concerto for group and orchestra

REVIEW: Deep Purple – The Soundboard Series – Australasian Tour 2001 (12 CD box set)

The Deep Purple Project continues!  Here is one big solid chunk of rock majesty.

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DEEP PURPLE – The Soundboard Series – Australasian Tour 2001 (2001 Thames 12 CD box set)

One day in spring of 2002, I wandered into Encore Records in Kitchener.  I spied this lovely box o’ rock up front in their glass case, where they stored similarly awesome boxes of rock.

“What’s that?!” I asked, and was promptly handed 12 CDs of live Purple.  A quick glance, and “I’ll take it.”  Only a short while before, I bought yet another 12 CD live Deep Purple box set.  When I first noticed this box under the glass, I was hoping it was just a reissue of the same thing; something I already had that I could safely pass on.   It only took one close look to realize that this was a whole other animal completely.  Rather than a collection of bootlegs from the 80’s and up, like the one I had, this box chronicled Deep Purple’s 2001 tour of Australia, Hong Kong and Japan.  What special concerts those must have been.  Read on and you’ll discover why.

Each concert presented in this box is complete, and mixed from the 8-track soundboard DAT tapes.  No audience recordings in this bad boy, which is a good thing, since Purple were touring with numerous extra musicians and accoutrements that require sonic clarity.  Of the six concerts included, four are largely the same.  A lot of Ian Gillan’s song intros are the same from night to night, and the setlists are by and large the same.  Of course where Deep Purple are concerned, that means very little.  Their solos are never the same, and each performance is its own experience.  Steve Morse has never really repeated himself night after night, nor did Jon Lord.

There are some cool surprises in the sets.  One of the best tracks, and one of the most rarely played, is “Mary Long” from Who Do We Think We Are.  This rhythmic monster goes down smashingly well, and it’s a wonder that Purple never tried it any earlier.  There are some true buried gems on those early Purple albums, especially Fireball and Who Do We Think We Are, that were never given a fair shake in their day.  Deep Purple today are able to have more fun with their setlists than they were in the 70’s.  Another such track is “No One Came”, one of the strangest songs in the catalogue.  It benefits greatly from a three piece horn section (the Side Door Johnny’s).  There are versions with horns on some other live albums as well, such as Live at the Olympia ’96, so while horns are not unheard of in Deep Purple, they are rare.  “No One Came” and “Fools” (both from Fireball) are quite a treat any time you get to hear them live, which you didn’t get to do in the 70’s.  They also play the classic B-side “When a Blind Man Cries”, a blues that deserves the spotlight.

Of course Deep Purple always play new material, but what’s really surprising is that they only played one song from their last studio album (1998’s Abandon), and only one time, during the first four concerts!  At the first show, in Melbourne, they played “’69”.  Then it was dropped and the set slightly shuffled.  “Smoke on the Water” was moved from the middle to the second half of the set.  Speaking of “Smoke”, fans familiar with the Steve Morse version of Deep Purple are aware that he really likes to have fun with the intro.  He teases out several classic rock riffs, all instantly recognizable, as he tries to remember which riff is the one he’s supposed to be playing (or so it seems).  AC/DC’s “Back in Black” is the one that really stands out, and it’s remarkable how well it works with Deep Purple.  There are lots more, including “Whole Lotta Love”, “Heartbreaker” and “Stairway to Heaven”, that one normally does not associate with Deep Purple!    Other favourite riffs include “Sweet Home Alabama”, “Little Wing”, and even a Van Halen inspired version of “You Really Got Me”, but the one that surprised me the most was “To Be With You”, by Mr. Big.  Don’t forget, Mr. Big are absolutely huge in Japan, so when they played that little bit in Tokyo, I’m sure everybody knew it.

