There is a reason Blackmore is on the cover of the recently remixed and re-released Deep Purple double disc set Paris 1975. That reason is that Ritchie is front and center of the mix and Ritchie put on one fantastic performance.
This concert is one of the final concerts for the Mach III line up as Blackmore was exiting after the tour was finished. He would go out with a bang.
Ian Paice was also on beast mode. His drumming was strong and often intense. Songs like Burn reveal just how good a drummer he was at the height of Deep Purple’s powers.
For some reason Jon Lord was not as prominent as a soloist on this disc. Yes, he has some solos. But in the Mach III days, the focus was more on guitar. This concert reflects that to a degree. Of the 10 songs found here, only 3 reflect the Mach II days. All 3 of them are from the Machine Head album. In addition to his trademark B-3, there is some work on the synth that was becoming more popular.
Don’t think you are getting cheated since there are only 10 songs. 5 of them are over 10 minutes, and 2 of them are at 20 minutes. There is plenty of music happening here, with lots of improvisation by talented musicians.
Those songs are more of a challenge for David Coverdale. I didn’t think he handled that material very well. On Highway Star, part of the encore, he changes the lyrics to ones I would have appreciated as a teenaged boy (and by the sex crazed French), but not as a man in his late 40’s. He was strong on the songs from Burn and Stormbringer. The concert begins with those 2 title songs, setting an aggressive tone for the concert that only rarely lets up.
In addition to playing bass, Glenn Hughes handles most of the between song banter. His playing was good. His banter …. not so much. He’s actually often annoying picking on “fat people” and the like.
While this is not the best Deep Purple concert available, it is certainly a very strong concert. It represents this era of Deep Purple very well. It is a worthy addition to a fan’s collection, and should get many listens. Serious fans will enjoy the interviews which talk about the songs from the 2 albums this version of the band produced.
As I noted, the concert begins with Burn, and it burns. There is the usual last second tuning/warming up as Ritchie tosses in his usual little run before a little blues intro. With the words “okay” Ritchie rips into the riff and away we go. As I noted, Ian is just killing the drums while Jon adds the organ to complement Ritchie’s riff. This is just a great song including great solos by both Ritchie and Jon.
They then move into Stormbringer. The mix really works so you can hear Blackmore rip through the song. They make quick work of it despite 2 solos.
They stick with Stormbringer, playing The Gypsy which focuses on Ritchie and Ian’s playing. The music slows down some for Ritchie’s solo with Glenn playing some good bass in the background. The solo then speeds up as Blackmore turns in another great solo.
Lady Double Dealer is similar in sound to the last few. But that is not a bad thing as there are many little guitar fills when he’s not playing the main riff. It resumes the fast pace after the slower The Gypsy.
They return to Burn with Mistreated focusing on “DC and Rrrritchiiee Blackmorrrrre.” The latter starts with a solo intro for the slow-burn bluesy number. It begins a series of 4 songs over 10 minutes as Ritchie has a few extended solos. It continues the theme of heartbreak and betrayal begun in Lady Double Dealer. Coverdale and Hughes have some wails as the instruments speed up behind them, followed by another guitar solo. Then the focus is on some improve singing by Coverdale with minimal instrumentation. The instruments begin to build back in as the song begins to sound like his future band Whitesnake in their better days. He gets back to the song they are playing for the last 90 seconds.
They then move into Smoke on the Water featuring “Rrrrrrr. Blackmore” who plays from Black Night and Lazy among other pieces as the intro in an attempt to throw people off. Coverdale takes the first verse, and Hughes the second, adding a different flavor to it. Obviously neither of them is Ian Gillan. But the focus is the music. Ritchie pulls a solo out of the hat before hitting a familiar bit to keep things fresh and interesting. Both DC and Glenn sing on the third verse. After Jon’s solo, Hughes (I think) sings a part of some long song that just doesn’t seem to fit. It is an odd choice. They move into A Little Help from My Friends before sliding back into the actual song for the crescendo.
You Fool No One begins with a intro by Jon, and features solos by Ritchie “Magic Fingers” Blackmore and Ian “Four Skins” or “Foreskins” Paice as Hughes continues the oddity. It takes about 4 minutes until they get into vocals. There aren’t a whole lot of vocals, as it moves into a blistering guitar solo. It then slows down into a bluesy solo section. Then Ian begins his solo about 13 minutes into the piece. At the end of his solo they fittingly slide into The Mule.
Jon plays a number of little bits before Thus Spake Zarusthusra morphs into Space Truckin’ (though Hughes keeps saying Space Runnin’ for some reason). I’m not sure why he wants them to dance to the song, it isn’t really dance-able. About 3:30 into the song the familiar riff kicks in. The problem with the lyrics is that they seem more screamed than sung. But the instrumentation behind them is as solid as ever. The solo section features some back and forth between guitar and organ. They toss in Child in Time before a short bass solo. Then they play Gypsy Eyes for awhile including back & forth with guitar and vocals. And another bass solo before Jon plays some Gimme Some Lovin’. Are you getting the picture? There are some more crass calls for the audience to dance. Eventually they return to the main song.
The encore begins with Going Down a song that “needs your help.” It is a rock and blues standard written by Don Nix that was popularized by Freddie King and Jeff Beck. This fits well their tradition of playing older songs by other artists.
They then move into Highway Star, which probably has Coverdale’s weakest vocal performance of the night. Due to his lyrical changes, this is my least favorite rendition of this song. As the closing song, this is when Ritchie appears to take off the kid gloves and do some tricks with the guitar between playing a solo. Always the showman, he was giving the people their money’s worth. It then calms down for a few moments with Jon’s solo before cranking back up again.
The final track is a series of interviews. The first is David Coverdale talking about joining the band and writing the first album with the band. He also addresses how sudden fame changes things, and results in songs.
It then moves to Glenn Hughes retelling how he ended up in the band. He laments the title “heavy metal”. Then Ian talks about the Stormbringer album. The title song’s riff is adapted from Nix’s Going Down. He also talks about the problem with singles in the US market at the time.