24 Carat Purple

REVIEW: Deep Purple – 24 Carat Purple (1975)

DEEP PURPLE – 24 Carat Purple (1975 EMI)

I can’t resist reviewing this golden oldie, the first compilation released by Purple Records in 1975.  Purple had not yet broken up  — that wouldn’t happen for another year — but most of the members on this record had left the band.  It’s rarely a good sign when a band in their final death throes release a compilation album.

This CD is extraordinarily rare in these parts.  When I first started managing the Record Store at which I spent most of my years, I put my name in “reserve” for any used copies that may come in.  That was April 1996.  Here we are in June 2015, and I only just got it on CD.  I did get it on vinyl in the late 90’s, even though I have all the songs, because I enjoy having significant greatest hits albums in my collection.  (See point 4, “Historical significance”, in Getting More Tale #367.)  Unfortunately, as was the case with many CD issues from the late 80’s, the cover art isn’t even near the same colour as the original golden LP.  The CD renders it to a dark, pee-stain yellow.

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Saucy Aaron, from the KeepsMeAlive, texted me last month from Toronto, in Sonic Boom on Spadina.  “Cool Purple comp,” he texted.  “Very short though.”  He sent me a pic with a $7.99 price tag, and I told him to snag it!  That’s the kind of guy he is.  He saw a Purple compilation CD and texted me a photo, unsure if I’d even care, on the off-chance that he’d be helping out a fellow collector.  And he did!  All it needed was a new jewel case.

Because I have all the songs elsewhere, I haven’t played 24 Carat Purple in a long time.  It’s interesting that this, their first kinda-official hits album, only focuses on the Ian Gillan years, even though another version of Purple was currently functioning.  I suppose that makes sense, from a contemporary point of view.

“Woman From Tokyo” is a great track to get the party started.  I’ve only seen Purple once, on the Purpendicular tour.  I recall that this was tune that really got the dudes in their mid-40’s bouncing.  Now I’m in my mid-40’s, and I’m still bouncing to it.  It’s a nice, safe Purple single.  Jon Lord’s piano solo is, well, bouncy!  I defy you to sit perfectly still with this song playing.

More to my taste is the accelerated blast through the clouds that is “Fireball”.  To me, this track has it all — the perfect Purple mixture of adrenaline, speed, musicianship and that organ!  The live “Strange Kind of Woman” brings things back to a moderate pace.  Most of the time, I would be opposed to a live track substituting a studio version on a “hits” set, but Made in Japan was more popular than many of their studio albums!  This live take, complete with Ian laughing through some of the lines, is probably my favourite anyway.  Because Purple were as much a live act as an album band, one can easily make arguments for including live tracks of this stature.

“Never Before”, on the other hand, may have been a single but it’s nobody’s favourite Purple song.  Of all their singles, perhaps it is the most ordinary.  But at 4:00, it was about the right length to squeeze in before “Black Night” on a side of vinyl.  “Black Night” was the real treat for fans in 1975, since this was the live version released only as a B-side before.  This electric version is a must-own for its ferocity.  It was recorded at the final show of the three that were taped for Made in Japan.  Feedback-laden and ragged, this version of “Black Night” kills the others.

Side two of the record was devoted to long bombers, with “Speed King” coming in shortest at 5:50.  That means this is the full-on version of “Speed King” complete with intro, which was edited off American copies of Deep Purple In Rock.  For some listeners, this intro (purely 50 seconds of instrumental guitar-fucking and drum-wailing, followed by a mellow organ passage) would be completely new to them.  Normally you would expect a record label to plop on an edited single version.

Made in Japan is the source for the last two tracks, “Smoke on the Water” and “Child in Time”.  The mathematically inclined have probably already calculated that this means 24 Carat Purple is actually 57% live!  I think that’s OK in the long run.  Consider: “Smoke on the Water” in its live incarnation was released as a successful single.  The live “Child in Time” contains, according to my friend Uncle Meat, “the greatest guitar solo of all time.”  Since he said it, it must be true, and therefore inclusion of these two live versions is forgiven.

I feel like giving this long-deleted album a number rating is kind of meaningless.  Yes it was a great listen, but it’s just a compilation from a band that most people agree are an albums band.

3/5 stars

REVIEW: Deep Purple – Power House (1977 Japanese import)

PH FRONT CD

DEEP PURPLE – Power House (1977  Warner Bros, Japanese import)

I have always loved listening to the Power House album, featuring the classic Deep Purple Mk II era. After Purple broke up in ’76, the market was inundated with compilations and live albums. This one, and others like Last Concert in Japan, and When We Rock We Rock… were snapped up by fans who wanted more Purple. All of these albums have been rendered redundant by superior, current Deep Purple remasters.  If you’re the kind of fan who collects all of those 70’s posthumous Hendrix albums, then you’ll dig Power House, a brief but enjoyable romp through less familiar Purple. You’ll even get the original liner notes by Simon Robinson.

Power House consisted of 6 then-unreleased tracks. Here’s your complete track list:

1. “Painted Horse”.  This is an outtake from the Who Do We Think We Are sessions in July 1972.  This is the track that Blackmore “didn’t like”.  He hated what Gillan did with the vocal, and demanded it be changed.  Gillan refused, and the result was a great, unique Deep Purple rocker that remained unreleased until after the band was defunct.

2. “Hush”
3. “Wring That Neck”
4. “Child In Time”
From the Concerto for Group and Orchestra program in September 1969.  The original hit LP release of the Concerto had just the three movements of that piece.  Deep Purple played a standard three song set before the Concerto, and here it was released on Power House.  These three versions remain among my favourite performances of these songs.  “Child In Time” had yet to be recorded on album, and Jon Lord’s melodies are experimental and in development.  Very cool.  It’s “Hush” that really smokes, a definitive version of this cover.  Gillan made it his own right there.

Today the Concerto is available remixed on two discs, with the full piece, the Deep Purple set, and the Royal Philharmonic’s rendition of Malcolm Arnold’s “Symphony No. 6”, which was also performed that night.

5. “Black Night”.  Another nearly definitive version in my books!  This is a B-side, recorded at the Made in Japan dates in August 1972.  This is widely available today on various extended versions of the Japan shows, the Singles A’s and B’s, 24 Carat Purple, and many others.

6. “Cry Free”.  Outtake from the Deep Purple In Rock sessions in January 1970.  It is incredible how fertile the band were in the early 1970’s.  As if In Rock wasn’t amazing enough, this kind of song doesn’t even make the album?  Amazing that Deep Purple’s outtakes were so impressive.  That they could throw this away speaks volumes of their confidence at the time.

Regardless of Power House being superseded in recent years by better packages, I still enjoy this album, in this sequence.

4/5 stars