”NOOOOOOO...NOT ANOTHER EARLY PURPLE THREAD...!!!” This seems to be exactly what some of the readers may think when they see the title...but this one is a special one and should give some information, concentrated in one single post instead of reading hundreds of posts on different related threads to find some useful information. This one is dedicated to the debut album from 1968 and no other stuff should be discussed here. Thank you very much in advance. A few words before I will start writing down my homework: Please understand that I am not a native english speaker. I grew up in Germany and it would be much easier for me to create such a project in my own language, but not many of you would understand what I am talking about, so I will try to do my best. Please excuse possible mistakes. I spent much time comparing different vinyl and CD editions and decided to publish my conclusion here to solve some mysteries and give a little guide. I hope you will enjoy my words, maybe they will be useful to find a good-sounding version for a possible purchase (if you don’t own the album) or, at least, for enterntainment reason only. As a dedicated audiophile (and a music producer who started recording, mixing, mastering, remastering and audio restoration 20 years ago) I really like to pick some albums for a further comparison to find the definitive edition. I did it many times for all kinds of musical styles on several forums or just to discuss with people through email and it’s fun to me. After I read some very strange things about “Shades Of Deep Purple” on different platforms during the last years, it was my pleasure to compare whatever I could get and I came to my personal conclusion. The first mystery is the story about the UK master, used for the first pressing (and all later pressings up to 1987 with the YEX matrix numbers). Who the hell started the nonsense that a needledrop of the US Tetragrammaton LP was used to create a production master ??? Well, even the team at Abbey Road confirmed that rumour in the booklet of the 2000 Peter Mew remaster !!! Believe me: I always trust my ears and I have many different pressings on CD and vinyl here and I can tell you that the UK master was definitely a tape copy, not a needledrop. This one is true for the YEX....-1 matrixes and the main part of the later matrix variations for the repressings (YEX...-2 / -3 / -4). Why the main part ??? Here is an interesting detail (which could be responsible that EMI thought they have a needle drop on their master tape): Since the YEX...-2 matrixes, the finale played by the band and the steps / door were sourced from a vinyl LP. Before the band played the very last seconds, there is a short break in the song and after that, the sound changes and some typical crackling noises start when the music continues. It’s not easy to spot without headphones, but very obvious if you listen carefully. Not sure what happened to the original tape after the first pressings with the YEX...-1 matrix numbers, but I assume that the tape was damaged at the very end of side b. This could be the reason that the final part was added before the repressings, using a vinyl source to complete a new production master. Not sure if they used a UK first pressing or a Tetragrammaton record to paste that part to the tape, but in the end it doesn’t make a big difference, cause both the UK and US pressings sound very close in tonality. Here is my theory about the mysterious story of the mastertape: We all know that Deep Purple recorded the album in UK and went over to the United States to release their debut on Tetragrammaton. As many rumours said, the original master was shipped to the US and I think this could be true...but I have strong doubts that Tetragrammaton used the original master to send it to the pressing plants for manufacturing the vinyl editions. I think they made some copies for the pressing plants (US, UK, Germany, Canada...) and saved the original tape in their archives. I compared an original Tetragrammaton LP with an original UK pressing and both sound very similar. None of them sounds like taken from a better tape, not even from a master. A very interesting detail is the fact that the track “And The Adress” lacks massive treble on the left channel on nearly all available versions. On the canadian Polydor and the german Odeon it sounds slightly better, but I will talk about more details for both pressings later. On all versions you can hear some azimuth issues (strong phasing sounds when you push the mono button) which indicates that the tapes used for the pressing plants were possibly copies, made from a misaligned tape machine. Considering the sound on the US and UK original pressings, I think Tetragrammaton used bad equipment to create the production masters for the pressing plants. If you listen to 70s Japan LP versions, they sound much better and have more definition, clarity and detail...but more words about these editions later. Okay, let’s summarize the first essay about the UK mastertape: I am 99.9% sure it was a production master, made by Tetragrammaton and it was repaired by EMI to create new stampers after the YEX...