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Posts Tagged ‘Deep Purple’


I Image result for the dudewasn’t planning on doing an Eagles record next. But I watched The History of the Eagles. I’m almost afraid to put an Eagles’ album on here. The scene when the Dude is in the taxi declaring his hate for the Eagles is quite hilarious. They were popular, almost too popular when they imploded after the tour for The Long Run.

It was tempting to list Hotel California. It has some great songs on it like Life on the Fast Lane. The famous riff was …. an exercise Walsh did that the other guys heard and said, “What’s that?!”. Yes, another hit song derived from an exercise (like Dust in the Wind and Space Truckin’). Life sure is weird. It also has Victim of Love which Felder really wanted to sing. But when you have “Golden Throat” Henley … that just makes more sense.

The Eagles The Long Run.jpgDespite the fact that it took them 18 months to produce The Long Run, in part due to being burned out and in part due to snorting too much cocaine, I think it is a better album than the illustrious Hotel California. I never cared what critics thought.

The first song, The Long Run, was almost prophetic. Would their relationships make it in the long run? Certainly didn’t look like it as personal tensions tore them apart. Henley claims the song was about the new music that had emerged. The Eagles were considered dinosaurs, but whose music would last? While the band broke up, their music survive on the new Classic Rock radio format.

Things slowed down for the ballad I Can’t Tell You Why. It is a stripped down song with a nice little guitar run in it. Timothy B. Schmit, who had just joined the band, brought the partially written song with him. He sang the completed song, having a hit before his dream melted away from him.

But it gets back to upbeat with the Joe Walsh song from The Warriors, In the City. Like the movie, it was a bleak sort of view of the city. It had classic Eagles harmonies to go with Joe’s classic guitar sound.

DImage result for the eaglesisco Strangler is a strange song musically. It is guitar driven, but not a typical Eagles song. It is about our quest for recognition, to be desired, which meets a sad end in the hands of a serial killer. Felder is reputed to have written it using a disco beat despite the fact that the band disliked this new style. Perhaps they really thought disco would kill rock music.

It is a return to ballads for the King of Hollywood. Not their best song.

Back to rock with side 2’s first song and hit, Heartache Tonight. It has the sound of an old J. Geils blues romp. It is a fun sounding song about the fact that disappointment seems to find us.

Then the guitar driven Those Shoes. Almost like Steve Martin’s cruel shoes put to music. But not quite. Those shoes are the kind you go out in, and make mistakes in. Always liked this song.

Teenage Jail is not a very memorable song but the guitar part was interesting. This would be one of those which disappointed the critics.

It is another party song throw away with The Greeks Don’t Want No Freaks. The chord progression is interesting and the lyrics playful but …

The album closes with the ballad The Sad Cafe. Plenty of classic harmonies around Henley’s vocals. It is this albums version of The Last Resort.

I’ve got memories of listening to this album on my Sony Walkman in the back of the car while on a college campus visit. I was visiting Manhattanville College. It was a women’s only college that the Kennedy girls when to (supposedly) that went co-ed. I had a good scholarship and was accepted into a 6-year law degree program with NY State law school. I didn’t accept it. Sometimes I wonder what would have happened if I did. Would I have spent too much time at the pub on campus (at the time the drinking age in NY was 19 and I would turn 19 a few short months into my college experience). So much better than posing as Seth Rothstein on a fake ID in Boston. But would I have dated Liz if I’d gone that far from home? Would I turn into a miserable lawyer who drinks too much whiskey and thinks its romantic to have the occasional cigarette (this is how I pictured my future at the time minus the misery)?

During my time between pastorates, when I was under-employed and miserable, I wondered about that decision. But I was where I needed to be. Sometimes things fall apart, but it’s okay. The Eagles fell apart after this album, but that was alright.

 

 

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Time to shift to the 70’s in looking at my favorite albums.

We also shift to what is probably my favorite band over the years. And my favorite incarnation of the band: Mach II.

