One of Deep Purple’s most famous contributions to the rock pantheon [yeah, guys, along with bloody Smoke On The Water!!-SIG] is undoubtedly Child In Time (FF 1976 #25). Ian Gillan, as the quote at the head of this post attests, was extremely modest about his contribution to the track. It came about, so the sleeve notes to the anniversary edition of Deep Purple In Rock tell us, when bassist Roger Glover, drummer Ian Paice and guitarist Richie Blackmore (of the Mark II Purple, naturally), were on holiday on a boat on the Thames. As every good rock band should, they took some records by artists they were ‘into’ at the time to see what they could
rip off draw on as influences, and they settled on the song Bombay Calling by ultra-bongheads It’s A Beautiful Day. During studio rehearsals, a jam over a theme from this evolved into what is apparently a protest against the Vietnam war (‘See the blind man/He’s shooting at the world/Bullets flying/they’re taking toll’). IABD subsequently pinched the riff from Wring That Neck: Hertfordshire Hippies-1/San Francisco Hippies-1.
Watch the reverential awe (and the hair) with which the 1970 BBC audience assess the band, even at the frenzied climax, and marvel again at Gillan’s screaming.
Its reputation as an awesome live track is well-deserved (one listen to the remastered Made In Japan should silence the critics), all the more since it’s mostly instrumental. However, the In Rock album beat Pink Floyd’s Atom Heart Mother in album sales, and is still gritty, mind-blowing listening to this day. To say that it presaged a new era in rock, when it would undergo a catharsis from being cherished by long-haired university students to becoming the doyen of headbanging leather freaks, is putting it too strongly: but it’s unique and, in its field, unchallengeable.