With a storied career that is quickly approaching half a century, and more than 20 studio albums sprinkled throughout (in addition to many live and best-of sets), Deep Purple is quite simply one of the most successful, renowned, respected and enduring bands in rock history.

The key word here, perhaps, is “bands,” given how many musicians have flitted through Deep Purple’s ranks over the years. Still, the resulting lineups created music that reflected the unique dynamic between the players at hand, prompting the popular reference to these as Mk. I, Mk. II, etc.

The resulting studio projects crafted by each edition of Deep Purple has seen the group evolve from the arty, psychedelic searchers of the ‘60s, to the heavy metal cornerstone of the ‘70s (with dalliances in funk rock, neoclassical rock, etc.), to the mainstream hard rock royalty of the ‘80s and, later, freewheeling elder statesmen throughout the ‘90s and new millennium.

Each of these eras yielded albums of astonishing quality and, yes, a smattering of disappointing ones, and that’s why the task of ranking all of Deep Purple’s studio albums, from worst to best, was both a challenging and amazingly adventurous experience, capable of surprising even those of us who think we know the band’s discography inside out.

Those surprises and other revelations will no doubt come to you readers, as well, so let us know your agreements and disagreements as we now rank Deep Purple’s albums from worst to best.