-1 stampers where outworn...or shipped to India or Australia where LP pressings were manufactured with the original YEX...-1 matrixes...??? Unfortunately, I never had any chance to listen to an India or Australia pressing, but considering the size of the runout grooves and the font style of the YEX numbers, I think they sound the same as the first UK pressings. If not, please feel free to update my post if you have useful information. There is also a german pressing on Odeon (the very first one), including the YEX...-1 matrixes in combination with the 062... catalogue number, but with a different font. The runout grooves on both sides are also very different (much bigger) compared to the UK ones, so I think the mastertapes were possibly marked with the YEX numbers and the german cutting engineers added the numbers to mark the stampers correctly. Time to go further into the german pressings (all later Odeon pressings sound exactly the same and have the same size of the runout grooves, but without the YEX matrix numbers). The overall sound is much better, compared to the US and UK pressings, but it has some very annoying phasing issues. It is very noticeable on “And The Adress” and “Hush” where all the hihat and cymbal stuff sounds like a cheap mp3 file. The german cutters possibly tried to correct the treble issue on the left channel for track one and added some upper frequencies and volume level to the channel. It sounds better than on the US or UK LP, but the phasing issues are very disturbing to these ears. The canadian Polydor pressing seems to be the best available complete version on vinyl. Sure, it has also the treble issues on the first track and a small amount of phasing, but it is not as obvious as on the german LP. There are also Japan pressings from 1973 and 1977 for example and they sound phantastic, but unfortunately the steps and the door after the final track “Hey Joe” are missing. Compared to the US, UK and Canada LPs, the Japan editions sound best. They have nearly no phasing issues, a great soundstage, high definition and a very detailed clarity. When the album was remastered by Peter Mew in 2000, EMI found the original mastertapes in the United States in the archives of Warner Bros...the 1973 and 1977 Japan LPs were released by Warner Bros Japan and maybe they got a new and better transfer from the original mastertape in 1973 ??? It could be possible, but there is a very small detail which let me be in doubt about it: on the song “Help” you can hear a small static noise around the 4:40 mark. It sounds like an FM interference and I am sure it happened during the dub from the original master to one of the production masters. This short noise is audible on the UK and Germany LPs and it is also part of all Japan LP versions. On the US and Canada LPs, it is not there...so here is the question: Was the production master for the Japan LP imported from UK and reEQed in 1973 ? Never...cause since the second UK pressing, the last minute of “Hey Joe (including the steps and the door) was sourced from vinyl and you can hear the different sound with headphones. On the Japan LP, the sound doesn’t change on the finale of the band and the steps and the door are completely missing. Also the german pressing has the little noise in “Help”, but “Hey Joe” is complete here and clearly from a tape source (including the steps and door part). Some of the tracks on the german LP suffer from annoying phasing issues, so the Japan LP was definitely not sourced from the german master. There is simply no explanation which master was used in Japan to create the 1973 and 1977 LP version, but it sounds far superior, compared to all other vinyl versions. I assume a new transfer from the original Warner Bros master was made in the United States and shipped to Japan...and the little noise in “Help” will be a mystery forever. So here we have the second roundup: The canadian Polydor pressing is the best complete version (but far away from being a perfect version) and the Japan 1973 / 1977 vinyl editions have the best sound, but lacking the steps and the door at the end. Let’s continue with the common CD versions. I listened to the 1989 Japan CD (Forever Young series) and the 1989 EMI CD. Soundwise they are very close to each other and none of them were sourced from vinyl !!! Only the last part on the EMI CD was pasted from vinyl (same as on all UK post-YEX...-1 pressings) and it indicates that the same mastertape was used for the CD as for the vinyl editions from YEX...