EPIC REVIEW TIME!
DEEP PURPLE – Live in Stockholm 1970 (2014 Edel, 2 CD 1 DVD set)
This is the second time I’ve bought this live album. Hopefully, this edition from the Official Deep Purple (Overseas) Live Series, with its bonus tracks and DVD represents the last time I need to shell out. The first was a cheap looking 2 CD set called Live and Rare (1992). There was also a more official version called Scandinavian Nights. They’re all pretty much the same, a set of early long long bombers by Deep Purple recorded for radio in 1970. This remixed (from the master tapes) edition has the set list restored to the correct order, and two bonus tracks from Paris the same year. It also has a Jon Lord interview and a DVD for a TV special called Doing Their Thing.
The TV broadcast weirdly begins right in the middle of “Speed King”. Full colour and in stereo, this is some fantastic footage. It’s shot and edited for excitement. Ritchie Blackmore assaults his weapon, but with precision. For a guy who is so technically capable, it’s amazing how physical and visual he gets. “Child in Time” gives Ian Gillan a chance to both sing and scream. Strangely there are two small bored looking boys in the audience, right by Roger Glover, and they couldn’t look any less thrilled to be at this taping. Who are they? Why are they there? Who knows! This is the full unedited “Child in Time” complete with solos.
You get ample closeups on Jon, Ritchie and Roger and it’s amazing to see them play so fast, so perfectly. You can study Jon’s hands and try to figure out what he’s doing. Ian Paice is in the back, tiny frame creating a huge sound. The instrumental “Wring that Neck” is soloriffic, and Blackmore is surprisingly friendly with the cameras. This is very rare for the man in black. The audience politely clap at his playful solo, and he keeps them guessing to the end. A rare delight, to see him in such a good mood on stage. The final track on the DVD is “Mandrake Root”, another song that was really only in the set for them to jam to. They are in sync, and being able to watch Deep Purple at their peak jamming in this clarity, well that’s really something. Too bad most of the songs are edited down.
As for the 2 CD set, it has always been a bit of a slog to get to the end. There are two tracks at 30 minutes a piece. There is one at 18. There are three in the 10-12 minute range. Of all the Deep Purple live albums out there, Stockholm is probably the one that requires the most patience. This is, however, my first time hearing it freshly mixed and restored for today.
Set commencing with “Speed King” again, this time it’s the full-on 12 minute jam. Barely hanging together, Purple blast it out with extra heavy energy. Gillan sounds as if he’s about to burst a blood vessel in his neck. The audio has more depth than previously releases, but Ian’s voice sounds a bit too low in the mix. “Do you know what a Speed King is? A Speed King is somebody who sing at a hundred miles an hour,” sings Ian, not really enlightening us. “Everybody’s a Speed King when you wanna be,” he adds, confusing things more. Things quiet down, turn jazzy, and then explode once more. Not the greatest version of “Speed King” ever recorded, but definitely one of the most frantic.
“Into the Fire” is a rare shot of brevity. Assailing the skull nonetheless, after “Into the Fire” the band take it back a bit with “Child in Time”. This full-on 18 minute version is far longer than the better known one from Made in Japan. The cool thing about Purple is that no two versions of any song are exactly the same, and if you’ve heard “Child in Time” before…you still haven’t heard the 18 minute version from Stockholm. With all due respect to the Japan version, this one has its own diamonds of brilliance. How the hell do they keep playing with that rapidity?
Better pee now, because a jazzy “Wring that Neck” is next, over 30 minutes. Loaded with playing that’ll stop your heart, but not as interesting as the definitive version on Concerto for Group and Orchestra. This contains a showcase for Jon Lord’s keyboard solos. Ritchie’s playing is always sublime, and so is Jon’s, but…30 minutes…that’s a lot of jamming. Like too much crème brûlée. Ritchie again plays with the audience, teasing out melodies from songs such as “Jingle Bells” and “I’m Looking Over a Four Leaf Clover”. If that wasn’t enough, Deep Purple’s 10 minute cover of the Stones’ “Paint it, Black” is really just an excuse for a long drum solo by Ian Paice! Gillan took off, making the song an instrumental, which they only stick to for a minute before letting Paice go nuts.
Flip over to CD 2, and get ready for another 30 minute long bomber. “A thing you can jump around to,” says Ian. It’s “Mandrake Root” and it’s bouncy. This is a well-known version of the song, and it even appears on Deep Purple comprehensive box set Listen, Learn, Read On in its complete length. You can clearly hear Gillan on the congas during the long instrumental break. You can also hear them quoting the Kinks’ “You Really Got Me Now”. This jam generates more interest than “Wring that Neck”, but it’s still a chore to finish. And you get to hear “Mandrake Root” and “Wring that Neck” three times each in this package.
The final song (of a mere seven!) for Stockholm is a reasonably brief one: “Black Night”. After so much jammin’ it’s nice to have a single, with a set structure, and more than just occasional lead vocals! It raises the energy a bit after a very draining concert set. But you’d better refuel with some coffee, because you’re not finished yet.
The two bonus tracks from Paris sound as if they were recorded in a smaller venue. They are sonically superior to the Stockholm recordings, but damn, I am all jammed out! Thankfully, this version of “Wring that Neck” is delightful and unique. It’s hotter and way, way jazzier. Blackmore also teases out a bit of a preview of a forthcoming song. You can hear a teeny bit of the guitar melody to 1971’s “The Mule” in his solo. He even plays a bit of “God Saves the Queen”, in Paris! Then on to “Mandrake Root” again, 14 minutes this time, half the length of the last one. Jon’s solo is incredible, but aren’t they all? This one has some nice rhythmic choppy bits that are so fun to air-keyboard along to. The track eventually descends into chaos and noise, as all good Deep Purple jams do.
Finally we have the 1971 Jon Lord interview. This 11 minute track discusses how Jon joined the band, the early days, the Concerto, and In Rock. The title is misleading however, since the track also contains a few bits with Ian Gillan. Fun stuff but ultimately nothing here that the fan doesn’t already know.
3/5 stars, simply because I know from experience that this set won’t get much repeat play in your home.
3.5/5 stars when you take the bonus DVD into consideration.