Certain Songs #295: Deep Purple – “Flight of The Rat”

Deep purple in rock Album: Deep Purple in Rock
Year: 1970

One of the things that Deep Purple had that a lot of their metal contemporaries lacked was escape velocity: the ability to play their songs at a ferocious speed for an extended period of time.

Led by their multifaceted (and eternally underrated) drummer Ian Paice, they could lock into an uptempo groove and just keep going and going.

Nowhere did they display this more than on Deep Purple In Rock, which, after all, led off with a song called “Speed King” that was more than just a boast. It’s a good thing, too, because fast songs can get away with a lot more stupid shit than slow songs. And on no song did Deep Purple get away with more dumb shit than “Flight of The Rat,” the supersonic opener of side two of Deep Purple in Rock.

Grounded by a distorted and chunky Ritchie Blackmore riff, “Flight of The Rat” moves through nearly eight minutes of high-octane rock and roll, fronted by Jon Lord’s overdriven keyboard, all the while Ian Gillan is screaming a semi-autobiographical tale that climaxes with:

Now I’m free
And I can see
That I am me

Good to know. But at the same time, Lord’s keyboard solo is aces — coming in like a Wilheim scream, and taking off from there — and Blackmore’s guitar solo is so run through with studio effects that when he finally ends up in a wah-wah duet with Paice, it nearly makes sense. As does the end, which is basically a short drum solo with Ian Paice starting from a stop and just playing faster and faster until they all crash back in at the end.

There’s no real need for any of this, but I’ve always found it unutterably fun.

Also: Mount Rockmore!!!

Fan-made video for “Flight of The Rat”

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