Also of note, Jimmy Barnes came out for “Highway Star” and “Smoke on the Water” for a couple Australian shows.  Sharp-minded readers will remember that Barnes was one of many singers who auditioned for Deep Purple in the late 80’s before they hired on Joe Lynn Turner.  He seems to have a blast screaming his way through “Highway Star”!  Must be like a dream come true.  Gillan’s in great voice too, by the way!

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For more thrills with special guests, we must go to the last two shows, in Japan.  Australia surely had a treat with the Side Door Johnny’s and Jimmy Barnes, but what Japan got was even better.  Fresh off their well-received Live at the Royal Albert Hall album from 2000, conductor Paul Mann joined Purple for two nights in Tokyo.  That meant a full performance of the legendary and almost never performed Concerto for Group and Orchestra, all three movements.  Mann and the New Japan Select Orchestra joined Purple on a number of their songs as well, including “Watching the Sky” from Abandon, but it was only played on the first night.  All that said, there was no greater thrill than the presence of Ronnie James Dio.  As he did on the Albert Hall album, Ronnie sang lead on two songs from the Purple solo catalogue.  He performs Roger Glover’s “Sitting in a Dream” and the delightfully bouncy hippy anthem “Love is All”.  Ian Gillan, meanwhile takes the lead on Jon Lord’s “Pictured Within”.   Dio also returns for “Smoke on the Water”, trading with Gillan, but what’s really special is that Purple actually performed two Dio songs at these shows.  Though Dio and Purple are two very different bands, Purple adapt and do great versions of “Fever Dreams” and “Rainbow in the Dark”.  The drum and keyboard parts are the most different, but nobody’s complaining!  It’s great that they did “Fever Dreams” from Dio’s Magica, a great album that deserved the recognition.  “Fever Dreams” is one of Dio’s best tunes from the latter period.

“Wring that Neck” and “Pictures of Home” were brought out of mothballs for the Tokyo concerts.  “Wring that Neck” is a jazzy version with the horns coming in strong, just like it was on the Albert Hall CD.  Undoubtedly though, the centerpiece is the Concerto itself.  Even though it put Purple on the map in 1969, it wasn’t particularly well liked by the members of the band (Jon Lord aside, obviously, since it was his creation.)  With Steve Morse in the band instead of Ritchie Blackmore, feelings softened and ideas like resurrecting the Concerto were possible.  The music however was lost.  It took Dutch composer Marco de Goeij years to re-create it, but once Lord helped him finish, it could be performed once again.  It’s incredible to think that they were able to take it to Japan and play it for those lucky fans, both nights.  You can absolutely tell the difference from the London version.  It’s fortunate that it was recorded so well (not perfect but damn well good enough!), and released for you to be able to own forever.

There is no point in breaking this down for a disc-by-disc rating.  If the box set could be faulted for anything, it is that there is so much repeat between the first four concerts.  For me, box sets tend to work best in the car.  I put this on a flash drive and took about three weeks to listen to the whole thing in sequence.  In that environment, I don’t bore of the songs.  Instead I enjoyed the slight differences.  “Oh, this is a little different than the way they introduced it, when I heard it a couple days ago.”  Obviously, only a true Deep Purple lover needs to own this.  But every Deep Purple lover should own it.

Discs 1 & 2 – Melbourne, March 9 2001

Discs 3 & 4 – Wollongong, March 13 2001

Discs 5 & 6 – Newcastle, March 14 2001

Discs 7 & 8 – Hong Kong, March 20 2001

Discs 9 & 10 – Tokyo, March 24 2001

Discs 11 & 12 – Tokyo, March 25 2001

4/5 stars

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

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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

Motherlode of Christmas Rock!

I have 31 discs of music to listen to now.  And a whole lotta other goodies.  Here we go!

First up – books.  Peter Criss’ Makeup To Breakup, and the latest from Ripley’s Believe It or Not and Guiness’ Book of World Records.   I’ve leafed through Peter’s book — all he seems to do is bitch about Paul and Gene.  Review will come.

