I'm not a big fan of Shades Of, and that's not because I don't like Deep Purple Mk I. I do like Deep Purple Mk I. I think the third Purple album from '69 is one of the band's all-time best, and an underrated classic. Shades Of only scratches the surface. In 1968, these five guys didn't have the road experience together yet to really gel as a unit. Blackmore has yet to emerge as the confident axeman that he is, still shyly putting together his solos while Jon Lord takes the forefront more often than not.
"Hush" was and is still a fantastic version, and my preferred take over the 1988 Ian Gillan version. "I'm So Glad" isn't bad, but "Mandrake Root" is not what it would later become live. "Help" has been slowed down to a crawl (reportedly, the way the Beatles wanted to do it) but it doesn't rock. "Love Help Me" is poppy goodness, but "Hey Joe" is another one that would be better live.
The 5 bonus tracks are all valuable, as these are some of Purple's earliest live performances. Something like "Hey Joe" live begins to show what the band would make of it. There's also the rare track "Shadows" which is better than some of the tracks on the album itself.
2 stars. Hold tight, rock fans -- a year later, the best was yet to come!