Write Here, Write Now: 8.14 – Ring of Smoke

MadMixMustang – Ring of Smoke (Johnny Cash-Deep Purple). Riff-free country rambling.

This is a revelation. Taking Ian Gillan’s vocals and setting them to Johnny Cash’s music, I couldn’t quite believe at first that they were the same as those originally set to Ritchie Blackmore’s rifftastic heavy metal guitar. They sound so country, so suited to the Mariachi-tinged sounds of Ring of Fire. There almost seems to be the same twang that I hear in Cash’s voice. And are those really the original backing vocals? They seem so Nashville.

And the story of Smoke on the Water could so easily have been the sort of yarn narrated by a glib country singer – “the things folks do, eh listeners?”

Deep Purple were one of my first favourites as a rural pre-teen discovering music back in the seventies, probably for the power chords and the heavy sound. But gong back to them in recent years, what I like most is the subtleties of things like Ian Paice’s swinging drumbeat. Smoke on the Water is so dominated by the guitar riff, that it is really refreshing to hear Ian Gillan’s vocals free from the perpetual music instrument shop irritant. Next time I hear the original, I will listen out for more than just duh duh durr, duh duh duh durr.

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