Backtracks: Deep Purple – Who Do We Think We Are

In 1972 Deep Purple was recognized by The Guinness Book of World Records as being the “globe’s loudest band” when a concert at the London Rainbow Theatre reached a volume of 117 dB. Three audience members were ultimately rendered unconscious.

So, in answer to the album title, “The World’s Loudest Band” for starters. And we realize that this release is probably not the first thing that comes to mind when someone mentions Deep Purple. That does not diminish it’s place in history. In fact, this was the last album before the band began to disintegrate, losing singer Ian Gillian and bassist Roger Glover in the process.

The seventh album from ‘Purple’ was released in early 1973, after recording sessions in Rome and Frankfurt, while on tour the prior year. The group was pressured by Warner Brothers/EMI to finish the record on schedule, while band members were exhausted and fighting with each other. The situation would escalate until the group disbanded in Japan, five months after this album came out.

 

From an article by Stan Cornyn, a past Warner Brothers insider: “Band members fought, didn’t speak to one another. To finish Who Do We Think We Are, band members had to be scheduled in to record individually, to avoid hassling.”

In 1973, Deep Purple had the best-selling music in the United States. Who Do We Think We Are sold half a million copies in the states in its first three months. The record earned some of the best reviews of their career. Some magazines called it their best album ever. And rightfully so. It was Top Five in the charts of six different countries, got as high as number 15 on U.S. soil, and is a Gold Album.

While researching the album we uncovered several unfavorable reviews, notably AllMusic.com and their ranking of just 2 out of a possible 5 stars. We kindly disagree.

Here’s a portion of the Rolling Stone observation regarding the album mixing and the overall consensus regarding the album:

Ritchie [Blackmore] seems conspicuously subdued here Could it possibly have something to do with the fact that bassist Roger Glover and drummer Ian Paice mixed the sound? Ah, the fragile egos of rock musicians!

Don’t waste any time looking for anything nearly as awe-inspiring here; the band seems to just barely summon up enough energy to lay down the rhythm track, much less improvise. Can metal-men have iron-poor blood?

With its start-stop rhythm and Gillan’s fine scat singing, the energetic “Rat Bat Blue” is a memorable exception. A painfully revealing display of a legendary band grinding to a halt, Who Do We Think We Are was reissued in 2000 with the added incentive of seven bonus tracks and new liner notes by bassist Roger Glover.

Voters weighing in at Ranker.com put this record at number 7 (of 24 albums) on the Best Deep Purple Albums list. As of this writing, it has 47 votes to rank it higher and 17 votes to rank it lower.

Ranking, reviews, trash-talking, who thinks what, and so on. A bunch of words about this album, that’s what we found. Some were positive but more were negative. Apparently, this release is the ‘bad seed’ of the Deep Purple discography. That’s okay with us, cause we just love the fact that we can listen to it. Rock on!

 




 

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