Deep Purple was a bit of a progressive band that covered a few songs for singles as they pumped out 3 albums quickly in the 60’s. They had some initial success in the U.S. with Hush.

But then Ritchie Blackmore heard Page’s new band, Led Zeppelin, and knew it was time to make a change if they were to compete. Ian Gillan, who had turned them down previously, accepted this time. And he brought Roger Glover with him to be the new bassist.

In Rock was Ritchie’s statement with the British edition beginning with a frenzied guitar piece. The follow up, Fireball, had some hard rock on it but it was not as consistent. Gillan really liked it. Even early on it seemed those two men struggled for control. Jon Lord had conceded to Blackmore but Gillan never would. But I get ahead of myself.

Machine Head album cover.jpgMachine Head was sort of the album that broke it all wide open for Deep Purple. This album would form the core of their live shows until Gillan left the band. While Smoke on the Water, with its famous riff, is the most well-known, Highway Star and Space Trucking still get plenty of airplay. Alice Cooper seems to play the later on his radio show pretty frequently. This is an album with no bad songs, in my estimation. I like them all. The album is too short, about 36 minutes if I remember correctly. It needed another song. It had one, but Ritchie vetoed When a Blind Man Cries. Gillan loved the song and it ended up as the B-side of a single. After Blackmore’s departure during The Battle Rages On tour, it would join the setlist from time to time.

Highway Star was initially written on a whim, or should I say a request from a reporter. He asked them how they write a song. They wrote one in the van on the way to a gig. Early versions have different lyrics. Gillan’s lyrics still aren’t anything to write home about, but his voice and the music is what matters. It begins with the bass and Ritchie hitting power chords. Paice begins to pound those drums. Then Gillan’s scream echoes in a classic intro.

Blackmore didn’t write out solos ahead of time. But this time he did. And it was worth it! He put together one of the greatest solos recorded. Making it even better was the interplay with Jon Lord’s organ, one of the signatures of the Deep Purple sound. It would be their standard opener for many a tour with Gillan. During the Coverdale years it was removed from the set.

The albums slows from Highway Star‘s frenetic pace with a love song of sorts- Maybe I’m a Leo. It starts with a drum roll and Ritchie playing a blues riff. Honestly, I’m not exactly sure what this song is about. Perhaps cowardice with the “Maybe I’m a Leo but I ain’t a lion.” Still a good song. The organ hangs in the background thru most of the song with the focus on guitar, drums and vocals. This is a slower solo that is more about feel than technique. A live version of the song shows up on the In Concert album, featuring two album releases recorded live for the BBC.

The next song begins with even more drums, a mini-solo of sorts before Ritchie tears it up. Pictures of Home is a great song. It doesn’t show up in any of the live albums with Blackmore, but does after Morse took over. That is unfortunate. One of his weaknesses is his technical memory. He could only fit so many songs in his head, I think, and therefore they didn’t do as many songs or play as long as Led Zeppelin would. But they did have the long improvisational stretches. But I digress.  “I’m alone here, with emptiness, eagles and snow, unfriendliness chilling my body, and screaming out pictures of home.” Lord’s organ is more prominent in this song. RB’s riff is good though. Neither Ian is subdued in this song.

The first single off the album, Never Before, is next. It is a love lost song, and the main character is devastated. It is bluesy. It is good. But it wasn’t the best song off the album and it didn’t really go anywhere. Of course, neither did Smoke of the Water when it was initially released. It starts with Ian’s drums, again. Ritichie plays some blues before getting into the riff. Lord’s organ is simmering in the background during that mini-solo. Another drum roll, and the riff and lyrics begin: “Somebody, somebody, come to my side. I’m tired, I’m crying, I’m sick inside. Help me now, please my friend. I’ve never felt this bad before, never before…” This song, like Leo was on the In Concert album and then wasn’t played again until Morse took over on guitar.

These three songs share that distinction of not being part of the normal set list until Morse took over. Odd that the 3 less known songs on this album are all together, and on side 1. that is usually where you put your best songs.

