perfect strangers

REVIEW: Deep Purple – Perfect Strangers (1984)

It’s Purple Week at mikeladano.com!  It’s all Deep Purple and Deep Purple alumni, all week.  This is Part 3…and this time we’re going Epic Review Time.  

Part 1:  Shades of Deep Purple
Part 2:  The Book of Taliesyn

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DEEP PURPLE – Perfect Strangers (1984 Polygram)

Deep Purple were the proverbial candle that was burned at both ends.  Their first four studio albums (plus a friggin’ concerto!) were cranked out in a mere two years.  Management and record labels pushed the band to stay on the road, only taking precious breaks to write and record new music.  Sometimes the pressure worked (Machine Head) and sometimes it didn’t (Who Do We Think We Are).  Ian Gillan’s resignation signaled the end of the celebrated Deep Purple Mk II lineup.  Though the band successfully carried on with David Coverdale & Glenn Hughes, even those lineups imploded and by 1976, Deep Purple officially ceased to exist.

The absence of Purple created a void that was filled by greatest hits records, live albums, and well-known side projects such as Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow, Gillan, and Whitesnake.  Still, there was such a demand for Deep Purple itself that original singer Rod Evans put together his own bogus “Deep Purple” and played several shows in 1980!  In his band were a couple guys from Iron Butterfly, but no other former Purple alumni.  Just Rod.  The guy who didn’t sing “Highway Star”, “Smoke on the Water”, or “Lazy”.  Needless to say, Rod Evans’ bogus “Deep Purple” did not last as soon as word got out.  The lawyers for the other former Deep Purple members ensured that by running ads in the local papers. “The following members will not be appearing with the band called Deep Purple at [such and such a date and venue] : Ritchie Blackmore, Ian Gillan, Ian Paice, Jon Lord, Roger Glover, Glenn Hughes, David Coverdale.”  A show in Montreal was particularly horrid, and reportedly the band’s stage act involved one of the members bringing out a chain saw to cut stuff up. They were hit with lawsuits galore and quickly packed it in, but not before recording two new songs for a projected new “Deep Purple” studio album. The two songs, “Blood Blister” and “Brum Doogie”, are thankfully lost.  A video of “Smoke on the Water” live in Mexico remains, to remind us why this was not a good idea.  [For more on the bogus “Deep Purple”, click here.]

Clearly, lots of profits were to made if the real Deep Purple were ever to reunite.  They tried earlier on, but were hung up when Ian Gillan joined Black Sabbath.  When Ian’s Sabbath commitments were finished a year later, it finally happened.  Jon Lord had freed himself of Whitesnake, and Ritchie, Roger Glover and Ian Paice were all ready willing and able.  The reunion was on, for real this time.

The band quickly agreed on creating new music (otherwise, what’s the point of it?), and decided that there had to be a level of quality that served the name Deep Purple.  They retreated to the gorgeous Stowe, Vermont and found themselves to be in great spirits and full of ideas.  Another wise decision was the use of bassist Glover to produce.  After his first stint in Purple, he became quite successful as a producer.  He recorded some of the best Nazareth albums, a Judas Priest record (Sin After Sin) , Rainbow, David Coverdale, and countless more.  It only made sense to keep production of the new album within the band when you have a guy like Roger in the band!

The album that resulted, Perfect Strangers, was more modern but unmistakably Deep Purple.  Taking advantage of modern recording studios resulted in an album with rich instrumental tones.  As great as classic Deep Purple albums were sonically, Perfect Strangers has a new richness and clarity.  Jon’s organ is deep and gorgeous, but Ian Paice’s drum sound is monstrous.

The opening track “Knocking at Your Back Door” (hah hah hah) commences with ominous keys from Jon, sounding at first like the pipes of doom.  Then Roger begins a quick pulse, and Paice crashes that cymbal, and my God, Deep Purple is back!  Ritchie and Ian join them for the first Deep Purple epic of the album — and on the first track, no less!  “Knocking at Your Back Door” may be a joke lyrically, but it’s dead serious musically.  It’s Deep Purple, but streamlined.  Extraneous things have been discarded; others are sleeker.  The only disappointment about the song is actually the guitar solo, which just slightly does not fit.  Glover once said about this album that Ritchie struggles with solos in the studio more so than live.  Something about when the red light goes on, he gets cold feet.  There’s some incredible playing in this guitar solo, but parts of it feel out of place and overdone.

