Sound — 9
"The Book of Taliesyn" is the second Deep Purple's album, released in 1968. If compared to "Shades of Deep Purple," this album is really a step beyond. There are still many psychedelic rock influences, but the songwriting is really more studied, and the sound is harder. The opener "Listen, Learn, Read On" is here to prove it, fast and hard enough to be regarded as hard rock. "Wring That Neck" is an instrumental track, very hard and with a great musicality and the musical mastery of Blackmore and Lord can really be noticed. "Kentucky Woman" is originally written by Neil Diamond, and is well covered by the band. About covers, in this album there are three covers, one less than the first album. "Exposition - We Can Work It Out" starts with an instrumental introduction, originally composed by Beethoven, then comes the song, composed by The Beatles. Then comes a really interesting track, the one in the album where the psychedelic influences are more present. It is "Shield," a perfect arrangement, lyrics and musicality, that shows the '60s attitude of the band. "Anthem" got a really good Hammond part and a catching chorus but there is no live recording of it, due to the violin solos. The last track "River Deep Mountain High" is a cover of a single by Tina Turner. So this album is more near to the Hard Rock instead of Psychedelic rock, and shows how the band growed up since the first album.
Lyrics — 8
The lyrics are really better if compared with the first album although there are only three song which are not covers or instrumentals. I think that the best lyrics are in "Shield," very evocative and musical. I think the song talks about the fragility of the balance of life, how the fate will come for everyone (despite of the "shield"). Even "Anthem" got really good lyrics, about love, but we know that love is the most used topic in songs. The chorus on the song is perfect. Evans's skills can be better noticed in this album rather than in the first one.
Overall Impression — 8
"The Book of Taliesyn" is probably the best Deep Purple's album of the Mk1 era, it join Hard Rock and Psychedelic Rock in a perfect way, it clearly shows the musicians skills (especially Blackmore and Lord). It still is far from the classic Hard sound for the band is known, but in tracks like "Wring That Neck" we can hear how the band was growing up in Hard arrangements, and like I said for "Shades of Deep Purple," the band could have been a great psychedelic rock band. I really liked this album, really more catching than "Shades," if you want to hear only one of the Mk1 albums, you should hear this.