NEW RELEASE: Part 3
DEEP PURPLE – Made In Japan (2014 limited edition Super Deluxe box set)
“Smoke on the Water” Japanese 7″ promo. This is a reproduction of a rare Japanese promo single from 1972, sleeve and all. It is pressed on heavy 70 gram vinyl, a treat indeed. It features the promotional single edit of the studio version, and an edit of the Made In Japan version on the other side. The studio edit is available on plenty of releases, such as Singles A’s and B’s. The live edit is one that I don’t think I owned prior to this. I actually enjoy something like this; it’s interesting to see where and how they did the edits, from a technical point of view.
Including a 7″ single in a box set of this size is something I wholeheartedly support. Not only do I love the vinyl format, but when you spend this much money ($115 Canadian) in one place, you deserve something extra. A lot of the stuff included in box sets these days, even in this box set, amounts to nothing more than paper. Music trumps packaging, so I’ll always take something like a bonus vinyl, especially when it has an exclusive track on it.
Interestingly, on this printing, the times for the two tracks are reversed. The live version is the longer, not the shorter as the label suggests.
This hour-long documentary consists of new and archival footage and interviews, assembled into a narrative. Old footage of Deep Purple MKI begins our story. The shortcomings of this lineup led the core members of Ian Paice, Jon Lord, and Ritchie Blackmore to seek new bandmates. They had gone as far as they could musically with Nick Simper (bass) and Rod Evans (vocals). In stepped Roger Glover and rock’s greatest screamer, Ian Gillan. Then, the big albums: In Rock, Fireball, and Machine Head.
Strangely, it was a tax loophole that led to Machine Head. It was expected that the fortunes of the band would only rise, but British tax laws would keep them all paupers. If they became tax exiles, and wrote and recorded in mainland Europe, they would not be taxed. This led them to Montreux, Switzerland. According to Claude Nobs, they were planning on recording an album called Made In Switzerland. Nobs invited them to record at the local casino, and the circumstances of this have been well documented. A Frank Zappa concert that night was attended by Deep Purple and Nobs. Someone fired a flare gun into the bamboo ceiling, and the place went up in smoke. This DVD has the audio of Zappa asking the audience to leave!
The place did indeed burn to the ground. Luckily Deep Purple had not yet moved in their gear, or it too would be gone. Next they tried recording in a small theater, but noise complaints caused them to move again. It took almost a week to find the Grand Hotel, which was closed for the winter. Perfect. The results speak for themselves. Machine Head is the classic Deep Purple album. But according to Blackmore, it was Made In Japan that made them a phenomenon. It was a live album that they didn’t want to do, but could not have regretted doing.
Bruce Dickinson, James Hetfield, Lars Ulrich, and more show up to discuss the impact of Made In Japan on themselves. Dickinson points out that the remarkable thing is that Made In Japan is 100% live. There are no overdubs. Martin Birch managed to capture it raw. There’s a lot of great footage here; live footage, showing the interplay of the band.
Next, the band headed to Rome to record the difficult Who Do We Think We Are. Made In Japan had not even been released in America yet, only Japan, until mass importing of the record forced the label to release it. Unfortunately at the height of their powers, Ian Gillan and Ritchie Blackmore had a massive falling out. Ian resigned. Blackmore and Paice almost formed a trio with Phil Lynott. Glover was fired, which was a condition Blackmore set to stay in Deep Purple. A final Japanese tour was the last commitment of the band. Glover describes a cold atmosphere, and the tension in the air.
Glenn Hughes appears next, remembering a Trapeze gig attended by members of Deep Purple. He sussed out the reason for their attendance. Still, he did not expect to be asked to join. It was an emotional time for Glover. He saw his Deep Purple albums on top of the charts, yet with magazines printing pictures of their new lineup featuring David Coverdale and Glenn Hughes. Hughes reveals he was mistakenly sent awards for albums like Who Do We Think We Are. Glover felt deeply hurt but strove to be a professional.
As a Deep Purple fan who owns a lot of Deep Purple on video, I enjoyed this documentary. Although it has some footage that I had before, it also had a lot that I didn’t, such as interviews that were new to me. Footage from Japan is a highlight. “Smoke on the Water” is presented almost in full (from the 17th), though it is very lo-fi.
Extras include a music video for “Smoke on the Water”, made up of footage from the documentary. “The Revolution” is a short film about rock music and counter-culture, focusing on Deep Purple while at Montreux in 1971. Much of this footage is in the main documentary. A bearded Gillan rips his way through “Speed King”, and the band are interviewed. There’s also a short German documentary from 1972, subtitled of course. I enjoyed the description of their stage attire: “intentionally scruffy hippie uniforms”. Finally, there is a 1973 performance of “Smoke”, but now I’ve really heard the song too many times. It’s the best footage though: full colour, pro-shot. Roger is wearing bright red platform shoes.
This DVD was adequate. The main documentary feature was re-watchable. “The Revolution” and the German doc, not so much. It’s too bad that the video content is only tangendentally related to Made In Japan. The DVD is really not much more than a supplement to the main feature.
Final words: The box set is rounded out by an excellent booklet, a reproduction of the Japanese tour program, a family tree, and a reproduction press release. Ultimately these things are just pieces of paper. Nobody would go out of their way to buy a reproduction of a press release.
As a boxed set of music, Made In Japan is a home run. This is the way they should have released it back in ’93, instead of the incomplete Live In Japan. I’ll hang onto my old 2 CD anniversary edition of Made In Japan, because I believe in keeping the original mix of something. It’s an historic piece, not to be discarded. When I want a briefer Deep Purple live experience, I’ll play that version of Made In Japan. When I want the full Monty, I’m listening to this box set. Not only is it the best release sonically, but it is the only complete release of all three Japanese shows.
As a celebratory boxed edition of a classic, I’m less satisfied. The DVD and the papers inside are things I will get less enjoyment from. If the DVD had included a feature on the making and remixing of this edition, I would have been more interested.
Still, I’m happy.
For the music: 5/5 stars
For the box overall: 4/5 stars