How many live albums are there from the Machine Head tour in ’72? I lost count, and I don’t really care. I’ll buy ’em all! Copenhagen 1972 represents Purple at their best, in their prime, playing their best songs. The difference is (there always is a difference) is that this is a particularly pummelling Purple potluck. As awesome as they were in ’72, it’s rare to hear them play as ferociously as you will here! This set was previously released by Sonic Zoom as Live in Denmark ’72 in 2002, but technology is constantly improving and it has been given a subtle sonic upgrade. With restored master tapes, the 2013 release is the definitive one, not to mention it has four bonus tracks over the previous Live in Denmark ’72. These Sonic Zoom discs seem to be re-released periodically, but these versions from the Deep Purple (Overseas) Live Series are in all cases the ones to own.
“We got the telly here tonight, so we got to be good.” That explains how this show was recorded so well. The clown prince Ian Gillan is a dry unorthodox frontman when it comes to banter, and that’s why we love him so. “Highway Star” herein is one of the best versions of the song you will ever find. The non-album single “Strange Kind of Woman” follows, extended with Blackmore and Gillan’s interplay. Behind them, a constant presence, is the growl of Jon Lord’s Hammond. What a beast! Lord always tended to improvise on his intro to “Child In Time”, lending it different flavours every time it was played. The Copenhagen ’72 version has its own personality. There is a delightful quieter middle section where Jon gets to have some jazzy fun. Drummer Ian Paice gets his moment on “The Mule”, one of Purple’s most progressive rock moments from 1971’s Fireball. Paice, being outstanding through the whole concert, dominates this one into submission. It is remarkable how well recorded these drums are. Glover’s bass too, which has a shining spot in the mix. “Lazy” smokes just as hot, but it is “Space Truckin'” that has the honour of being stretched out for over 20 minutes. With the many live versions of “Space Truckin'” out there, I wonder how many sheer hours of this song that I own? This one is unique in its own right.
The show continues on CD 2, with “a little bit of fun” called “Fireball”. With an extended intro I haven’t heard anywhere else before, this version of “Fireball” kills it. It’s immediately followed by “Lucille” which was a periodic Deep Purple encore back then. Simply incendiary, over the top, and blazing fast. The last song of the show is the old single “Black Night”: that’s right, no “Smoke on the Water”! I guess they just didn’t play it that night. Machine Head wouldn’t be out for another three weeks.
CD 2 has four bonus tracks on top of this. The aforementioned “Smoke” along with more versions of “Strange Kind of Woman” and “Space Truckin'” are included, from New York in ’73. This version of “Strange Kind of Woman” is unusually funky; more like the Deep Purple Mk III that would emerge in 1974. “Smoke” is still fresh, but “Space Truckin'” surprises by being only half the length of the version on CD 1. It’s interesting to hear how the songs evolve from year to year.
The final bonus track is a brief 1971 interview done in Australia. There is not much here; it’s just an add-on. It’s fun to hear them talking about the forthcoming new album, Machine Head.