Here is something clearly designed for the archivist, not the casual listener. Purple Chronicle is a strange but in-depth collection of singles, album cuts, B-sides and rarities. With tracks spanning 1968 to 1976 (Deep Purple’s original run) there is much to cover. There are even two mono mixes that are still unavailable on CD anywhere else.
The first two discs comprise a chronological look at the most key Deep Purple tracks. Five songs are earmarked to represent the Rod Evans era, including the big one “Hush” and Neil Diamond’s “Kentucky Woman”. It’s a mere brief glance at the three albums they did with Rod, but there are more rarities on Disc 3.
The classic Deep Purple Mk II era featuring Ian Gillan takes over on the next 11 tracks. From “Speed King” through to “Fireball” and “Strange Kind of Woman”, the big hits are here. Who Do We Think We Are from 1973 only has one track present (“Woman From Tokyo”). “Into the Fire” is pleasing to find here, as one of Deep Purple’s short and sweet heavy metal stomps.
Deep Purple Mk III and IV (featuring David Coverdale and Glenn Hughes behind the microphones) are given 12 tracks to stretch out. They don’t anything as long as Gillan’s “Child in Time” which exceeds 10 minutes, so this is still fairly proportional. The best songs, both rockers and ballads, are laid out from their three records. They include the unforgettable “Burn” and “Stormbringer”, the extended blues “Mistreated” and underappreciated gems such as “You Keep on Moving” and “Comin’ Home” with Tommy Bolin on guitar.
All of the songs on the first two discs would have been available on standard Deep Purple CDs at the time. The third disc has a bunch of tracks that were (and some that still are) harder to come by. It is dominated by B-sides, single edits and assorted rarities. “Black Night” appears for the first time, as a single edit and live B-side. Indeed there is a lot of repeat of Disc 3. “Speed King” for example is here twice more, with both of its extended intros (noise plus keyboards, or just keyboards). These weren’t on the typical CD release of Deep Purple In Rock at the time. There are single edits of “Woman From Tokyo”, “Highway Star”, “Lazy” and “Burn” (two edits!). And there are lots of rarities galore, culled from B-sides and Purple’s outtake album Power House. Some, such as Rod Evans’ “Emmeretta”, and Gillan’s “Painted Horse” and “Cry Free”, are true unsung Purple classics. “Coronarias Redig” is notable as the only instrumental of the Coverdale era.
The two tracks that are still true rarities today are the mono mixes of “Smoke on the Water” and its live counterpart. More versions of “Smoke”? Yes indeed, but unless you have heard them in mono before, you have not heard them all. These are not “fold down” mono mixes made by just converting the stereo track to mono. These are audibly different in subtle ways.
This is the kind of set that will be difficult and expensive to track down. If you spy it somewhere, be aware of the value to collectors. (I was fortunate that a copy in great condition just dropped in my lap for cheap.) Consider it if collecting Purple is your thing. Includes full booklet and poster with family tree.