Next, Queen.  A total of 8 discs of awesome remastered Queen to listen to:  The Miracle, Jazz, A Night at the Opera, and Live Killers!

Next up, Rush.  6 discs in each of these two Sector box sets, including 2 DVD’s in 5.1 surround, plus 2 discs of 2112.  Awesome.  (I already have Sector 2 and have a review of that coming in the next few days.)

And the rest:  The 4 disc Cult Love Omnibus Edition.  Thin Lizzy’s Life Live (2 discs), Jon Lord’s Concerto for Group and Orchestra, and the new Rage Against The Machine XX edition (2 discs plus a DVD).

But that’s not all.  Check out this Kiss lunchbox, these movies and vintage G1 Transformers 1988 “Bugly” action figure.

Lastly my folks got me this neat Joby camera tripod.  This is going to come in handy when I make my next Transformers stop motion animated movie.  I did a brief 15 second screen test — check that out too!


Hope your Christmas was filled with happiness, love, joy, and rock!

Part 141: When We Rock, We Rock, and When We Roll, We Roll

RECORD STORE TALES Part 141:  When We Rock, We Rock, and When We Roll, We Roll

I’d always liked Deep Purple, since I first heard the song “Knockin’ On Your Back Door”.  But I wasn’t a Deep Purple collector until 1996.  Until then I only owned three:  Deepest Purple, Perfect Strangers, and Knockin’ On Your Back Door.

In 1996 two critical events occurred:  Deep Purple released the incredible comeback record, Purpendicular, with Steve Morse.  I was also dumped by a girl who went and married the next guy, a few months later.  That kind of took the wind out of my sails.  And what’s better for putting the wind back in, than some new music?

I had T-Trev order Purpendicular for me.  I hadn’t even heard a note, or seen a review.  It was an import.  Wasn’t even released in this country yet. Yet, new music was what the doctor ordered.

The CD arrived open, as did almost all discs imported from England.  (Do you not seal your discs in England?)  T-Rev gave it a test spin before I arrived.  The track was called “Vavoom: Ted the Mechanic”.

“There’s some crazy stuff on here.  Hope you like it”.

In three listens, I loved it.

The quest was on to get more.  I taped some rare stuff off my buddy Vuckovich:  Anthology (the vinyl, not the CD version) , and Power House.  Both contained rare tracks that were not available on CD at the time.  We had copies of Shades Of and Book of Taliesyn, and I bought those as well.   Book Of was a cheap reproduction, unfortunately I paid $16 for it without realizing.  You could hear that it was taken from a vinyl copy.  We also had a used copy of When We Rock, We Rock, so I grabbed that too.  It had some live stuff from Made In Japan on it.

The local library had a copy of Deep Purple, the final Rod Evans album, which I recorded.  It quickly became a favourite.

At Sam the Record Man downtown, I found both Concerto For Group and Orchestra and King Biscuit Flower Hour.  I fell in love with the Concerto big time.  Unfortunately, it didn’t work well for store play.  The quiet parts were inaudible.

Later that summer, Tom directed me to a copy of The House of Blue Light, used with some water damage on the cover, at a Christian record store in Waterloo.  I took it because it was impossible to find on CD.   And finally, T-Rev and I hit HMV in Toronto, where I acquired a beautiful 25th Anniversary edition of In Rock, and the accompanying “Black Night” limited edition single.

Don’t break the case, the autographs are etched into the plastic!

That was just 1996, and I hadn’t even scratched the surface yet.  I didn’t even have Fireball, Machine Head, Made in Japan, or Who Do We Think We Are yet!  It would take time.  Back then you didn’t necessarily buy in order of preference, you bought in order of opportunity.

It was a lot of Deep Purple to absorb in a short period of time, but that’s how Purple became one of my top five favourite bands today.  Sometimes you just need to dive in…and sometimes you just need a little push to do so.  Thanks for dumping me, chickie!