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That one minor complaint is probably the only quibble you’ll read here about Perfect Strangers.  The album continues to impress as it plays.  “Under the Gun” is a song that would sound so great live today; shame that it hasn’t been played live in 30 years.  I can’t imagine why.  “Under the Gun” demonstrates the streamlined groove that Purple were going for in the 80’s.  Listen to Paicey’s drums.  They are relentless and powerful, but he’s also playing it simpler than he used to.  This is intentional.  When I say “streamlined”, that doesn’t mean there aren’t long solos, because Ritchie’s here is over a minute long (in a 4:34 song)!

“Nobody’s Home” gives Jon Lord a change to stretch out a bit on the synths, but it’s just a feint.  This track re-writes “Black Night” for 1984, and ties it all up with a little bow in under four minutes.  “Your lights are burnin’ bright, but nobody’s home!” sings Ian, for once not speaking of Blackmore!  Jon takes the spotlight with a nice quick solo on the Hammond, a sound not often heard in ’84.

Side one was closed by the nasty little “Mean Streak”.  It has one of those quirky Gillan lyrics that I like so much. “She came home last night, rockin’ rollin’ drunk. She talk no sense but she sound good so she thunk.”  It’s a cool rock track with a chugging riff; always a deadly combination when wielded by Deep Purple.  It boasts one of Ritchie’s coolest solos on the album.

I will never forget seeing this video on MuchMusic, introduced by Bruce Dickinson.  Of Deep Purple he said, “Well, they’re very good. But not as good at football as they appear. No. They’re not.” The VJ (Erica Ehm) asked, “Why not?”  Dickinson simply responded, “Because they’re not! What a silly question.”

Of all the songs on Perfect Strangers, only one has been consistently played live every tour:  the title track.  This epic, like its  side one counterpart “Knocking at Your Back Door”, opens with Jon’s ominous keys.  This time it’s the old trusty Hammond, and then the band crash in with the riff to kill all riffs.  I think in some respects, this song has become Deep Purple’s “Kashmir”, especially when played in concert.  It has evolved to become more exotic since it was first recorded, though it does contain those flavors here.  The lyrics are ambiguously beautiful.  Back in the Record Store days, I talked to a guy once who thought the lyrics were about God.  I’ll leave it up to you.  Blackmore called it his favourite Deep Purple song.  It’s a tough call, but Top Five for sure.  I cannot survive without this song in my life, period.

Then WHAM! “A Gypsy’s Kiss,” right in the kisser.  If any doubters had thoughts that Purple had lost anything in the past decade, this song proved them dead wrong.  Blazing pace, blazing Paice, the whole place is ablaze!  Again, Ian’s lyrics are awesome, and I love the self-referencing.  “Space truckers free and high, Teamsters get ya by and by.”  I also really like this verse, because, hey. John Wayne, man.

John Wayne, the Alamo,
Crazy Horse, Geronimo,
I’ll smoke a piece with you.
Mind, Body, Heart and Soul,
We got Rock and Roll,
And there’s nothing they can do.

A good Deep Purple album rarely has a slow blues buried deep within.  “Wasted Sunsets” is the album’s heavy blues track, like “When a Blind Man Cries” was to Machine Head (though it was relegated to a mere B-side).  Jon’s organ sets the mood stunningly, and Ritchie absolutely nails it.  I get the feeling that Ian is baring his soul in the lyrics, although he doesn’t seem too regretful of all those one night stands.

For self referencing, no lyric on the album beats out “Hungry Daze”:

The mountain’s getting cold and lonely,
The trees are bare,
We all came out to Montreux,
But that’s another song, you’ve heard it all before!

