Top 10 Deep Purple Songs

When it comes to the British holy trinity of hard rock (Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin being the other two), Deep Purple may well be the lightest shade in terms of acclaim and recognition.

The band have gone through a string of line-ups throughout their coloured and somewhat chequered history, but their pioneering crossover between classical music and hard rock has afforded them a sound and legacy that very few bands could ever even dream of replicating.

Blues Rock Review takes a journey back through (child in) time to give you our top 10 Deep Purple Songs.

10. “Mistreated”

Before his descent into hair-metal and overindulgence in the lyrical realm of sexual innuendos and double entendres, David Coverdale could more than deliver a dark, brooding blues-rock vocal.

The masterful control on this sublime bluesy number will set your goosebumps off as Saltburn-by-the-Sea’s most famous son whines beautifully in seven and a half minutes of anguish, heartbreak and torment.

“Mistreated” builds to a spectacular crescendo with guitarist Richie Blackmore crowning a song that he had written a number of years prior to the Burn album by shrewdly accelerating through this slow burner into a dizzying solo.

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9. “Space Truckin’”

With references to “the Borealice”, “Pony Trekker” and “the Canaveral moonstop”, strap yourself in for a wild voyage through space. Everything about this trippy, intergalactic closer to their iconic album Machine Head screeches great fun, but there’s no denying the calibre of the musicianship.

From the consummate backbeat to the wonderfully punchy and hard-hitting distorted organ that drives the song forward, you will find it hard to resist the commands of the trademark Ian Gillan banshee screams (“Come on, come on, come on, Let’s go Space Truckin”).

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8. “Perfect Strangers”

After washing away with the Deep Purple palette in 1975, the MK 11 line-up reunited nine years later for comeback album Perfect Strangers. Lyrically pertinent (“I am returning the echo of a point in time/Distant faces shine”), it symbolises a clutch of ‘familiar outsiders’ that has snubbed the chance to paper over the cracks and instead are learning to move forward with a new-found sense of maturity.

One of the few Deep Purple compositions not to feature a guitar solo, it has some wonderful oriental-style phrasing and a gladiatorial break in the middle which adds further grandeur.

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7. “Burn”

The third reiteration of the group spawned the albums Stormbringer and Burn in the mid-1970s. Often overlooked due to the magnificence of the band’s revered classic MK II line-up, it is the dynamic and energetic title track from Burn that overheats from a scorching Blackmore riff and blistering drum attack from Ian Paice with interspersing barrages of snare fills during the verses.

Featuring a then-unknown Coverdale on vocals and the evergreen Glenn Hughes on bass, this flame would prove to be the new incarnation’s high point.

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6. “Fireball”

Fireball was the follow-up to Purple’s breakthrough In Rock record. Even though it didn’t quite reach the heights of its predecessor, the breakneck rhythm, frenzied singing and renowned double-kick beat that introduce this ball of energy are irresistible.

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5. “Speed King”

Purple exploded out of the starting block on their In Rock album with “Speed King”. After an ear-splitting introduction of ferocious shredding guitar and Jon Lord’s injection of neoclassical organ chords, there is no let-up by any of the band as they appear to be possessed by Usain Bolt in over four breathless minutes of barnstorming power and borrowed snippets of old lyrics from rock ‘n’ roll hits (“Good Golly Miss Molly”).

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4. “Pictures Of Home”

Arguably the most underrated song from the band’s masterpiece Machine Head, “Pictures Of Home” showcases every member of the band at their creative peak with its sweeping lead vocals and wonderful improvisation in the instrumental sections.

Blackmore breaks from the hard rock tradition with some bluesy flourishes, while Lord’s aristocratic prowess bring a smattering of prog to the Purple residence. There’s even room for a surprise bass solo from Roger Glover in this poignant portrait of studio paranoia and home nausea.

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3. “Smoke On The Water”

Da da DAH, da da DA-DAA, da da DAH, DAH DAAAAA. The mother of all riffs. Iconic, but the very definition of overplayed (rumour has it that it is even forbidden from being played in guitar stores).

Inspired by the casino in the lakeside town of Montreux going up in smoke and skimming the waters that surrounded it, “Smoke On The Water” remains Purple’s most recognisable song with four two-note chords that still inspire every burgeoning rocker to pick up a guitar.

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2. “Child In Time”

Iain Gillan, take a bow. Simply one of the greatest vocal performances in rock history. From his juddering wailing early doors to the numbing screams of pain during the finale, this rhapsodic centrepiece from the In Rock album is a psychedelic tour de force of mesmeric hard rock, prog, and neo-classic runs rolled into something quite astonishing.

Virtuoso Lord spearheads the operatic atmosphere of this epic as the listener is taken to the brink of exhaustion on a journey of dramatic peaks and troughs. A real fan favourite, “Child In Time” became a staple of their concert repertoire in 1970-73 and later after their initial reunion tours of 1985 and 1987-88. The song has been a rarity at live shows since 1995 and remains one of the final tracks where Blackmore used his Gibson ES-335 before moving over to the fleet-fingered fury of a Fender Stratocaster.’

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1. “Highway Star”

Start your engine and prepare for life in the fast lane. “Highway Star” is the definitive driving song as Gillan goes full force about a man and his infatuation with his supersonic car (or is it a girl he’s referring to?)

The mesmeric soloing tussle (based on Bach-like chord sequences) between Lord and Blackmore is alone enough to power a battered 1970 Fiat 500 above the legal speed limit. This is Purple at their pulsating best, showcasing their distinctive blend of high-octane playing with neoclassical grace.

Widely regarded as one of the first speed rock/metal songs ever written, the lead-off track from the band’s landmark Machine Head shows no signs of slowing down in adrenaline or influence nearly half a century on.