The second side is only 3 songs long, but 3 incredible songs. The first is the signature song, Smoke on the Water, detailing the events of the fire that burned down the concert venue where they were set to record the album in Montreaux. Similar to Highway Star, it slowly adds in the instruments. Ritchie is first playing the iconic riff, Roger enters, then Paice. The solos are very good, but not the best on this album.

Lazy is best known for Ritchie’s guitar work but there is some harmonica in there too. His solos are among his most well-known. Lazy often shows up in the list of songs with the best guitar solos. The live version on Made in Japan is astounding, and different from most other versions as it begins with Jon destroying his organ. Or so it seems. Gillan seems to revisit his Catholic upbringing as the lyrics seem influenced by Proverbs and its warnings about the sluggard. Later live versions would use the song for Ian’s drum solo. After the reunion in 1984, the song would become more efficient.

The last song begins with another famous Blackmore riff. It came from a thumb exercise on the low E. Livgren would turn a finger-picking exercise into Dust in the Wind. Ritchie turned this into Space Trucking. They both came up with memorable songs. Part hard rock and part boogie this live staple would frequently be stretched out to over 20 minutes as it was mashed with instrumental sections from Mandrake Root.

There it is, a nearly perfect album in terms of songs anyway. The production was much better than some of their earlier albums, but still wasn’t as good as one would hope. Even for it’s time. But these songs…. this is the best Deep Purple album. Period. The Behind the Music episode on this album is very interesting.

This album wasn’t a hit at first. Those live versions on Made in Japan, originally slated as a Japan-only release to appease the record company were magic. The band realized this was worth releasing. People entranced by the album, went back to Machine Head.

It was a little too late though. The constant touring which helped make such amazing live performances, also wore down the members and exacerbated the tensions between Ritchie and Ian. A promising future would burn to the ground instead. The management, who wanted to maximize the profit ended up shorting themselves in the long run, assuming the two alpha dogs could co-exist. Not so sure about that. But they made some great albums and this is the best of them.

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I was a reluctant Led Zeppelin fan.

I had a resistance to popular music, and everyone loved Zeppelin. They were a particular fav of the potheads. This did not endear them to me. And the radio played Stairway to Heaven to death. While it commonly wins those most popular song polls on classic rock radio, it is not my favorite.

Eventually I succumbed.

They released their first two albums in the 60’s. Both were in 1969. Like many bands in that era, their record companies kept demanding they go in the studio to make records. These two albums had the imaginative titles Led Zeppelin I and Led Zeppelin II. The music wasn’t creative either- just great blues-rock.

It was hard to choose which album to pick to represent them in the 60’s. LZ I had lots of love songs. LZ II had a bunch of sex songs. Tie goes to the clean album. It was released while they were already touring the U.S.. It would peak at #10 on the U.S. charts.

Of the 9 songs, 3 are under 3 minutes. 4 of the remaining songs are over 6 minutes. We see the beginnings of the excess that would mark rock music in the 70’s.

Good Times, Bad Times is our introduction to the band that was originally called The New Yardbirds. It is a song about love lost, betrayed, despite the claim “I still don’t seem to care.” One of those songs under 3 minutes it still finds time for an excellent solo by Page, and a nice bass run after the chorus. This is one of their attempts for a hit single, but it is a great way to start an album.

The tables are turned with Babe I’m Gonna Leave You, one of those songs over 6 minutes long. Page uses the acoustic guitar but the song still rocks, with crescendos featuring Plant screaming. It would be vocals like this which prompted Blackmore to realize Deep Purple needed a new vocalist that could keep up with the likes of Robert Plant. Goodbye Rod Evans; hello Ian Gillan.

For the next 6+ minutes we get to enjoy You Shook Me. It features Page’s distorted blues lines, and Plant on echo as they tear up an old blues number. Page’s guitar also slides in and out with fills and runs.

