This shouldn’t have been the “last concert in Japan”!
Many of the old, post-breakup-issued Deep Purple live albums are virtually impossible to find today on CD. One of those is Last Concert In Japan, which was originally released only in that country. It featured the Mk IV lineup of Deep Purple: David Coverdale, Glenn Hughes, Ian Paice, Jon Lord, and the late Tommy Bolin on lead guitar. As a matter of historical releases for my collection, I also own the original Last Concert in Japan on both LP and CD.
The tragic story goes that while some members of Purple were rejuvinated with the fresh blood that Bolin donated, others were dead tired of it all. Reviews were spotty and word was spreading that Deep Purple were over. Both Bolin and Hughes were in the throes of serious drug habits. On the night of the recording of Last Concert in Japan, Bolin was shooting up and caused his arm to go numb. Frantic attempts to get him stageworthy worked and he managed to barely play the show. Guitar parts are sloppy and that’s what people remember because it went on LP. The original one-record set from the show has now been expanded to two lengthy CDs, 17 tracks. It’s been remixed and remastered. Production was supervised by Purple expert Simon Robinson, so you know that the quality level is about as good as it could be. Because of the fully expanded tracklist, some of the finer live Deep Purple moments have been restored to this album, such as a 16 minute “Gettin’ Tighter” which was too long to include on a single record.
Some flaws do remain of course. Tommy’s guitar is now barely audible in the “Burn” riff as opposed to non-existent. However the overall experience is very listenable. It’s a darkly interesting album to own, because within months Purple disbanded, and a year later Tommy Bolin would be dead.
If you already own Last Concert In Japan, this purchase gives you over an hour more of unreleased music. Even so, all of it has been remixed, so you are still in for a fresh listen with open ears. If you already own dozens of Deep Purple live albums (believe me, it’s possible), this one has five songs that you can’t get elsewhere in live versions. It’s even a better listen than In Concert/King Biscuit Flower Hour (aka, On The Wings Of A Russian Foxbat) with stronger vocals. Plus you get Tommy singing on “Wild Dogs”. Worth the double-dip.