Regrets?  Hell no.  “Different girls, laughing girls, forever girls and it was loud!”  Gillan has a talent for making cheeky lyrics like this work with serious music.  “Hungry Daze” has that modern Purple groove with the same kind of chugging exotic riff that powers “Perfect Strangers” — but faster!  There’s even backwards tapes (Jon’s organ), a sound unheard on a Deep Purple album since 1969, but back in style in 1984.

Lucky cassette and compact disc buyers got a bonus track: “Not Responsible”.  When I first got the album (on cassette) I wondered, “Why is this song a bonus track? It’s one of the best songs!”  Good question!  (Perhaps because it’s the only song on which Gillan dropped an f-bomb.)  I think it closes the album even better than “Hungry Daze” does.  Lyrically it’s more drinking and debauchery.  “So I’ll raise a glass to you, the foot is on the other shoe.”  I consider “Not Responsible” to be of equal value to any of the better tracks on the album proper, so if you only own this on LP, consider getting this song (legally) to complete the picture.

PERFECT STRANGERS 12 INCHWant more?  There’s one more, but you’ll have to do a little research to get it in full.  “Son of Aleric” is a killer slow groove 10 minute instrumental, with all the flavor of the album.  It was released on the B-side of “Perfect Strangers”.  If you bought the 7″ single, you got the 5:28 edit version.  If you bought the 12″ single, you got the full Monty at 10:03.  The full version was rarely issued on CD.  I have it on a compilation CD with the cumbersome title of Knocking at Your Back Door: The Best of Deep Purple in the 80’s.  But “Son of Aleric” is only on the UK version!  (Other territories just got a live version of “Child in Time” from the live album Nobody’s Perfect.  Bummer.)  This is the kind of open Deep Purple jam that you just want to melt into.  It’s magic.

If you like Deep Purple, but do not own Perfect Strangers, then I advise that you remedy that situation at your earliest convenience.  I am no stranger to this album; I have played it hundreds of times, often more than once in the same day.  I have never grown tired of it.  For that reason, and many more, Perfect Strangers earns the coveted:

5/5 stars

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REVIEW: Deep Purple – “Knocking at Your Back Door” / “Perfect Strangers” (single)

Welcome back to the Week of Singles 3! Each day this week we’ll be looking at rare singles and EPs.

MONDAY: OZZY OSBOURNE – Ultimate Live Ozzy (1986 CBS picture 12″ record)
TUESDAY: BON JOVI – Livin’ On A Prayer (double 12″ EP)
WEDNESDAY: ANTHRAX – Live from Sonisphere Festival 2010 (picture disc EP)

DEEP PURPLE – “Knocking at Your Back Door” / “Perfect Strangers” (1984 Polydor 12″ single)

What a find this was.  While Simon Robinson has kept Deep Purple’s catalogue largely available on CD in lavish packages, here’s an oddity that has slipped through the cracks.  Granted, interviews are fairly low on my collecting priority list.  When something like this falls in your lap, you still gotta bite.

I got this limited edition (#9240/????) at an old used music store in Uptown Waterloo.  I cannot remember the name; perhaps a kind reader will remind me.  They were technically a “Christian” store but still carried music of all varieties.  This 12″ was sitting on their shelves (price long lost) and I snagged it.  The A-side contains not one but two hits, and the B-side, in depth interviews with all five Deep Purple members.  All was harmonious in Deep Purple, coming off the high of making the album Perfect Strangers and embarking on a successful tour.  The dischord did not return until The House of Blue Light.  Therefore these interviews reflected a rare time of excitement and positivity for the short-lived Deep Purple MkIIb.

First, the music:  To get both awesome singles from Perfect Strangers on one 12″ is handy!  These are two of MkIIb’s best tracks, if not the two best tracks, period.  By the end of the A-side, my mind is already blown by the grandiose, intelligent, classic sound of Deep Purple.  Of note, these are the full length tracks, not single edits.

