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Posts Tagged ‘Ian Paice’


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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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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In the mid-90’s I hadn’t discovered the breadth of the internet. I didn’t have cable and was sort of in a bubble. I had purchased The Battle Rages On and enjoyed it tremendously but didn’t know Ritchie would soon leave Deep Purple and come up with another incarnation of Rainbow which would only produce one album. Thankfully, one of the concerts of the tour was recorded by Rockpalast and now has been released.

The album they were supporting, The Stranger in Us All, was a bit of a throwback thematically to the days of Dio. It was considerably darker than the Joe Lynn Turner era. The concert reflects that theme pulling largely from the album, the Dio era and some Deep Purple classics.

The concert opens with Spotlight Kid, a song that is probably about Ian Gillan and an appropriate way to begin since he was the reason Blackmore left Purple one last time. This was the most acrimonious and bridges have not been rebuilt as in the past (they were still on friendly terms in the late 70’s with Blackmore even asking him to front Rainbow after Dio left). This song shows that Blackmore is in top form and Doogie White is more than capable as a singer. The mix is a bit off, and you can not hear the keyboards very well. Of course we are here for Blackmore, not Paul Morris.

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It has been 30 years since Deep Purple reunited. I was a freshman in college and made the trek from Boston to Worcester to see them live. In all those years there have been no official albums from that tour. Now there is. In late 2013 the audio and video of one of their Australian shows was released. They had a stripped down show in terms of effects. The lasers would come later in the tour. Here the focus was on the music. And the music was great.

I bought the “box set” that had the 2 discs of the audio as well as the concert DVD along with a booklet. “Box set” is a bit of an overstatement. It is a normal CD case in which I have a hard time removing the CDs but the DVD seems to slide around a bit too free and easy. I’m hoping it doesn’t end up getting scratched.

While the packaging was disappointing, the concert itself did not disappoint. The mix seemed to favor Blackmore’s guitar and Ian’s singing over the other instruments. Blackmore seemed reinvigorated with the reunion. His sound on this concert is fatter due to the effects than I am used to it being. He was aggressive much of the night. I wouldn’t say these were his best solos, but he’s leaving nothing back. Ian Gillan had an uneven night as his voice seemed to have some rough spots.. This is part of what drove Ritchie crazy, Ian didn’t seem to take care of his money maker. At times he seemed to forget some the lyrics as well. He discovered effects too, and there are songs with lots of echo on his voice.

There are some differences between the 70’s edition of Deep Purple Mach II and this edition in addition to the technology. They seemed to up the tempo on many of the old songs. The solos were not as long either. As a result, they played far more songs than you’d find on any of their concert albums from the 70’s. They had 5 songs from the new album, Perfect Strangers, as well as some old standards taken mostly from In Rock and Machine Head. So there is something for everyone, and no one should be disappointed. This was a great concert.

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This is a good time to be a Deep Purple fan. A number of concert albums are being remixed and re-leased as part of their “Live Series”. Soon they will also release a DVD of the Perfect Strangers Tour in Syndey. The band didn’t really like making albums, and thrived on stage. There their musicianship and improvisational skills came to the fore making them a great live show. And those live releases became such an important part of their catalog. These releases capture the band at different phases of their career.

One of those re-releases is the concert in Copenhagen back in 1972, just before the release of their Machine Head album. The concert features a number of songs from that album, but not “Smoke on the Water” which had not unexpectedly “caught fire” yet.

The reasonably priced double disc set does include 3 songs from a later concert in NY (Hofstra University in ’73) that includes “Smoke on the Water” so fans will get their fix. But we see them still figuring out a play list that would become legendary by the time Made in Japan was recorded against their wishes (the record company forced the issue, and all parties benefited from that!). The album also includes nearly 6 minutes of interviews as the last track.

The mix was interesting. I have listened to the discs in my car, on my computer (with subwoofer system) and my iPod. The mix seems to favor the lower end: drums and bass. It was great to be able to appreciate Paice’s incredible drumming more easily. Many listeners will gain a greater appreciation for Roger Glover’s work on the bass. He plays better than many give him credit for playing.

It was frustrating, at times, for the lead instruments to not be as “out front” as I wanted. I wanted to hear more of Blackmore’s guitar and Lord’s organ. It wasn’t Blackmore’s best night, but he’s still better than the vast majority of guitarists.  Or perhaps I should say he started slowly because by mid-show he’s in classic form. Gillan is more talkative between songs, and during songs, than in any other concert recording I’ve heard aside from the BBC TV shows.

This is an excellent show, and deserves to be in a fan’s collection. It doesn’t match the heights of Made in Japan, but it is still an excellent concert reflecting a different period of their existence.

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In the 1980’s I owned a vinyl version of this release, an edited version of this release.  I used to hear Deep Purple’s Made In Japan thundering from my older brother’s room.  I thought nothing of it.  Then came MTV and I saw videos by Blackmore’s band Rainbow.  Soon I was listening to all the Deep Purple I could lay my hands on, especially the Mach II recordings.

This album is two concerts recorded live for the BBC.  The version I have includes the host introducing the band and the songs.  I like hearing some of the banter, though that may change after I listen a few more times.  On the second show there is some nut with a squeaky toy or something that you can hear between songs.  The concerts represent what was best and sometimes worst about early 70’s hard rock.  The music is raw, and the solos are long.  Some might say too long.  We’ll get there later.

The first concert is from about the time of the release of In Rock, the first album with Ian Gillan and Roger Glover.  The band was moving from progressive rock into hard rock.  The musical struggle between Ritchie Blackmore and Jon Lord had been won by Ritchie.  This concert is the transition period for the band- and it shows.  There are only 4 songs.  Two are from the new album- Speed King and Child in Time.  The other 2 are from their albums with Rod Evans and Nick Simper on vocals and bass- Wring that Neck and Mandrake Root.

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