A colour photograph of Robert Plant with microphone and Jimmy Page with a double necked guitar performing on stage.As if that wasn’t enough, the next song is Dazed and Confused. It is simply one of their best songs which Jones laying down the heavy bass line, Bonham tossing in drum lines like a lead guitarist, Plant wailing and Page challenging sonic limitations with his guitar. This is an epic song.

Page breaks out the acoustic again for Your Time is Gonna Come, while Bonham pounds the drums. Plant is warning an ex-lover that what comes around goes around. Usually the rest of band doesn’t sing, but here they seem to join a chorus. Not quite the harmony of the Beatles. This is one of the few average songs on this album.

Page is featured on the short acoustic number Black Mountain Side.

Things get revved up though with Communication Breakdown featuring Page’s frenetic riff. Plant is wailing about relational difficulties that are driving him insane with the last of the short numbers.

I Can’t Quit You Baby is 4 minutes of blues, guitar effects and Bonham drums laying down the beat. The album ends with 8 minutes of How Many More Times as Plant laments over Page’s driving rhythm. It isn’t When the Levee Breaks, but it is still good.

This was a sign of good things to come for Led Zeppelin. They would become the biggest band in the world, known for 4 hour long shows before Bruce ever did it. But the constant touring would take its toll on the band with drug and alcohol problems bringing an end to the music before the audience was ready. This album remains one of the best albums of the 60’s, and one of my favorites.

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Back to the 60’s!

Still in the 60’s.

TheDoorsTheDoorsalbumcover.jpgOne of the CavBrothers listened to The Doors. Eventually I borrowed the compilation, Dark Scenes Inside the Gold Mine. I was hooked. The Doors had a unique sound that clicked with me. As a teenager I’d come home from school, put them on and take a nap. I read Sugarman’s biography of Morrison, No One Gets Out of Here Alive, a 3 or 4 times while in high school and college. Even though he’d been dead for over a decade, Morrison’s magnetism pulled me in. Disturbed and prone to excess, he lived a life this messed up teenager wanted to live (and I’m not glad I didn’t). I still like their music, particularly the interplay between Manzarek’s organ (often invoking the sounds of an amusement park) and Krieger’s guitar. It is a common formula for me, evidenced by my love for Deep Purple because of Blackmore and Lord. Morrison was not as good as a singer as Gillan, but he was obviously a much better lyricist.

I didn’t see The Doors when it came out in 1991. I’m not sure why. Val Kilmer was one of my favorite actors, and Meg Ryan one of my favorite actresses. It came out “too late”, after I’d become a Christian and no longer attracted to Morrison’s excess. I started to watch it not too long ago. Kilmer did an incredible job. The problem, from my perspective, was Oliver Stone. His manner of storytelling got in the way.

A few years ago I bought their first album, The Doors, during one of those Amazon Black Friday deals. It has held up amazingly well. For me, that is still their best album. The others were a bit inconsistent due to the pressure to produce. My next favorite would be the final album, the moody L.A. Woman.

The album begins with a classic, but all too short, introduction to the band- Break On Through (to the Other Side). It remains one of their better songs. It was released as their first single, but was unsuccessful. The “she gets high” line was removed from the single thinking it would discourage radio play. Densmore has been into bossa nova music and used a bossa nova rhythm for the song. With Krieger’s Paul Butterfield-influenced guitar and Manzarek’s Ray Charles-influenced keyboards it made for a very interesting mix behind Morrison’s psychedelic lyrics. It just all works beautifully. The original version would later become a staple of classic rock radio.

Next is the very different Soul Kitchen. It is a Morrison version of a love song. Then things get weird with The Crystal Ship. They move into 20th Century Fox about the modern woman before one of the two covers, The Alabama Song (Whiskey Bar). Originally part of an opera, they changed some of the lyrics. They would not be the last band to cover this song, and I’m not sure why. This is one of the weakest songs on the album.

But the next song is the one that made them famous: Light My Fire. It is their most famous song. A shortened version was released as a single. This was the song that got them banned from The Ed Sullivan Show after they agreed to change the line “girl we couldn’t get much higher”, but then Morrison played it anyway. They didn’t have enough material so Morrison encouraged other band members to write some songs. Robby Krieger wrote this one. Clocking in over 7 minutes it contains some great extended instrumental sections.