-2 onwards. The Japan CD has the full album sourced from tape (even the end part of “Hey Joe” is completely included here although it was missing on all vinyl editions in Japan), but has some dropout issues in “I’m So Glad” (1st refrain, right channel) which are not included on the EMI CD. The EMI has slightly more hiss, but the overall sound quality is very similar. While EMI used their production master (YEX...-2) with the pasted vinyl dub of the “Hey Joe” ending for the 1989 CD edition, the Japan CD seems to be sourced from another master as the one used for the 1973 Japan LP release. It is complete on the 1989 CD and has the dropouts on “I’m So Glad” (which are not on vinyl). So if you need that album on non-remastered CD without any major flaws, you have to buy both versions (The 1989 Japan CD for the most part of the album and the 1989 EMI CD for “I’m So Glad” without the dropouts). There was also a very cheap budget CD version, released on Ariola label in Germany 1993 under the title “Hush”. It contains the entire “Shades Of Deep Purple” album, but with the tracks in different order and adding “River Deep, Mountain High” as bonus. It’s not a simple digital compilation from the 1989 CDs, but a unique mastering with some flaws. It sounds more bright and has some very audible repair jobs on several minor dropouts. I bought that CD for 1 Cent (yes, no joke !!!) to add it to my collection, but I am sure I will never listen to it again. In 2000, the album was remastered by Peter Mew at Abbey Road and released with some bonus tracks. If you believe the story in the liner notes, the original production master was finally located in the United States (in the Warner Bros archives) and shipped to the UK for a new transfer and further digital processing. Compared to all vinyl and previous CD editions, the source material used for the remaster seemed to be of superior quality. No phasing issues, major dropouts or other defects can be heard on the 2000 remaster. Sure, the stuff was compressed, denoised and reEQed, but if you are looking for the lowest generation, this is the only chance to listen to it. In 1998 (before the original production master was located), another Japan CD was released on Deep Purple Overseas (TECW-21717). Compared to the 1989 CD, the new version was mastered louder, has slightly more detail and brightness and a very low amount of tape hiss. I suspect it was carefully denoised and mastered from the 1989 Japan source tape, cause it has the same dropout issues on “I’m So Glad” as the old CD, but the overall sound is much clearer and has more detail. It has also a much more natural sound as the 2000 remaster. In 2014, the album was released again on CD as part of the “Hard Road” box set. This version has some phasing issues and sounds like taken from a tape which sounds similar to the german mastertape from 1968 (for the Odeon LP). Sadly, the steps and the door are missing again (as on the original Japan vinyl editions) and the frequency range sounds totally different, compared to all previous released versions. As the new version didn’t use much compression (if any...), the EQ was changed in a bad way for my taste. It really destroys the typical end 60s vibe of the recordings. As we have some phasing errors on this version and of course, the missing ending of the album, I suspect that the album was not mastered from the original tape, but from a safety copy or another dub which was available at the time. I think the original tape sits in the shelves of Abbey Road and Andy Pearce had to work with a copy. Otherwise I wouldn’t have any explanation why the end of the album is missing here or where the phasing errors could result from. Maybe the tape has degraded over the last 15 years or they used bad tape machines for a new transfer. Who knows ??? My conclusion: We have at least 6 different CD masterings (Forever Young Series Japan 1989, EMI UK 1989, Ariola Germany 1993, EMI UK 2000, Parlophone EMI 2014) and several versions on vinyl (US Tetragrammaton 1968, UK 1st press, UK 2nd press, German Odeon 1968, Polydor Canada 1968, Warner Bros Japan 1973 / 1977) and they all sound different. Now we have 2015 and it’s 47 years ago when that album was recorded and first released – and nobody of us all knows how the original production master / the original mastertape sounds like. Isn’t it a shame ??? Instead of releasing a flat transfer (maybe from the digitizing job from 2000), we always get new remasters with different choices by the engineers – but I would really appreciate a pure and flat copy of the REAL mastertape !!! Will it happen sometimes ??? Hope dies at last... My friends, this is for sure much stuff, but it is a pleasure to share it with all of you. Maybe you will find some time to read my words to discuss or refute some of my theories, but I think I am very close to the truth of the story here, especially regarding the mastertapes used in 1968 for US, UK and Canada.