an almost mystical aura. Much of this is due to the way that older music fans and dedicated record collectors have treated the band. For them, Deep Purple was the epitome of sophisticated rock n’ roll.

But my conversion came slowly. Initially, I had a hard time coming to terms with the band’s love of showing off and their desire to play at mind-numbing levels even as far back as the 1960s. “Some on the Water” was fine, but for classic hard-rock, Led Zeppelin and Led Zeppelin were just enough for me.

The first change occurred for me once I heard a compilation of their 1960s material. This did not include any of the hits, with the exception of “Hush.” It was wildly imaginative, and the penny finally dropped – Deep Purple was a band of musos trying to come to terms with changing trends. That endeared them to me.

Later, I did my best to learn Richie Blackmore’s riffs and solos. This pursuit did not magically turn me into Yngwie Malmsteen. I didn’t even buy a Fender Stratocaster. The latter, however, was motivated more by monetary restrictions.

Deep Purple was not created for easy listening sessions. They work best when balancing volume with musical complexity. But some of their songs and records can fool you. “Smoke on the Water” gets learned by everyday beginner guitarists, and for good reason. “Demon’s Eye” or “Fireball” are quick-firing heavy-metal tracks.

My favourite songs by the band are “Child in Time,” “Pictures of Home,” and “Anyone’s Daughter.” They are different from one another as night is to day. But that’s just how Deep Purple’s music works.

About author

Eduard Banulescu is a writer, blogger, and musician. As a content writer, Eduard has contributed to numerous websites and publications, including FootballCoin, Play2Earn, BeIN Crypto, Business2Community, NapoliSerieA, Extra Time Talk, Nitrogen Sports, Bavarian FootballWorks, etc. He has written a book about Nirvana, hosts a music podcasts, and writes weekly content about some of the best, new and old, alternative musicians. Eduard also runs and acts as editor-in-chief of the alternative rock music website www.alt77.com. Mr. Banulescu is also a musician, having played and recorded in various bands and as a solo artist.
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