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Posts Tagged ‘Roger Glover’


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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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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It is all MTV’s fault when you get down to it.

MTV began to air my sophomore year in high school.  Back then it was really about music, not all those pseudo-reality shows.  The local radio stations didn’t play Rainbow very much (Rainbow was more popular in Europe and Japan), so I saw them first there.  It was All Night Long (sadly, I think it was the sleezy girl that kept me watching at first), and Can’t Happen Here.  Soon I had just about everything Ritchie Blackmore played on (including Green Bullfrog with other great guitarists playing blues-rock).  Soon I discovered that my older brother had most of the albums.  No wonder the songs sounded vaguely familiar.

I didn’t go digital with most of my Blackmore collection.  Didn’t matter, my CD collection was stolen in a break-in.  After that I remember owning a best of collection.  Somehow it was misplaced during our recent cross country trip.  My new iPod needed some Rainbow, so I decided to go with Anthology with its focus on the the early years of the band.

The band began as Blackmore’s frustration with Deep Purple was reaching the breaking point.  A band named Elf opened for them on the Stormbringer tour.  Ritchie was impressed enough to use the band, fronted by Ronnie James Dio, for his solo album which morphed into a band .  Over the years, the line up changed with every album but Blackmore was the reason the band existed.

the late Ronnie James Dio

Anthology kicks off with 16th Century Greensleeves.  It builds off of the old song Greeensleeves.  Blackmore’s love for classical music would often show itself in songs and solos.  The song is representative of the Dio-years.  His obsession with mythology and mysticism would outlast his years with Rainbow.  It was not about occultism so much as the struggle between good and evil.  Of course, apart from Christ the outcome is altogether uncertain.  Together, Blackmore and Dio would lay the ground work for heavy metal.  Blackmore would inspire a legion of guitarists, and Dio another legion of lyricists.

“Someone screaming my name, come and make me holy again.”  Man on the Silver Mountain

The theme continues on The Temple of the King and Man on the Silver Mountain.  Thankfully they did not use any of the live versions of the latter, with Dio screaming “we’re all the man”.  But the latter is a classic Blackmore song that persisted in concert until the end.  The last cut from Blackmore’s Rainbow is an old Yardbird’s song Still I’m Sad.  It is done as an aggressive instrumental as Ritchie lets loose.   This is a great song, and I really enjoyed the live versions.

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