were an important way of getting to hear different bands at a
time when regular albums were expensive. Record labels were happy
to sell them largely at cost and hope to tempt buyers on to buy
the full-priced products they were in effect advertising. It was
into this world of budget priced offerings that 'Purple People'
emerged at the end of 1973, hoping to turn people on to the varied
delights of Purple Records, a label then just two years old, which
was perhaps being overshadowed by the success of their biggest
signing, Deep Purple. Clearly
Purple Records didn't want a series of Deep Purple clones on their
Bullet were a new band formed by ex-Episode Six and Quatermass
bassist John Gustafson, along with John Cann and drummer Paul
Hammond, who had two top ten hits in 1970/71 (the brilliant 'Tomorrow
Night' and 'The Devil's Answer') as two thirds of Atomic Rooster.
When Rooster imploded in mid 1971 they formed a four piece called
Daemon, along with Gustafson and singer Al Shaw. Their demos came
to the attention of Purple Records, and they were signed as Bullet.
Discovering there was already a band called Bullet, they quickly
changed their name to Hard Stuff to avoid problems. Their albums,
'Bulletproof' and 'Bolex Dementia' are certainly good riffing
stuff but, despite getting gigs, they never managed to become
anything other than a rock band with potential. John Gustafson
went on to join Roxy Music and The Ian Gillan Band, while John
Cann had a short spell in Thin Lizzy. Hard Stuff's superbly taut
'Libel' from Bolex Dementia appeared on the original 'Purple People'
album, a rough demo mix of 'Monster In Paradise' (a song performed
originally by Episode Six and written by Ian Gillan & Roger
Glover) is one of the cd bonus tracks.
Buddy Bohn brought laid back American troubadour style to
the label, and his experience typifies the label's policy of listening
to a wide variety of acts. Bohn had been working as a solo performer
in Las Vegas and Hollywood before coming to London to open at
the Revolution Club for Bread in early 1971. Whilst in town, he
cut a demo which, on the advice of George Martin was played to
Tony Edwards who (Bohn recalls) had a reputation for being a step
ahead of everyone else. Edwards and Coletta enjoyed the demo and
signed Buddy there and then.
Silverhead were an interesting mixture of a rocky, Nazareth-style
band, fronted by singer Michael Des Barres (and also featuring
Blondie bassist to be Nigel Harrison) who veered towards the glam-rock
end of the musical spectrum. Purple's producer Martin Birch was
behind the controls for their first album but, for the a-side
'Rolling With My Baby', which was different to the LP version,
Ian Paice handled the production. Their career looked set to take
off worldwide, but they only made it really big in Japan. 'Rolling
With My Baby' remains a glam-rock classic.
Tony Ashton wasn't a new act as such, but was new to the label.
Ashton was closely involved with Purple Records mainly through
his involvement with Jon Lord. Ashton had sung on the 'Gemini
Suite' album which helped launch the label, and had also recorded
a film soundtrack with Lord, 'The Last Rebel' (now available on
a Purple Records CD). After that he and Lord began work on a rock
album together in 1971. As they were both busy elsewhere, sessions
took a while to organise, but the first fruits of it were a single
called 'Celebration', issued in October 1972 credited just to
Tony Ashton, but written and featuring the pair of them.
Purple Records' last new release of 1972 was a strange one. 'Who
Is The Doctor' was an idea by Rupert Hine to update the Doctor
Who theme. Roger Glover met Rupert Hine and David MacIver,
working as a duo called Rupert And David, in the mid-sixties at
a publisher's office. Glover kept in touch with Hine and when
the new label began he got them signed up. 'I heard some of their
songs; complicated, wordy, jazzy folk musical extravaganzas. I
encouraged them to simplify their music a little and ended up
producing them for the label', Glover recalls. He realised that
Hine was full of ideas and encouraged him to get involved in production
work. Jon Pertwee (then playing the Doctor on TV) was invited
to guest on the single. It's a fun track and a very collectable
record amongst Doctor Who fans. The track was reissued on CD a
few years ago but dubbed from vinyl. The quarter inch tapes have
since been located, so it appears here remastered from those for
the first time.
Curtiss Maldoon featured Clive Maldoon and Dave
Curtiss. Curtiss had been considered for Deep Purple in 1968,
and then gone on to form Bodast with Steve Howe, who recorded
their (at the time unissued) album for Purple's managers. Maldoon
had later joined Bodast and when the band split he and Dave formed
their duo. The hypnotic 'Clouds In My Hair' appeared on their
second album (credited only to Maldoon), but had been written
for their first, from whence comes bonus track 'Man From Afghanistan'
(a collection from their first and second albums is now available
on CD from Purple Records). The duo achieved unlikely fame twenty
five years later when Madonna covered 'Sepheryn' from their first
album (retitled as 'Ray Of Light').
Carol Hunter issued her one and only album (and single) for
the label in 1973. Carol was Neil Diamond's guitarist from 1969
to 1972 (and later worked with Janis Ian) and was spotted by Tony
Edwards out in L.A. when Purple were touring there.
Yvonne Elliman, the label's first female signing, also released
a Purple Records album and single (with Rupert Hine behind the
desk and also writing a lot of the tracks), which featured musicians
such as Mick Grabham (from Procol Harum) and old Episode Six /
Quatermass bandmates Pete Robinson and John Gustafson. Elliman
also guested on Jon Lord's 'Gemini Suite' sessions in 1971. Her
often superb solo album ranged from quite rocky numbers through
to quiet acoustic songs. On the heavier side, she did a great
cover of The Who's 'I Can't Explain' which thirty years on is
still being sampled by hip DJs today. Pete Townshend turned up
to play a great guitar solo on the track. Elliman moved to America
soon after, and was next heard doing the backing vocals on Eric
Clapton's 'I Shot The Sheriff'.
British band Tucky Buzzard were proteges of The Rolling
Stones' Bill Wyman, who was producing them. The band later supported
Deep Purple on parts of their 1974 American tour, where their
mix of rockınıroll and Southern boogie went down well. Their management
company was just across the road from the Purple offices, and
when John Coletta heard they had two albums looking for a UK deal
he was able to bring them into the fold. The albums were issued
just six months apart.
Rupert Hine found time off from his production work to issue
two Purple Records albums, and a clever single called 'Hamburgers'.
Hine later went on to work with Tina Turner, Camel and his own
outfit Quantum Jump.
the release of 'Purple People' in December 1973 (the cut off date
for the CD bonus tracks), the label began to concentrate more
on Deep Purple themselves. There were far fewer albums, and only
one new signing, an American band called Elf. Silverhead ground
to a halt, with a live album in the can which was only issued
in Japan (it's due for a thorough remix and reissue shortly),
but Micheal Des Barres was good for one final solo single before
he left for America and eventually a long-running career as a
television and film actor. These were the last non-Deep Purple
connected releases issued by Purple Records, and from then on
all releases were either by Deep Purple or members of the band.
In 1999, permission to start a new Purple Records was sought.
Though an independent label, licensing material from a variety
of sources, one of the ideas was to rummage through the old catalogue.
For the remastering of 'Purple People', the original quarter inch
production tape was used to replicate the 1973 listening experience
much more closely, cleaning up and restoring where necessary.
The label's early motto (suggested by MacIver and Hine) was The
Open Ear, and even today, barring one or two tracks, they clearly
had a fascinating mix of artists and music, and many of them still
sound great thirty years later.
People' can be ordered from the dpas