IMG_20140518_065140The interview side is helmed by Tommy Vance for the Friday Rock Show.  Each member is interviewed separately, which is how it should be for Deep Purple.  The amiable Jon speaks for 10 minutes, recalling Deep Purple history, particularly the very early years.  They also discuss Jon’s few writing credits on the new album, a potential pot-stirring question.  Ritchie Blackmore then reveals he doesn’t mind giving up being “the” leader of a band (Rainbow).  Ritchie claims the hardest part of being the leader of a band was “trying to find the perfect member”.  He sounds excited when discussing Deep Purple’s on-stage chemistry.  Meanwhile, Roger Glover sounds like he’s eating a bag of crisps.  He also sheds light on the early stages of the reunion, and the things they discussed to make it work.  I enjoyed Ian Paice’s interview most; he dismisses what was going on in 80’s pop music as “a fashion show”.  He proclaims that his goal for the reunited Deep Purple was to bring back a little bit of class to rock and roll.  In my mind there is no question that they succeeded.  Finally, the singer:  Ian Gillian is soft-spoken and optimistic.  He too is glad to have shed the responsibilities of being the leader of a solo band.

If you’re a Deep Purple collector and you find this record sitting on a shelf for a reasonable price, do not hesitate.  Tommy Vance asks probing, intelligent questions and the result is an interview disc that will enjoy listening to more than once.

5/5 stars

More Deep Purple:

REVIEW: Deep Purple – Perfect Strangers Live (2013 2LP/2CD/1DVD set)

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DEEP PURPLE – Perfect Strangers Live (2013 Eagle Vision 2LP/2CD/1DVD deluxe edition)

Perfect Strangers Live, a new 2013 release of a 1984 recording in Sydney, proves many things but one of them is this:  The proverbial “vaults” must be an endless place where this band is concerned.  Year after year newly released archival recordings hit the shelves, all worthy of your hard-earned music budget dollars.  Perfect Strangers Live is available in multiple formats, but I chose to go with the deluxe 180 gram vinyl set, complete with 2 CD and single DVD versions included.  I bought this via the Deep Purple Appreciation Society, who I especially appreciated this time.  I ordered the set and it got lost in the mail.  After contacting Ann directly she posted another one right off to me which arrived safely to my delight.

IMG_20140217_082459It’s a beautiful beast of a package.  The heavy vinyl gives the set real heft, but it’s also a triple gatefold sleeve as well.  If you loved the reunion era of Deep Purple Mk II then some version of this set will be an obvious must for you.  You can buy it separately as a 2 CD set, a DVD, a 3 disc set, or go hogwild like I did with the vinyl deluxe set.  Hell if you’re really nuts for the band there’s a 3 LP, 2 CD Japanese version with extra goodies.   As to the version I own, the only disappointment comes in the way the CDs and DVD are housed in the set.  I hate spending a lot of money on a package that will absolutely scratch your CDs.  No matter how careful you are, something will get scratched and that’s a bummer.  So I ripped the CDs and put them away for good.

The music contained within is 100% worth your money and probably the best documentation of this era of Deep Purple.  There are other collections out there, most notably the 1985 recording In the Absence of Pink (Knebworth).  There was also the Highway Stars bootleg contained within the Bootleg Series box set.  This one tops the rest sonically.  The recording and mix are excellent.  You could easily mistake it sonically for a modern recording.  Everything is audible, including Gillan’s oft-buried congas.

Speaking of Gillan, the man was in absolutely stunning shape.  I don’t know why the band used backing tapes (quite obviously) during the screams on “Child In Time”.  Gillan’s live screams didn’t need the boost.  Somehow he keeps it going all the way to the 12 minute closer “Smoke on the Water”.  Gillan had just finished his stint with Black Sabbath, but he sounds infinitely better here than on any live recording I’ve heard with Black Sabbath.

