Made in Europe

REVIEW: Deep Purple – Made in Europe (1976)

Scan_20160114DEEP PURPLE – Made in Europe (1976 EMI)

In 1976, Deep Purple ended with a thud.

With no desire to carry on, the band split in 1976 after the ill-received addition of Tommy Bolin on lead guitar.  David Coverdale was eager to start a solo career where he could sing, and not “scream his balls off”.  Everybody else was just plain tired of it all.  Dutifully, the record company trotted out live albums and compilations, to keep the cash flowing.  Made in Europe, intended as a followup to Made in Japan, came first.  It was followed by Power House, When We Rock We Rock, Deepest Purple, Last Concert in Japan, Live in London, and many more.  The goal was not to provide fans with good quality unreleased music for them to enjoy.  The purpose was to make more money.

Made in Europe has since been superseded by better releases.  MkIII: The Final Concerts expanded and remixed this material, sourced from their last shows with Ritchie Blackmore.  He had already made the decision to quit, unbeknownst to his bandmates.  More recently, the Official Deep Purple (Overseas) Live Series released full shows of two concerts, Graz and Paris.  It is always preferable to have the full show, rather than a song here or there sloppy edited and mixed into a live album.  Don’t you agree?

With only five songs, Made in Europe was hardly representative of Purple’s set at the time, but it seems a single LP was all that EMI were willing to invest in.  Producer Martin Birch was unable to get the same heavy, crisp sound that he got on Made in Japan.  This one is heavy, but that crisp sound is muffled under a blanket.

“Burn” is an apt opener, and both David and Glenn Hughes were in fine form that night.  Blackmore, Paice and Lord always are.  Yet Deep Purple sound almost…bored?  Playing by rote?  Blackmore’s guitar is also too buried in the mix.  The first of two jams is up next: “Mistreated (Interpolating ‘Rock Me Baby’)”.  While no one questions that this is one of the greatest songs in the Deep Purple MkIII catalogue, the live jam has always dragged.  Ritchie’s playing is still a delight, but they could have trimmed two or three minutes from the song.   That’s followed by a frantic “Lady Double Dealer”, never one of Purple’s finest.  Birch applies an irritating echo to the chorus, but that’s all for the first side.

The second side is dominated by 16 minutes of “You Fool No One”, the second jam.  Jon Lord takes center stage for the organ solo intro, but if you dig cowbell, this song is for you!  Could Ian Paice be the #1 cowbell player on the planet?  “You Fool No One” testifies to that.  He is absolutely the MVP on this track (for his drumming, too)!  Finally, the full gale force of “Stormbringer” brings the proceedings to an end, easily the best track on the disc.

What, no “Smoke on the Water”?  No “Highway Star”?  It appears EMI wanted to avoid song overlap with Made in Japan, so you get MkIII material and only MkIII material!  That the drawback to a set such as this which is really only about half of a proper Deep Purple concert.

3/5 stars

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REVIEW: Deep Purple – Live in Graz 1975 (2014)

NEW-ish RELEASE

DEEP PURPLE – Live in Graz 1975 (2014 Edel)

Any time there is an official Deep Purple archival release coming out, diehards have to pay attention.  The current library of vintage live CDs is the Official Deep Purple (Overseas) Live Series.  A mouthful.  Live in Paris was the first in the series, followed by Copenhagen 1972 (which I missed but have to catch up on).  Graz 1975 is the third, and it has a long history of incomplete releases going all the way back to 1976!  Some songs were used on the single LP Made in Europe in that year.   In 1996, five songs were remixed and included on Mk III: The Final Concerts.  Now the entire April 3 show in Graz, Austria has been remixed again and released in its completion.

As a guy who owns virtually every single official Deep Purple release and catching up on the rest, I’m amazed at how crisp and fucking essential this new mix of “Burn” is.  The liner notes call it “surely the best version of this song, ever.” Paice and Blackmore both play with an excitement and energy that is even above their standards.  Lord too, but my God are Ian and Ritchie fueled up, laying down fill after fill that were of that moment.  Ritchie was on the verge of leaving — he was gone after only two more shows.  Even if you’ve heard this exact same recording of “Burn” from Mk III: The Final Concerts before, you haven’t heard it like this.  This new mix kills the prior ones, rendering them almost obsolete.  Ditto with “Stormbringer”, which captures all the energy that that was missing from Made in Europe.

I’m always pleased to hear “The Gypsy” from Stormbringer, an underrated track from an underrated album.  Glenn Hughes’ young pipes are achingly powerful, drowning out David Coverdale.  An unreleased “Lady Double Dealer” is the last short song before the show progresses on to long 10 minute or more jams.  Ritchie’s manic pick scrapes are deliciously perfect.  This usually isn’t one of my go-to Deep Purple songs, but this absolutely smokes any version I’ve heard before.

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The first long bomber is Ritchie’s blues centerpiece, “Mistreated”.  I confess I usually snooze through this one.  This version will be familiar as one of the “bonus tracks” on Mk III: The Final Concerts.  Ritchie is the main focus of “Mistreated”, and he stretches out far and wide, using bits from “Lazy”, “Sail Away” and classical melodies.  Coverdale is much stronger vocally than he tends to be on this song.  A ramshackle “Smoke on the Water” is also dull by comparison with the first part of the set.  Its highlight is a long, building and breaking Jon Lord organ solo, which leads into “With a Little Help from my Friends”.  “You Fool No One” is over 10 minutes, and it gives Ian Paice a chance to strut his stuff.  Paice is one of those drummers that it pays off to focus on and really listen to, because he is always doing something interesting.  All of this is outshined by a 20 minute “Space Truckin'”. Richard Strauss’ “Thus Spake Zarathustra” is a suitably bombastic segue, for a band of Deep Purple’s stature.  They also detour into “Child in Time”.  If you’re not wiped out by now, you will be by the end.

Gotta say that those responsible do a great job with these Deep Purple products. Absolutely no qualms about this release at all.  Not essential to anyone but fans of Deep Purple Mk III.

3.5/5 stars