The Deep Purple Project continues, from Blackmore to Morse!
One of the lovely things about collecting Deep Purple is how much the setlists change over the years. “Fireball” was rarely played with Blackmore in the band, but with Morse, it opened much of the Purpendicular tour. It did in Montreux in ’96. Ian Gillan sounds ragged, but Ian Paice on the double bass drums kicks as much ass as he did in 1971. This version lacks some of the fire (pardon the pun) of past renditions, mostly because Gillan sounds like he’s struggling a bit. Roger Glover takes a slightly extended fuzz bass solo, always a treat, but it is Jon Lord on the keys who sets the place alight. As it often does, “Fireball” ends with a brief snip of “Into the Fire” from In Rock. Apropos, no?
“Vavoom: Ted the Mechanic” is one of Purple’s greatest triumphs of the Steve Morse era. Typically for Ian Gillan, it’s about a character he met in a bar. Followers of the choppy riffing that Steve Morse is known for will dig it, as the rest of us wonder just how the hell he does it. “Ted the Mechanic” is just fun, so get up and dance. You won’t have the chance to dance on “Pictures of Home”, one of the heaviest tracks from Machine Head. Ian can’t hit the screams, but the band is on point. Listen to Ian Paice swing! Morse has no trouble welding one of his trademark solos onto this classic. Another golden oldie, the single “Black Night” is reliable. Morse and Paice are securely in the drivers seat, but there is no way a modern rendition of “Black Night” will have the adrenaline of the Made in Japan B-side version. Just sayin’ — and that’s not a knock on Deep Purple today. Just an observation. Morse actually takes a very nice jazzy guitar solo that’s a little more laid back.
“Woman From Tokyo” continues the hit parade. It’s never been Deep Purple’s most remarkable song, but you’d probably miss it if it were not in the setlist. Gillan’s voice is shredded, probably from givin’ ‘er all night the day before! I don’t necessarily mean on stage. A Deep Purple collector will appreciate a live CD with the singer a little more rough than usual, but certainly a first time buyer wouldn’t. The hit parade comes to a momentary halt, with some deep cuts. “No One Came” is a treat. It’s almost spoken word, so it doesn’t matter that Ian was having voice issues. In fact they enhance the song. It’s hard to find a live version of “No One Came” without the horn section they sometimes used. This is the way I remember hearing it when I saw them in Toronto. Raw, heavy, bouncy, slightly funky and fucking cool! “When a Blind Man Cries”, the blues B-side of “Never Before”, is the next rare track. They started playing this one when Morse joined the band, and what is remarkable is how the song is transformed by his hands. He does not play like Ritchie Blackmore, yet both guys did amazing versions of this song. Morse plays it spacey, with volume swells and heavenly tones. The solo is unique to this version, and it’s one of a kind. This extended take features a long Jon Lord keyboard intro.
Before they got back to playing the greatest hits, Purple performed the newbie “Hey Cisco”. According to another live set I have (The 12 CD Soundboard Series which you will be reading about soon), it’s a song about Clayton Moore, who played the Lone Ranger. An elderly Moore was legally barred from doing public appearances as the Lone Ranger, which Ian Gillan was quite upset about, but he couldn’t find the right words to go with “Lone Ranger”! He changed the character to the Cisco Kid, but the story is the same. “Can’t open no more supermarkets.”
“Speed King” is always a blast. Jon and Steve have a beautiful play-off together. Predictably the set ends with “Smoke on the Water”. I’m quite fond of Steve Morse versions of this song. Since it’s a tune they’ve played 3 billion times, it’s loose and free. Later on, Steve started teasing out classic rock riffs such as “Whole Lotta Love” and “Crosstown Traffic” before “Smoke”, but not on this CD. Interestingly, Gillan flubs the words! “When it all was over, h-h-how could I refuse? Swiss time was runnin’ out, see if we would lose the blues.”
The CD is slightly edited. Played that night, but not on the disc, was “Cascades: I’m Not Your Lover Now”. I’m sure between-song banter has also been edited. Ian is known for his humorous song intros, and there aren’t many here. Instead of the unedited show, they tossed on two bonus tracks from a 2000 Montreux show. These are the incredible “Sometimes I Feel Like Screaming”, and the rarely played “Fools” from Fireball. These are both long bombers, a combined 16+ minutes of bonus music. Ian was in smoother voice in 2000, and this live version of “Screaming” has to be one of the best. Then: “Fools”, one of the most impressive Deep Purple deep cuts. Long, progressive and heavy, “Fools” represents Deep Purple at their very best. Both Ians are in prime shape, with Paice winning the MVP award for his menacingly perfect rhythms.