It’s hard to pick a single MVP on Perfect Strangers Live, such is the dynamic of Deep Purple when firing on all five cylinders.  Certainly Ritchie Blackmore is a delight, projecting intensity and playfulness at every turn.  During “Strange Kind of Woman”, Blackmore treats the Australians to “Waltzing Matilda”.   On “Under the Gun”, he’s mesmerizing as he tortures his Fender.  Ritchie’s solo that closes a 15 minute “Space Truckin'” is among the most electrifying moments you will hear.  Jon Lord is as wonderful as ever on that same song, and of course “Child In Time”.  Not to go without mention are Glover and Paice.  Ian Paice is the little engine that would not quit; Roger Glover the anchor.

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Also important to mention are the “new” songs.  Deep Purple played more than half of their new LP including both singles:  “Knockin’ On Your Back Door”, “Perfect Strangers”, “Nobody’s Home”, “Under the Gun” and “A Gypsy’s Kiss” (preceded by a bluesy Blackmore jam).  Purple rarely played so much off Perfect Strangers at one time, and some of these versions are just scorching!  “Nobody’s Home”, possibly “Under the Gun” too, are superior to the album versions…even when Gillan forgets the words. (That’s kind of my favourite part.)

As for the DVD, it too looks and sounds amazing.  I don’t know what else is out there video-wise from this period but I haven’t seen anything better than this.   You know Blackmore and cameras, he’s often got his side to the camera, or he turns away just as they turn to him.  That’s the man in black, that’s the enigma.  It’s a great DVD, although Lord and Paice are often buried behind their instruments.  Lord goes from keyboard to keyboard, extracting different sounds.

The cherry on top is a 20+ minute tour documentary.  It’s a rare look at a time when Deep Purple was more or less getting along as well as they ever would!

I haven’t played the vinyl.  I haven’t decided if I will.  Let me know if you care enough for me to review the vinyl, and I’ll consider it as a possibility.  I’ll be honest, after struggling to get the records back in the sleeve after taking the photos for this review, I’m not eager to take them out again.

4.5/5 stars

More PURPLE at mikeladano.com:

DEEP PURPLE – “Above and Beyond” (CD and 7″ singles, Edel)
DEEP PURPLE – ”All the Time in the World” (2013 Edel single)
DEEP PURPLE – The Battle Rages On… (1993 BMG)
DEEP PURPLE – Collector’s Edition: The Bootleg Series 1984-2000 (12 CD set)
DEEP PURPLE – Come Taste the Band (35th Anniversary edition)
DEEP PURPLE – Deep Purple (1969 EMI, 2000 reissue)
DEEP PURPLE – Inglewood (2002 Purple Records/Sonic Zoom)
DEEP PURPLE – Listen, Learn, Read On (6 CD box set, 2002)
DEEP PURPLE – Machine Head (40th Anniversary Deluxe Edition + vinyl + In Concert ’72 vinyl)
DEEP PURPLE – NOW What?! (2013 edel)
DEEP PURPLE – Perks and Tit (2003 Purple Records/Sonic Zoom)
DEEP PURPLE – Power House (1977 Warner Bros, Japanese import)
DEEP PURPLE – Rapture of the Deep (2 CD special edition)
DEEP PURPLE – Shades 1968-1998 (4 CD Rhino 1999 box set)
DEEP PURPLE – Stormbringer (35th Anniversary Edition)

REVIEW: Deep Purple – Shades 1968-1998 (box set)

DEEP PURPLE – Shades 1968-1998 (Rhino 1999 box set)

I was really excited about this 1999 box set when it came out, but what it came down to was this: I paid “x” amount of dollars for just two songs that I didn’t have on other recent Deep Purple CDs. One song, “Slow Down Sister”  by Deep Purple Mk 5 was only available here. It’s since been reissued on the Slaves and Masters deluxe edition.  The other is a very rare and very great 1971 live version of “No No No” from a compilation called Ritchie Blackmore/Rock Profile Vol. 1. So there’s your bait.