The next song is another cover, Back Door Man. This is a reference to the person you cheat with, having to sneak in and out of the back door. It is an old blues standard. But it fits Morrison’s philandering ways. It works much better than the other cover.

Like the first side, you hit a trio of lesser songs: I Looked at You, End of the Night and Take it As it Comes. These are not bad songs, but can’t match the peaks of the beginning, middle and the end. Literally, The End which builds tension for 10 minutes. Morrison was essentially stream of consciousness moving through the apparent pain of his childhood. At one point he claimed it was about the end of childhood. It is dark. It is strange. It climaxes in oedipus fury. Coppola featured the song in Apocalypse Now. It is a dark masterpiece.

This is quintessential Doors. Quintessential rock ‘n’ roll. It isn’t for everyone but I still appreciate the disturbed genius of this album. It wouldn’t be the last time I appreciated disturbed genius.

 

 

 

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Continuing with my favorites from the 60’s series…

ILater North American releasen high school I was a big Jimi Hendrix fan. He was the first great guitarist I listened to. I read one of his biographies, ‘Scuse Me While I Kiss the Sky, multiple times. My favorite album of his at the time was Are You Experienced?, the one that started it all.

The Jimi Hendrix Experience was one of the first great power trios. It put the focus on Jimi’s innovative style of playing guitar.This doesn’t mean the other members were slouches. Noel and Mitch were excellent musicians in their own right, able to to complement Jimi. They just weren’t well-known names like Ginger Baker and Jack Bruce when Cream was formed. Noel was actually a guitarist.

What Ritchie Blackmore appreciated about Hendrix was that he was always searching for the right note. He pushed the boundaries. And when he found that note it was amazing.

This goes back to your idea of what a musician, particularly a lead guitarist, is supposed to do. Some people want a band to perfectly reproduce their music live. If you listen to Matthias Jabs of the Scorpions, you wonder if he ever misses a note. But the reason I love live music is the improvisation. That is probably why I love Blackmore so much. It is a reflection of my personality. Blackmore often begins and ends his solos with “standard” solos, phrases from the studio recordings, and then improvises. He’s on the tightrope.

That was Hendrix too.

One of the weird things about the album is that the title track is the last one on both the U.K. and U.S. versions. The U.K. version included Red House, Remember (which I don’t remember hearing- perhaps it wasn’t memorable) and Can You See Me. The U.S. versions included Hey Joe and The Wind Cries Mary instead. Red House shows up on other collections so Americans could enjoy this great blues rock number. It was frequently played on the radio here in the States. It is a song that has stuck with me.

Purple Haze is one of his songs most commonly played on classic rock stations. It is quintessential Experience. Oddly enough, it was not on the original U.K. release. That opening riff gets your attention and sets the tone. According to Noel, Jimi hadn’t taken LSD yet. Jimi said it was about a dream he had. But that’s not important now. The point is the music, and this is a song full of hooks and great guitar. The psychedelic style helps create some of the misheard lyrics, like “‘scuse me while I kiss this guy.”

The mood changes slightly with Manic Depression which supposedly isn’t about bipolar disorder. It is essentially about not being able to get what you want. Perhaps it is about Jimi’s inability, even his, to produce the sounds in his head expressing (I know what I want, but I just don’t know, how to go about getting it). It has the feel and timing of a jazz song more than a rock song. As a teen who seemed to be on the outside looking in, this song captured some of how I felt.

Hey Joe is a cover of a oft-covered blues song by Billy Roberts. Deep Purple also did a version of this song. This is still the standard version of the song for many of us. Straight up blues.

