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The History of ‘Hush’…

September 22, 2015

This week in 1968, Deep Purple hit the US chart with their debut single ‘Hush’. The track proved successful enough to propel them on their way to the British rock royalty we know them to be today.

But Deep Purple weren’t the first or last to have a stab at the track. 1967 and 1968 were busy years in the life of ‘Hush’. 1967 saw versions by English singer-songwriter Kris Ife and Australian singer-songwriter Russell Morris and of course the Billy Joe Royal version, for whom the song was written. Royal’s ‘Hush’ peaked (and stalled) at number 52 in the Billboard Charts. Here he is dancing in front of what looks like a PowerPoint ™ bar graph.

But it was to be Deep Purple’s reworking of the track the following year that really added meat to the bones of ‘Hush’. Complete with howling wolf intro, Hammond organ, driving rhythm section and Sir Richie Of Blackmore on guitar, the track became a psychedelic rock classic and gave the band their first hit across the pond.

Here they are performing the track on ‘Playboy After Dark’ at the Playboy Mansion showing Hugh Hefner how to play guitar, which isn’t at all weird. The whole thing is gloriously Saturday-Night-Live-sketch. Complete with gold spandex peddle-pushers, Yeti boots, bunny girls, stick-on Lego hair, ghost stories, so many flammable man-made fibers it’s a wonder the set doesn’t spontaneously combust, joke-rock English accents, that wobbly body/head snapping dancing that people only knew how to do in the 60s, go-go dancers. It’s all here folks. This is one party I’m sorry I missed!

Pop soul outfit and one-time second biggest seller to The Beatles, The Love Affair, added this equally worthy effort the same year from their debut album.

1968 also gave us versions by American singer, Merrilee Rush

and some added je ne sais quoi from French megastar Johnny Hallyday with his translated ‘Mal’

Five years later in 1973 bizarre Irish rock outfit ‘Funky Junction’ almost entirely made up of Thin Lizzy (!) and formed for the almost sole purpose of being some kind of Deep Purple tribute act, gave us this version…

By 1988 however the world appears to have completely lost its mind and this inexplicable Milli Vanilli version happened!

A little back on track, the Hush story picks up again in 1997 with post-Brit Pop psychedelic rock outfit Kula Shaker’s offering. The band’s heavily India-era Beatles ‘inspired’ debut album K may well have invited ‘joke rock’ sniggers from the music press at the time but with more than a respectful nod to the likes of Deep Purple and Love Affair – this is a valiant effort.

There are others and likely to be more to come. You can’t keep a good groove down!

But we should probably hand the track back to the original composer Joe South. The multi-talented guitarist, prominent session player (Bob Dylan, Aretha Franklin, Simon & Garfunkel…) and composer (Games People Play, I Never Promised You A Rose Garden, Down In The Boondocks) was certainly no stranger to a classic track.

All together now ‘na-nana-na-nana-na-nana-naaaaaaaaaaaa’