Unfortunately, the booklet and discography is loaded with errors. This was disappointing. The packaging is nice, with that sheet metal looking embossed cover. It opens kind of awkwardly though, making it hard to handle. And man, there are so many Deep Purple box sets out there now! I have Listen, Learn, Read On which is six CDs dedicated entirely to just 1968-1976. Obviously you can’t squeeze Deep Purple’s career onto just four discs. This set covers 1968-1998, which is a huge chunk.  It’s almost the entire Jon Lord tenure.  It skimps in some places and confounds me in others. Usually, Rhino do such a great job, but I felt this one didn’t live up to their other products.

SHADES_0003Disc one covers 1968 to 1971 (Shades Of to Fireball). The tracks listed here as demos or rarities are from the Deep Purple remastered CDs, all except for the aforementioned “No No No” which really is awesome. If you have the great Singles A’s & B’s and the Deep Purple remasters, you have all this stuff. Except maybe the edit version of “”River Deep, Mountain High”, I’m not certain about that one. You get a good smattering of favourites on here, like “Kentucky Woman”, “Speed King”, “Child In Time” and so on, but it’s not really sequenced all that well. The slow-ish Deep Purple Mk I material fits awkwardly with the Mk II.  Other songs of note include non-album singles and B-sides such as “Hallelujah” (first recording with Ian Gillan) and “The Bird Has Flown”.  The version of “Speed King” included is the full UK cut, with the crazy noise intro.

Disc two is 1971 to 1972: more Fireball, and Machine Head. All these tracks can be found on Deep Purple remasters. There  are some excellent tracks here, such as the rare “Painted Horse” and “Freedom”. “Painted Horse”, a personal favourite, has been available for decades on an album called Power House. I guess Blackmore didn’t like them at the time, so they languished until the band broke up before the record label released them. “I’m Alone” was rare for a long time, and “Slow Train” was completely undiscovered until the Fireball remaster. I like that “Anyone’s Daughter” is on here, a very underrated song.  Of course you will hear all the big hits on this disc: The studio versions of “Smoke on the Water”, “Fireball”, Highway Star” and “Space Truckin'”. This will be many people’s favourite disc.

The third CD continues with Mk II.  It starts off with the Made In Japan live version of “Smoke” which is fine, but now you’ve heard it twice.  Soon, it’s  “Woman From To-kay-yo”, “Mary Long”, and the scathing “Smooth Dancer”.  Then Gillan and Glover are out, and in comes Coverdale and Hughes  One rarity on this disc is the instrumental “Coronarias Redig”, which dates from the Burn period. It also includes some of Mk III’s most impressive work, including two of the best tunes from Come Taste The Band. Conspicuous by their absence is the epic “You Keep On Moving”, and Blackmore-era fave “Gypsy”. You will, however get “Burn”, and “Stormbringer” from Stormbringer itself.

SHADES_0005The fourth CD is the one that ticks me off the most. This covers the reunion era, from 1984 to the then-most recent album Abandon in 1998. The hits are here, “Perfect Strangers” and “Knocking’ On Your Back Door”, as well as some singles from the Joe Lynn Turner era. What ticks me off here is the song selection. “Fire In The Basement”? What? That song kind of sucks, why not “The Cut Runs Deep”? Only one song from The Battle Rages On is included, only one from the excellent Purpendicular, and only one from the recent Abandon? And not even the best songs? That makes no sense.

To short-change the later era of Deep Purple only serves to short-change the listener.  The band were revitalized and rejuventated by Steve Morse, and made some really good, well received music. I saw them live with Morse in 1996.

From The House of Blue Light era, a single edit of “Bad Attitude” is included, which is probably rare.  What you won’t get is the full, 10 minute + version of the instrumental “Son Of Aleric”. This is one of the best lesser known tunes from the reunion era. Instead, you get the truncated 7″ single version. That makes the 10 minute version frustratingly hard to get. It was originally released on a 12″ single, which you may be able to find. You might have better luck finding it on the European version of Knocking at Your Back Door: The Best of Deep Purple in the 80’s. It was included there, replacing “Child In Time” from the US version. I managed to get it thanks to my mom & dad who bought it for me at an HMV store in Edinburgh (along with Restless Heart by Whitesnake).

