In 1974 Jon Lord surfaced on not one, not two but three albums. All
were world's apart from one another. Deep Purple's BURN was bluesy
hard rock, and marked the debut of the band's new line-up. WINDOWS was
a classical rock piece, recorded live in Germany with a full orchestra
and rock musicians. Making up the trio was FIRST OF THE BIG BANDS, a
laid back project which emerged from three years of sessions by Jon
Lord and old mate Tony Ashton.
FIRST OF THE BIG BANDS is now properly reissued for the first time on
CD in the UK.
The album was begun as far back as the autumn of 1971 at Apple
Studios. Ashton and Lord fancied trying a single, a song called We're
Gonna Make It. They had such fun that it was decided to plan a whole
album. Further sessions took place in 1972 and 1973, with Ashton and
Lord wanting to create the feel of a big band in the studio. Rather
than do overdubs, they had up to 15 musicians working together at any
one time, often with two drummers.
Despite both musicians having plenty of other commitments (Lord with
Deep Purple, Ashton with the final Ashton, Gardner & Dyke album and
then a hectic tour with Family), the album was largely finished by
1973 but delayed until 1974 to avoid confusing the market during the
line-up changes in Deep Purple.
Musically the album cleverly mixes elements of rock, swing and big
band, and is fascinating as a forerunner to the much admired Paice
Ashton Lord album which followed three years later, in that it uses
big brass sections and mixes both Hammond and piano from the two main
When the album finally emerged ("We wanted to call it 'Last Of The Big
Bands, but felt that was tempting fate!"), it was decided not to
credit any of the session musicians to avoid any possible contractural
problems. Despite this, we now know that it featured Roy Dyke, Terry
Cox, Gerry Conway on drums, with Caleb Quaye, Mick Grabham, Mick
Liber, Jim Sullivan on guitar. Also named are Peter Frampton, Ron
Wood, B.J. Cole, Howie Casey, Dave Caswell and Cozy Powell. Ian Paice
appears on one track.
For this reissue, the CD has been mastered from the original quarter
inch production tape. Bonus material has been sourced from the 2"
masters. A non-album track Sloeback has also been restored to the
album as well as a longer version of Downside Upside Down.
Jon Lord is an increasingly respected writer, composer and musician.
While his reputation was built on the success of Deep Purple, for the
past decade his solo albums have been popping up on Radio 3 and
Classic FM, as he continues to work in both the rock and classical
arenas. He has a number of shows booked for this year, ranging from a
rerun of the famous Concerto For Group & Orchestra on one hand, to an
r'n'b showcase with his old mates at a blues festival in Germany.
Sleeve notes are by the noted Deep Purple expert Simon Robinson, and
the package also includes the original album artwork restored. Initial
copies are in a limited edition digi-pak format.
[Photo from the only live show done to promote the gig, courtesy
The CD can be ordered from the dpas