Pure Purple

Hammond Sound

So, I went to see my new top friend Oz Gillan’s band Pure Purple the other night. He very kindly put me on the guest list and I had an excellent night. Deep Purple were on first then Rainbow then Whitesnake. An odd order really as I would have put Deep Purple on last but hey.

I thought this could make a good piece about Hammond organ as it isn’t often that I get a chance to see other Hammond organ players live on stage. So the first thing I did was enter the venue and walk to the stage to have a look what he had, while my brother went to the bar 🙂

So first off were Pure Purple, and a Roland VK8 connected to a real Leslie – looked like a 145. Now I’ll be honest with you I have never been able to get much good out of the Roland and for it to be a dedicated (ish) organ I’ve always thought the Leslie sound and overdrive settings were quite poor, however I think the organ player in Pure Purple has dealt with these drawbacks with the use of Marshall and Leslie, more on that later.

So here it is then the Roland VK8:

Available from www.turramusic.com.au

It’s a neat little package, isn’t it? A non-modular single drawer bar organ and has all the features that you need and would expect from a clonewheel – drawbars, vibrato, chorus, overdrive and percussion (and even some piano sounds as well). And I’m guessing it doesn’t weigh half a ton like the XK3! There is a very good review of it here. I really liked the D-Beam performance control that the organist used to emulate the tone wheels being switched off at the end of their version of speed king, this is an effect that Hammond should be emulating better on their models. In fairness to Hammond my XK3c has a go at this sound and instead of emulating actually kills the signal to the valves when you pulled the pitch bend wheel down. This is then a real sound unlike the Roland’s emulated sound however the Roland Sound wins here.

Where the Roland falls down from me is on the Leslie, apparently the reverb is poor but I was unable to hear any nuances in reverb other than Child In Time which I thought it handled extremely well. Pure Purple have dealt with this by matching up a real Leslie and although I didn’t see it I wouldn’t be surprised if there was an A-B switch somewhere and a Marshall master volume head knocking around. So the sound worked very well, the overdriven sound on Highway Star was correct and as I said earlier the reverb and percussion click on Child In Time was superb. Never really being able to hear my own organ apart from fold back I was reassured by my brother that my organ sound was exactly the same out front at that venue as to be honest I would have thought that out of the box Joe’s sound had edged it. Reassured was the word because if I’d not have been I would have had to go to PMT and spend a lot of money on Monday!

Technical bits over for the moment, I enjoyed the band immensely. The out front sound wasn’t fantastic to be honest and I think Speed King is a very difficult song to sing cold. Perfect Strangers followed and OZ nailed it. It was interesting to see a purple tribute band and the way that they had approached it which was basically to learn all of it solos and all. I have often toyed with the idea of doing a Purple tribute band myself but would have made a point of emphasising the creativity of their live performances and pitched the band firmly in 1972 ad-libbing between guitar and drums and organ in the original way. I guess audiences want to hear the record and don’t want to hear the indulgence of the 70s anymore. Dunno??

I enjoyed all the songs, and I thought their drummer was their standout musician. The bass player was quiet and inauspicious but bang on the money rather like Roger Glover so maybe I’ll change that of the rhythm section being standout. The bass and drums are probably the hardest part to get right in a purple tribute and often overlooked.

Next on were the Rainbow tribute band who had quite a difficult job because they had to emulate from mid-70s to early 80s and this meant that the keyboard player had to lug around Hammond, piano and synths (Don Airey) to get all the songs across. Lacking any decent Hammond clone I thought was a big negative here but then I would wouldn’t I? The synth stuff came across very well and it was good to hear some unusual rainbow songs (Eyes of the World) as well as the obvious Dio Classics. Frankly they pulled Stargazer easily as good as Rainbow ever did and the guitar player had certainly done his homework.

A good night in all then 🙂

Thanks for the tickets Oz, our internet bromance finally culminating in meeting up and meeting a really nice person!

See you soon,

Nick

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