SHADES_0004Mick Wall’s liner notes offer the Morse years a mere mention, and end on a nostalgia note of “bring back Blackmore.”  Come on. Let’s focus on the present of a band that shows no signs of slowing down, shall we? But this box set short changes the present, and by picking it up you won’t hear such awesome later songs as “Sometimes I Feel Like Screaming” or “Fingers to the Bone”.

I know many reviews of this set are glowing, and each reviewer has their own reasons for doing so. I can’t. This band is too important, too vital, and dammit, still alive! This box set simply doesn’t do them justice. I was ticked off when I bought it and realized I owned almost all the “rare and unreleased” material. Collectors won’t find much here worth the coin spent, and rock fans who just want a great box set of Deep Purple won’t get to hear enough Morse.

Somebody dropped the ball on this one! 2/5 stars.

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REVIEW: Deep Purple – Collector’s Edition: The Bootleg Series 1984-2000 (12 CD)

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DEEP PURPLE – Collector’s Edition: The Bootleg Series 1984-2000 (2000 Thames Thompson, Australia only, 12 CD set)

There are two (!) 12 CD Deep Purple bootleg collections; this is the first and best of them.  Although Deep Purple’s career is chock full of live albums chronicling this period, this set does feature many treats that are hard to find or not available on official live albums.  These really are bootlegs; the band decided to release their own versions of pre-existing audience bootleg albums!  All artwork, errors included, are copied from the original bootleg releases.

Before you get too excited I will state right off the bat:  There’s no Deep Purple Mk V or VI.  No Joe Lynn Turner, or Joe Satriani.  There is, however, a show from 1995 with Steve Morse, previewing tracks from the yet-to-be recorded Purpendicular album.  This transitional period is very cool.  You get to hear Morse perform “Anyone’s Daughter”, which was dropped from the set not long after.  Since Morse and Blackmore’s styles are vastly different, it’s a cool take on a track that you don’t hear often as it is.  In addition, you’ll hear Morse reinvent “Woman From Tokyo” on a bootleg from 2000.

BOOTLEGS FRONTThe Bootleg Series also contains my favourite version of “The Battle Rages On” ever released.  1995, Ft. Lauderdale Florida, Ian Gillan tore the roof off with that song.  In my mind I always imagined his screams directed towards Blackmore, even though he was probably furthest from Gillan’s mind.  It’s a magical version, you can hear the electricity and the emotion.  Just awesome.

Also a treat is a revisiting of the old In Rock classic, “Into the Fire” from 2000.  This version crushes!  Unfortunately, a stiff and slow version of “Sometimes I Feel Like Screaming” follows it.  Deep Purple are that kind of band, usually they just kill it.  But their history does contain rare stumbles, and this take of “Sometimes I Feel Like Screaming” is nothing stacked up against other versions available.  On the other hand, Purple just smoke the Abandon track “’69” immediately afterwards!  They extend this concise rocker to include an extended jam with a nod and wink to “Paint It, Black”.

Other highlights:  Blackmore’s solo spot “Difficult to Cure”.  Rarely heard 80’s-era tracks such as “Under the Gun”, “A Gypsy’s Kiss”, “Nobody’s Home”, “The Unwritten Law”, “Bad Attitude”, “Hard Lovin’ Woman”, and “Dead or Alive”.  You can’t buy a live version of “The Unwritten Law” anywhere else.  “Fools”, a rarely played track from Fireball, simply crushes.  Holy Ian Paice, Batman!  Steve puts his own slant on the guitar part in “Fools”, but it is his solo spot on “Cascades” that is truly intoxicating.

These being bootlegs, don’t expect sound quality or packaging or liner notes, unfortunately.  The sound quality does improve as you go from the oldest discs to the most recent.   The oldest shows have a lot of crowd noise, and poor sounding drums.  By the time you get the Japan 2000 show, things sound much better although can still stray towards muddy at times.  Packaging-wise, what you see is what you get:  A box, six jewel cases, front covers and back covers.

This was an Australia-only release.  I have no idea what it’s worth today.  I haven’t seen one in years.

