When Deep Purple broke up in 1976, their back catalog was ripe for exploitation for compilation by record labels. One by one, out trickled Deepest Purple, Singles A’s and B’s, and When We Rock, We Rock and When We Roll, We Roll. 1978’s When We Rock is the least necessary of them all.
The only thing that When We Rock really has going for it is that did feature all the Deep Purple singers to date. Ian Gillan sings the majority of tracks, Rod Evans has two (“Hush” and “Kentucky Woman”) and Coverdale/Hughes have one (“Burn”). The shoddy package had no involvement from any ex-members of the band, and even has an incorrect track listing on the back. “Woman From Tokyo” isn’t live, but “Smoke on the Water” is (from Made in Japan).
If music shoppers in 1978 were just looking for a handy-dandy single record set of all Purple’s radio hits, then When We Rock almost fits the bill. “Hard Road (Wring That Neck)” is conspicuous by its inclusion, being a semi-obscure instrumental from 1969’s The Book of Taliesyn. Swap that one out for “Strange King of Woman” and you could have had a serviceable hits set, even considering the live tracks. After all, Made in Japan helped establish the live album as a viable hitmaker.
The only reason to own When We Rock, We Rock and When We Roll, We Roll is the cover art, which admittedly is pretty nifty.