DEEP PURPLE – Space Vol 1 & 2 (Live in Aachen 1970) (2001 Sonic Zoom)
Over the course of the decades, Deep Purple and their official Appreciation Society have found numerous interesting live recordings to release for the fans. From significant moments to obscure gigs, each disc has had their own points of interest. It doesn’t hurt that Deep Purple never did the exact same thing twice.
This German gig from 1970 wasn’t well documented or reported on. Purple were on a large bill including Pink Floyd, Free, Traffic and Tyrannosaurus Rex. It’s possible but not known for certain that Kraftwerk may have also played that day. Bootleggers made sure that at least some of it was recorded. The released bootleg H-Bomb was one of the earliest Deep Purple live recordings available, and has been available in bootleg form since it taped. According to organist Jon Lord, he heard that the bootleggers sneaked in an eight track mixer inside a Volkswagon, hidden under the stage. When they had the chance to hear the recordings on LP, the band were actually impressed with the overall quality.
In 2001, Sonic Zoom released the show on CD and called it Space Vol 1 & 2. Since the original tapes were long lost, Sonic Zoom went back to the earliest vinyl pressings, and cleaned them up, using the best sounding versions of each track.
What you get here is only four longs, but quite a long set, being well over an hour long. Purple opened with their instrumental “Wring That Neck”, stretched out to include lots of solos and jams. They tease out recognizable melodies such as “Hall of the Mountain King”, “Jingle Bells”, and a jazzy “Three Blind Mice”, disguised on rock instruments. Vocals were scarce that evening, perhaps because Ian Gillan was suffering from a sore throat. As such his vocals don’t come through as well, but they also often sound as if he’s singing into a tin can. Though most everything else is well recorded enough, when the vocals do happen such as on “Black Night”, they are very rough and tumble. Jon Lord was also known to be very hard on his Hammond, and like electric whip cracks you often hear the instrument yelping away in the background.
The Stones cover “Paint It, Black” is mostly another excuse to jam on something. 11 minutes of equipment-destroying guitar, drums, bass and organ madness is a lot for anyone to digest. If you dig drum solos, Ian Paice will keep you mesmerized for many minutes of straight high-velocity rhythmic instructional. You’ll know it’s over when the other guys finally come back! That’s nothing, though. Half an hour of “Mandrake Root” awaits, one of the longest versions known. Ian spends a lot of it screaming, but when it’s jam time you can hear him on the congas. The first half of the jam is loose but at least structured. Lord considered this his best keyboard work that had been captured so far. Interestingly, part of this jam resembles a future song called “Highway Star”. Then, the second half descends into pure madness. Atonal noise, feedback and electric pain dominate these 10 minutes. It is an endurance challenge to be sure.
It is not known for certain if any other songs were played that day, but because it was a festival it seems likely that Purple played for this hour and nothing more. According to the only written account of the day, Purple won over the festival crowd by powering over them. That much is clear from this recording.