4/5 stars

Bootlegs:

Highway Stars (Adelaide Australia, 11/30/1984)

Third Night (Sweden, 06/16/1985)

Hungary Days (Budapest Hungary, 01/28/1987)

In Your Trousers (Stockholm Sweden, 11/13/1993)

Purple Sunshine (Ft. Lauderdale Florida, 03/04/1995)

Made In Japan 2000 (Osaka Japan 04/01/2000)

I decided that there’s no point rating these bootlegs individually.  For one, it’s a set, and when it came down to splitting hairs, I like them equally.  And that speaks volumes as to the consistency of this band.

REVIEW: Deep Purple – The Battle Rages On… (1993)

TBRO FRONT

DEEP PURPLE – The Battle Rages On… (1993 BMG)

After the ill-fated (but personally enjoyed) Slaves and Masters, Deep Purple realized the only way forward was with Mk II screamer Ian Gillan back at the mike. With a full album’s worth of material already written with former singer Joe Lynn Turner, all Gillan had to do was turn up and re-write the melody and lyrics. Much to Blackmore’s chagrin! Blackmore had no qualms telling Gillan that he preferred the original lyric and melody to “Time To Kill”.

Much heavier than Slaves and Masters, The Battles Rages On is much more in line with albums such as Fireball, Perfect Strangers and Machine Head. Lord’s Hammond organ is much more in the forefront. However, a vintage sound does not a great album make. The Battle Rages On has 10 tracks, 5 of which are good and 5 of which are filler. This was disappointing for me personally, but some (M.E.A.T. Magazine and Martin Popoff included) have rated this album very high.  Joe Lynn Turner derisively calls this album The Cattle Grazes On.

The five tunes I like: “The Battle Rages On”, “Anya”, “Time To Kill”, “Ramshackle Man”, “Solitaire”.

The title track is absolutely monstrous. I remember hearing it on the radio and thinking, “Bloody well right!” Big beefy riff, angry lyrics!

“Annihilation, kill ’em all. Capitulation, watch the mighty fall. The road to glory is lined in red, and though the reason now is gone…The Battle Rages On!”  (Always wondered if this was about Gillan and Blackmore.)

The song is a Purple epic, along the lines of “Perfect Strangers” or “Knockin’ At Your Back Door”. Just an awesome track.  I understand that in 2013 they have actually returned it to the set.

“Anya” is a keyboard driven rocker, Jon Lord style, lots of drama. “Time To Kill” is sort of a heavy pop rocker with Gillan trying to get philosophical with the lyrics, which Blackmore hated. “Ramshackle Man” is blues rock, pure and simple as Purple have specialized in. “Solitaire” is mournful, sad, kind of unlike anything Purple had really done before.  Gillan’s droning melody seals the deal.

The rest of the songs just do nothing for me. Some, like “One Man’s Meat” have decent riffs and parts, but weak melodies and lyrics.  As songs, they don’t add up to a satisfying listen.  It is a shame, given the strength of the good songs on the album.

Blackmore left in the middle of the tour.  Joe Satriani filled in, and there was talk that he wouldn’t mind joining Purple full time.  His time proved to be temporary, and Steve Morse has been in the band almost 20 years now. When Joe Satriani was in the band, they did an awesome version of “Ramshackle Man”, which I have on a video bootleg from the European tour.  There was an official live album with Blackmore from the tour, called Come Hell Or High Water.  As well, you could buy official bootlegs with both Morse and Blackmore in a box set called Collector’s Edition: The Bootleg Series 1984-2000.  And let’s not forget the Come Hell Or High Water video, with Blackmore throwing that water bottle in Gillan’s general direction…

Check out Satriani’s outro solo starting at about 7:07…smokin’!

To me, Purple’s true comeback was 1996’s Purpendicular. Having said that, the five good songs on The Battle Rages On are worth the purchase at a reasonable price. And hey, maybe Popoff was right, and I’m just not getting it. You decide.

3/5 stars

And check out these cool supplementary releases, all of which deserve their own individual reviews.

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!