REVIEW: Deep Purple – Listen, Learn, Read On (6 CD box set)

In ages past when spells were cast

In a time of men and steel

When a man was taught no special thing

It was all done by feel

So, listen

So, learn

So, read on….

PURPLE BOX FRONT

DEEP PURPLE – Listen, Learn, Read On (6 CD box set, 2002)  (currently $298 on amazon.ca)

I recently listened to this box set again over the course of two weekends. Delving into the gorgeous box, 6 CDs, 120 pages of text, pictures, and credits, I felt fully immersed in a Purple world. Of all the Deep Purple box sets, and there are a lot of them, this one truly is a must. Covering the years of Deep Purple’s first era (1968-1976) plus surprises, there has never been a more comprehensive set of rarities and album cuts by this band.

Starting off with solo tracks by each member of the first four versions of Deep Purple, I never had any of these tracks before, except for the one by Episode Six. I was really impressed with The Outlaws’ (featuring Blackmore) version of “Keep A Knocking”. It was also great to finally have “Medusa” by Trapeze.

After a handful of very 60’s tracks by Deep Purple Mk I, the set really begins. Ian Gillan and Roger Glover helped create an entire new beast. Before too long we’re immersed in demos, rare live versions, remasters, outtakes and the odd album cut. My only complaint was that “Speed King” is not included in its album version, as I think it is superior to the two versions included. Suitable to this version of Purple, disc three kicks off with the 30 minute version of “Mandrake Root” from the 1970 Stockholm concert. Through Fireball, Machine Head, and Who Do We Think We Are, you can hear the band grow, experiment, and eventually stagnate. However, by the end of disc 4, David Coverdale and Glenn Hughes are on board. The band was revitalized with the Burn album, but had not changed in their jamming tendencies. Disc five contains the 30 minute version of “Space Truckin'” from the Gaumont, and an unreleased 12 minute version of “Mistreated”, as well as an 18 minute version of “You Fool No One”.

The final disc contains some then-unreleased quad mixes from Stormbringer (now available in a surround sound DVD) and the final recordings of the band. Tommy Bolin replaces Blackmore, and there is material here from his first rehearsals (from the Days May Come CD). By the time the Last Concert In Japan material hits the speakers, you are overwhelmed and exhausted by the majesty of Deep Purple. Simon Robinson wisely ended the set with a remastered verion of “You Keep On Moving”.

Robinson’s liner notes are, of course, detailed and exemplary. It will take you as longer to finish them than it will to listen to this monstrous set.  Tracklist is below, for your perusal and analysis.  Click the gallery and enlarge.

5/5 stars. The buck stops here, this is the one.

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