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32 thoughts on “Top 10 Deep Purple Songs

  • September 9, 2021 at 10:53 am
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    ‘”Child In Time” has become a staple in their concert repertoire no matter what the line-up’. Blatantly not true, Mk’s 3 and 4 & 5 never played it. In fact only Ian Gillan fronted line ups have. DO YOUR RESEARCH!

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    • September 10, 2021 at 6:43 pm
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      And, where is bird has flown?

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  • September 9, 2021 at 11:13 am
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    I really think Maybe I’m a Leo should be on this list…..

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    • September 9, 2021 at 1:00 pm
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      I agree. Excellent song, one of the band’s best.

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  • September 9, 2021 at 12:58 pm
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    A perfectly good list. But I’d have added “Lazy,” and I would have put it at or near the top. It’s one of the greatest blues rock songs ever recorded.

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  • September 9, 2021 at 2:24 pm
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    If you add covers, I nominate “Hush” for the list.

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  • September 10, 2021 at 9:03 am
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    Flight of the rat – Lazy – the mule – hard lovin’ man – Hard to pick an absolute number one – they were all so good.

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  • September 10, 2021 at 10:25 am
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    Burn album was carried under my arm at school in 1973. Not the mid 70s

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    • September 10, 2021 at 11:13 pm
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      Burn was a February 1974 release, not 1973.

      Reply
  • September 10, 2021 at 10:53 am
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    Brian must be a Mark II fan. They certainly all are great picks. Maybe I’m a Leo was a song the band thought would catapult them to super stardom. They really loved it. My favorite line up was Mark I and II. Mark I did quite a few covers, the band not feeling a true direction. Saying that one of my favorites from Shades is And the Address. Hey Joe and Help were better than the originals. Mark I and II were the greatest live rock band ever.

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  • September 10, 2021 at 10:58 am
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    Sorry Brian meant Breton, the author of this compilation.

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  • September 10, 2021 at 11:07 am
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    Burn came out February 15, 1974. Purple mates had quite a sense of humor. A few good examples, Why didn’t Rosemary (ever take the pill), Knocking at your Backdoor and A200 an instrumental on Burn. A200 is a product used to get rid of the crabs!

    Reply
  • September 10, 2021 at 11:41 am
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    Lazy number 1, second: the Surprising, third: All I got is you

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  • September 10, 2021 at 1:11 pm
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    I miss No No No on that list

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  • September 10, 2021 at 1:23 pm
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    Excellent! But what about “Fools”, “When A Blind Man Cries”, and – last but not least – “Knoking At Your Backing Door”?
    Long live DP!
    Mircea, a fan since 1968, from Bucharest, Romania

    Reply
  • September 10, 2021 at 2:30 pm
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    I tell you what when I saw them in Dallas, Texas at the Cotton bowl playing with the scorpions not ranger grim reaper the scorpion was the loudest but deep purple had the laser light show that was man it was amazing it was a good night they played all my favorite songs I thought it was so cool to see him though before they didn’t have no more Texas jam is what they used to call it but it was an all day all night thing it was so cool 😎 I like deep purple and it’s a good band they are really really cool man perfect strangers and Knocking at Your back door just doesn’t my favorite and black night I listen to them as I was growing up as a teenager wouldn’t mind seeing them again and be cool you’ll have a nice day my name is Luis and I’m from Bellmead, Texas.

    Reply
  • September 10, 2021 at 2:40 pm
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    All I can say, is Led who?

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  • September 10, 2021 at 3:51 pm
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    And “Soldier of fortune” ? And “Strange kind of woman” ? Really masterpieces.

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  • September 10, 2021 at 5:13 pm
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    Would love to have seen Rat Bat Blue and Place In The Line make the list.

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  • September 10, 2021 at 5:14 pm
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    Excellent choices

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  • September 10, 2021 at 5:45 pm
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    Lazy should be at or near the top…I Feel Like Screaming should also be on the list.

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  • September 10, 2021 at 6:43 pm
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    And, where is bird has flown?

    Reply
  • September 10, 2021 at 8:46 pm
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    LAZY #1

    One of the best Rock and Roll songs EVER!!!!

    You can’t just stay in bed when you hear this song!!!!

    Reply
  • September 10, 2021 at 10:56 pm
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    And where is april

    Reply
  • September 11, 2021 at 2:25 am
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    Add power of the moon to the list.

    Reply
  • September 11, 2021 at 3:44 am
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    Overall a good list. Ian Gillan deserves more credit thsn he gets. I am a Vocalist and as far as HARD ROCK is concerned Ian is easily in THE TOP THREE.

    Reply
  • September 11, 2021 at 8:33 am
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    The best of trinity of hard rock is between
    Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin for me and Highway Star is the best rock song ever and his guitar solo the best all times, but Lazy, When a blindman cries, Stormbringer, Anya, Black Night, Knocking at your back Door, Lady Double Dealer, Strange Kind of woman are greatest songs too…Deep Purple is the best band all times…Real monsters of Rock…Genius

    Reply
  • September 11, 2021 at 11:58 am
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    If Lazy is not on the list, it’s not a true ranking list. That song showcases the incredible talent of Deep Purples individual performers and brings them all together to make one of ultimate blues rock songs….and John Lord’s intro makes a killer doorbell!

    Reply
  • September 11, 2021 at 2:18 pm
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    I have Burn as my ringtone. Machine Head was the album the got me into heavy rock but of I were to vote for the best song purple ever did it would be Burn.

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  • September 12, 2021 at 1:16 am
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    Burn is also my ringtone. I recorded it really loud too. When my phone rings, everyone knows. Except when my wife call me it’s Woman from Tokyo.

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  • September 15, 2021 at 7:19 pm
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    Stormbringer!!!!!

    Reply

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