A black and white photograph of three men, one is sitting on the floor.They go back to psychedelic with Love or Confusion, May This Be Love, and I Don’t Live Today. The tempo is faster, and the guitar work is great. Sadly these are all pop songs too. They were made to be played on the radio. The last song on the side is the longest at 3:55. Purple Haze is an all too short 2:45. You are left wanting more, especially from a guitarist this good. I had the same feeling with the first Van Halen album. The songs really didn’t have extended solos, which is precisely what I want, but both albums made their mark. Perhaps it was simply an issue of money. The budget for this introductory album was small, and studio time was at a premium. It takes time and money to put together longer songs.

The rest of the album is also full of songs under 4 minutes with the exception of Third Stone from the Sun, which is 6:40 of Jimi using feedback and pedals for a strong psychedelic feel. But it starts with Jimi’s nod to Bob Dylan in The Wind Cries Mary. It isn’t a Dylan song, but you’d swear it was.

Back to fast-paced rock and roll with Fire about passion. This is something any teenager can identify with. His guitar work mirrors the urgency.

After Third Rock, is the song that starts the U.K. release, Foxy Lady. This is a classic guitar song about an attractive woman with attitude. This another one of the songs on this release that has stood the test of time despite the ‘dated’ style.

The album ends with the title track. The rhythm, bass and drum tracks were backwards, which Mitch reportedly hated trying to do live. It added to that psychedelic feel.

This was a ground-breaking album that broke a ground-breaking artist. There really isn’t a bad track on this album. The only weakness is that you want longer solos, to hear more of this incredible guitarist.

After my collection was stolen in the late 90’s I never replaced this album. Putting this together makes me think it is time to do so.

 

 

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It started with an ad in Discipleship Magazine. I was a relatively young Christian and noticed the ad from Ligonier Ministries for a free copy of R.C. Sproul’s Holiness of God series on VHS. Yes, this was the late 80’s.

I really didn’t know what to expect. My only experience with “Reformed Theology” was “Reformed” or Liberal Judaism. I was still a bit frightened of that word ‘holiness’. As many discovered, it was a great series. I began to buy books and tape series for my cassette player in the car. R.C. taught me a whole lot of theology before I went to seminary. He didn’t just introduce me to Reformed Theology but also (along with John Piper) to the Puritans and Jonathan Edwards.

When I was looking at seminaries the ad for RTS caught my eye. Jackson, MS? Me? Perhaps it was too many viewings of Mississippi Burning on the Movie Channel, but I didn’t see this Yankee doing well in Jackson, MS.

Later there was a new ad for a new campus with R.C. as one of the professors. I could handle Orlando. I was looking to get away from the snow. When I got information from RTS they offered a prospective student offer that included free admission to the 1991 National Conference in Orlando. So I made a call, booked a flight and discovered Orlando was the place for me. Somehow at one session I ended up in the front row talking to Vesta.

While I was there I had R.C. for Systematic Theology III (Christology, Soteriology and Eschatology) and a seminar on The Sermons of Jonathan Edwards. For one class, John Gerster was in town and led our discussion for his former pupil. Most of the time, there was Vesta sitting in the back with his soda while R.C. taught.

It was not all bliss. There were some conflicts on campus. It was a little like Corinth at times. It was mostly the students, but it was apparently there was some friction in the faculty. Somehow I didn’t get very caught up in that (I’m often loyal to a fault).

After seminary I ended up working for Ligonier Ministries. I was in the phone room during the era when they wanted seminary trained people answering the phone to answer theological questions as well as take orders. In many ways it was a great time. I worked with some people I knew from seminary, and some other great folks. I got to travel to Memphis, Atlanta, Anaheim, St. Louis and Detroit to work conferences. I have fond memories of frisbee golf, a rotating restaurant in St. Louis, meeting John Piper, sharing an elevator with R.C. and going to the occasional taping. R.C. would warm up the crowd with baseball trivia. Before they built the studio on site, they recorded at Greg Rike Studios where I discovered the signatures of Deep Purple’s members since they recorded Slaves and Masters there.

I had the privilege of writing some articles and reviews for Tabletalk Magazine while I was there. I also had the privilege of preaching at the chapel for the 25th anniversary of Ligonier Ministries.

