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.
It’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.
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.
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)