Get ready for some classic GOR

  • 2006-01-04
  • By Gary Peach
RIGA - There's a little-known acronym in the music industry 's AOR 's that arose in the 1970s to describe what at the time where middle-aged men who refused to lay down their guitars and drumsticks and take up business or high-school teaching. "Adult-oriented rock" was often used in reference to the likes of the Eagles, Bob Seger (anyone remember the Silver Bullet Band?), and Jackson Browne 's musicians whose constituency in those years was older and required lyrics with a bit more depth than "Dancing Queen" or "Rock-n-Roll All Night." They cranked out multi-platinum albums and penned some of the most memorable tunes in rock-n-roll annals.

Amazingly, a few of these AOR acts are still around, and they still find the energy to put on shows and tour the world. Two of them 's "Deep Purple" and "Nazareth" 's are scheduled to appear in Tallinn and Vilnius in the beginning of February. Granted, their voices have lost their reach, and their hair has grayed (if they have any left), but that's no matter: their audience is no younger.

That's why we've tagged it with a modified acronym, GOR: grandparent-oriented rock.

In recent years the Baltics have seen quite a few classic rock performances 's Joe Cocker, Robert Plant, King Crimson 's but rarely a twin act with the caliber of Deep Purple and Nazareth. The two bands have a lot in common, with two facts standing out: they were both formed in the United Kingdom in 1968, and they are 's alongside Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath 'sprogenitors of the original wave of heavy metal.

Deep Purple's first album was released in 1968. Its central song "Hush," a classic organ-and-guitar jam, is still staple fare on FM stations today. The group released four more albums (one a concerto recorded with an entire symphony orchestra, a sound that was later perfected by Emerson, Lake & Palmer), but it wasn't until its fifth album "Machine Head" in 1972 that Deep Purple became a household name. It reached the top of the charts in the U.K. and went platinum in the U.S.

Without a doubt, the album's main track 's "Smoke on the Water" 's is reason enough for both old-school rock-n-rollers (such as this writer) and younger music-lovers in the Baltics to splurge and buy a ticket to the event. The opening riff of the classic song pounds like an enraged monster preparing to attack and is instantly recognized around the world. There's not an electric guitar player in the world who isn't familiar with it.

Whereas Deep Purple is from England, Nazareth is a Scottish (Edinburgh) band, an overlooked fact that the band is keen to point out. Originally the Shadettes, the group performed proper jingles in suit and tie before letting their hair grow out and holding their guitars a bit closer to the amplifiers. Heavy metal become Nazareth's new mantra, and Deep Purple's Roger Glover even produced one of the Scotsmen's classic songs: "This Flight Tonight."

But if both bands had a penchant for doing covers of other artists' songs (Deep Purple's "Kentucky Woman"), Nazareth was particularly adept at it. "This Flight Tonight" was written by Joni Mitchell, and the band's most renowned hit, "Love Hurts," is a cover of an Everly Brothers hit.

Deep Purple is touring Europe and North America after the October release of "Rapture of the Deep," the band's fourth album since founder Ritchie Blackmore left over a decade ago. As far as Nazareth, well, they're just touring for now. The band's last album of original material was released eight years ago.

Which brings us back to the dilemma with these concerts. Honestly, is it worth bothering with such musical dinosaurs when there is plenty of fresh talent 's White Stripes, Moby, to name a couple 's swinging through the region? In this writer's opinion, definitely. Because classic groups such as Deep Purple and Nazareth are icons, living musical history, walking testimony to the greatest cultural revolution of the 20th century, and one day soon they will be gone 's dust in the wind, to use a stock phrase. So it would be wise of us to enjoy them while they are still here. We will one day regret it if we don't.

In the meantime, pray for the day when one of the Baltic presidents - for the sake of some quality GOR - will convince Mick Jagger and Co. to swing by.