Nothing lasts forever. I wanted to be in pastoral ministry. I decided to go to seminary for a Masters in Counseling to increase my skill set. Having recently joined a PCA church, I came under care of the Central FL Presbytery. This was the meeting when R.C. requested to “labor outside of bounds” for the new church called St. Andrews. It was a politically charged meeting due to some controversial statements and the fact that he wasn’t physically present.

Shortly thereafter there was a change in philosophy regarding my job description. I had reservations but didn’t get to find out how it would go as I was laid off that afternoon. I’d made the wrong guy angry (not R.C.).

R.C. was very personable, but not very accessible. Keep in mind, I was nobody. Still am. He was a very busy man and I think he still worked at the golf club at the time. It can be hard to meet your heroes. He was a man who needed Jesus, just like me. The sanctifying grace of God was at work in R.C.. Years later I discovered that he and the other professor had reconciled and did some work together. The last time I saw him I wondered if he would recognize me. There was no “hey, Steve” but that’s okay. I was not an important person in his life. He was already on oxygen and likely distracted with his own limitations.

If you listen to his sermons and audio series you’ll learn a lot of theology, and a lot about his life. Perhaps that is one reason I use personal illustrations. There are some issues I disagree with R.C. on, like apologetics. But on the main issues we are in sync.

The church owes him a great debt. He was one of the main figures in the Chicago Statement on Inerrancy. He made theology accessible to ordinary people. He was one of the key figures in the revival of Calvinism and Reformed Theology in the American church. He was greatly used by God.

I owe R.C. a great debt. I’m trying to pay it forward like I should.

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Live in Stuttgart 1993 is one of the Deep Purple archive re-releases. It was originally part of the 4 concert Live in Europe release that captured Ritchie Blackmore’s final concerts as a member of the band on their 25th anniversary tour. The band had begun working on their new album, when the record company wanted to sack Joe Lynn Turner and bring back Ian Gillan for the anniversary. Blackmore didn’t agree and it took a quarter of a million dollars to get him to buy in. But it didn’t last long. The album they released, The Battle Rages On, is an excellent contribution to their catalog in my opinion. But the differences of opinion were just too big. Blackmore decided he’d had enough.

This concert is near the end of the string performed with Ritchie, and he is in fine form (for the most part). This is yet another excellent concert release. The set list for this 25th anniversary tour for the Mach II line up is different, and that isn’t just because of the new material. They removed a few old standards, like Strange Kind of Woman, and inserted a few other songs including the questionable choice of Anyone’s Daughter. Surely they could have found a better song than this country-ish song to represent the Fireball album (which Gillan loved and Blackmore didn’t). This is probably evidence of the shift in control that Blackmore noticed and didn’t quite appreciate. Some songs are just moved, like Black Night shifting to the 2nd song instead of being part of the encore.

The highlights of this concert include the new material, particularly Anya with some extended solos by the temperamental guitarist. Space Trucking was also transformed into a pretty good medley of songs. The turmoil in the band produces a great show as Blackmore feeds off of the negative energy.

The low lights would be that nothing was included from the Mach I line up. It would have been  great to hear a short version of Hard Road (Wring that Neck) for Mandrake Root or instance. Nothing from House of Blue Light makes the cut either. Ian’s between song banter is centered on a big soccer match (I think) going on that night. There are few song introductions like on Come Hell or High Water, now released as Live in Birmingham (with Ritchie not coming on stage until the camera man gets far away). The bigger issues are that Gillan’s voice sounds harsh at times and you can’t really hear the bass often (I no longer have a stereo system so that may be the problem). At times Gillan forgets lyrics which is one of those things that probably drove Ritchie crazy.

Highway Star opens the concert, as usual. It is good, but Blackmore’s first solo is not up to his usual standards. The second is better as he seems to be warming up. After Black Night they play Talkin’ About Love one of the new songs. Oddly the guitar mostly drops out on the 2nd half of each verse. But it still has an interesting interplay between Lord’s organ and Ritchie’s guitar. After some nonsensical ramblings by Ian they rip into Twist in the Tale from the new album. The rendition of Perfect Strangers is solid, and lacks the echo effects on Ian’s voice that was common in the 80’s concerts. His voice does sound better on as the concert goes on, and this is one in which he sounds particularly good. (If I remember correctly, this was one of the riffs Ritchie had been working on for Rainbow that found a good home on the first reunion album.)

What follows is a different version of The Mule than you’ve probably heard. There are no vocals on this shortened version. Its solo bears some resemblance to Difficult to Cure at points.  It does not culminate in a drum solo like on so many other old concert CDs. It does move into Difficult to Cure though. This sets the stage for Lord’s classical-filled solo that also has some funk to it. It is an interesting solo but seems to lack cohesion. Next is Knocking at Your Back Door with a short bass solo by Roger at the beginning. Jon and Ritchie trade solos after the second and third verses. Again Ian’s voice holds up well in a song that has some demanding parts.

The shift to Anyone’s Daughter just sounds strange in light of the songs that came before it. And those that follow it. It sticks out like a sore thumb to me. It does connect with the previous song in terms of theme: sexual immorality (thankfully not many of their songs touch this subject). The bright point, I guess, is the lack of distortion on Ritchie’s guitar. He plays it fairly clean for the song.

They enter the “anti-war” section (according to Ian’s comments in Birmingham) with Child in Time, the new song Anya in which Ritchie has his best solo for the concert, and The Battle Rages On. Too bad they didn’t have time to squeeze in Under the Gun as well. But this is a very good  portion of the concert.

Then they dig back to one of the old standards with Lazy. This is different than usual because this time it features Ian’s drum solo. It is fast paced and led by one of Blackmore’s signature solos. After the song Ritchie plays part of what will become Hall of the Mountain King on the next Rainbow album. It is a a glimpse of what is to come for him, sounding like a throwback to the Dio days with a medieval feel. It was the direction he wanted to go musically and the rest of the band wasn’t interested. This sets up the Space Truckin’ medley which included Woman from Tokyo and Paint It Black. Paint it Black didn’t sound as good as Woman from Tokyo. The real problem was Gillan’s vocals. At times they were indecipherable. It just didn’t work. In the Birmingham show it was part of the Smoke on the Water medley. Here Smoke on the Water is the final song. This medley ends the regular part of the show.

The encore starts with Speed King. It is a good rendition of the song the a the riff from Burn thrown in for good measure. Technically, Hush is a song from the Mach I unit but they did a new version in the 80’s. This is the 2nd song of the encore, and has the most forgotten lyrics, with Gillan making the best of a bad situation. They close with the song most fans have been waiting for, Smoke on the Water. It starts with a mellow solo based on the famous riff before letting loose. At one point Gillan is really off, and makes note of how horrible that sounded.

This concert shows a few things:

  1. Blackmore still had the skills that made him famous. Overall his playing is great, and his creativity stills shines through. At times he did settle for speed, but there are still plenty of pieces that demonstrate his skill.
  2. Gillan’s skills, on the other hand, were in decline already. The voice goes faster than the fingers and Gillan’s range was decreasing. Some of this was age, and some from not taking care of his voice.

I hate to beat a dead horse, but Deep Purple was better with Blackmore without Gillan than with Gillan and without Blackmore. They lost the creative spark of the band. Things were less tense, most definitely, but also less exciting. This concert makes the end of an era, essentially the end of my favorite band. Some of the material with Steve Morse is good, but it just isn’t the same. Ritchie would only do one more rock album before falling completely under the spell of Candice and medieval folk music. But Blackmore finally found happiness as he and has been with her and played with her for nearly 20 years which is the longest he’s ever done that. This concert is an appropriate ending because it reveals some of why the Mach II lineup could not coexist.

This is another great concert from Deep Purple. With the “newer” material it does deserve to be in any fan’s collection. That new material is great material with some exceptional solos.

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