tommy bolin

#746: Deepest Purple

A prequel to #462:  The Deep Purple Project

GETTING MORE TALE #746: Deepest Purple

Black Sabbath appeared on my radar before Deep Purple did.  Perhaps the first true “heavy metal” album I ever heard was Born Again.  Best friend Bob owned it; he raved about a song called “Zero the Hero”.  He was on to something.  Even though his cassette copy was murky and muddy, the chorus rose above.

What you gonna be what you gonna be brother – Zero the Hero,
Don’t you wanna be don’t you wanna be brother – Zero the Hero,
When you gonna be when you gonna be brother – Zero the Hero,
Impossibility, impissibolity mother – really a hero.

It was the first Black Sabbath I ever heard.  I didn’t know they had any other singers until one day I was sitting in the basement, recording videos off next door neighbour George.  One that I had selected to record was called “Neon Nights” by Black Sabbath.  By then, I knew enough to know that Black Sabbath had a “moustache guy” on guitar.  I was surprised to see a doppelganger on bass, but the singer kinda looked familiar.

I casually asked George, “Did Black Sabbath ever have anything to do with Ronnie James Dio?”

“Yeah, he was their singer!” he told me.  My world expanded that day.  It would be longer still before I had the chance to hear any original Sabbath with Ozzy.

I was picking up so much musical information from the neighbour kids.  I was intrigued by bands like Kiss, who had many lineups and sounds to go with it.  Clearly, Black Sabbath was one of those bands too.  “Neon Nights” didn’t sound much like “Zero the Hero”.

I sought to learn all I could about rock and roll.  When I had accumulated enough knowledge (barely), I made a little heavy metal trivia game.  I will never forget one question in particular:

Q: What do Ozzy Osbourne, Ronnie James Dio, and the lead singer from Deep Purple have in common?

A: They were all in Black Sabbath.

There are two things amusing about that.  1) I didn’t even know his name, and 2) “the” lead singer of Deep Purple!  Hah!  Finding out about David Coverdale?  That was a whole other story!

I made sure I learned his name quickly.  Ian Gillan was recognisable because of his long black hair often obscuring his face.  But I wasn’t ready to delve into Deep Purple yet.  The easiest (and cheapest) way for me to discover new music was by watching the Pepsi Power Hour on MuchMusic: two hours a week of all kinds of hard rock.  But Purple didn’t get much play.  Much didn’t have any clips of them in the 1970s, and in fact only had two Purple videos to run:  “Perfect Strangers” and “Knocking at Your Back Door“.  They weren’t exactly frequent flyers, so my exposure to Deep Purple took a lot of time to unfold.

Black Sabbath may have been my gateway to Deep Purple, but Purple eventually became an obsession that surpassed them.  In fact I used to go by the online name “Purpendicular”, named for one of their best albums.  I was known as “Purp” for so long that it became a bit of a phenomenon online in Canada and the UK when “Purp Ate My Balls” T-shirts were actually made for sale.  Most were in the UK.  This is an actual, true story!  A handful of people still call me “Purp”.

 

When people know you as “Purpendicular”, you better be a serious fan.  And I am.  I love Deep Purple.  I don’t think anyone can touch them for sheer integrity.

I floated through highschool without hearing a lot of Purple.  Much acquired a few more videos:  “Bad Attitude” and “Hush”.  They did not get played often.  I only caught “Bad Attitude” once or twice.  There was little interest in the band, it seemed.  Magazines announced that Ian Gillan had quit at the time of the Nobody’s Perfect album.  About a year later came the news that they hired on former Rainbow singer Joe Lynn Turner.

It took some time, but eventually Purple returned with new music.  I happened to have the radio on one afternoon in late 1990 when Q-107 debuted a brand new song called “The Cut Runs Deep”.

“At first it doesn’t sound like Purple,” said the DJ, “but then Jon Lord comes in with that Hammond organ!”

I hit “record” on the tape deck.

The Earth moved.  What a song.  What power!  And speed!  Rewind, hit “play” and listen again.  It was 5:42 of full-steam rock, with the kind of playing that makes the genre awesome.  Purple were heavier than I expected.  My ears were beginning to open.

I asked a friend at school named Andy about the new album.  Turns out, his brother had it.

“Is it heavy?” I queried.

He chuckled in bemusement.  “Heavier than Ian Gillan?  No.  No.”

I tried not to be crushed.

“It’s still good,” he added.

If it wasn’t for my sudden new interest in Led Zeppelin, that might have been the start of my Purple obsession.  Instead, I spent a year or so discovering Robert Plant, Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones and John Bonham.  To make matters even more congested, I soon found Queen, and began buying up old Black Sabbath albums too.

Finally, in the mid 90s, it was time to focus.  Once I had Deep Purple properly in the crosshairs, I commenced collecting.

My first doesn’t really count.  It was Purple’s latest, Slaves and Masters, their only album with Joe Lynn Turner.  It doesn’t count because it was just a taped copy.  Back when you could still rent CDs, I borrowed a copy from a video store up in Kincardine Ontario.  I put it in my boombox and began recording.  I remember my dad listening in on the last track, the epic “Wicked Ways”.  He asked who the band was.

“They are more of a musician’s band, aren’t they,” he remarked.  Yes!  Exactly.  My dad wasn’t into rock music, but he could hear that quality musicianship.  They were far and above the average rock band.

Slaves and Masters is a brilliant album, and although a full third of it is ballads, it’s hard not to like.  There are a lot of good songs on there.  So what if they are ballads?  “The Cut Runs Deep” and “Wicked Ways” more than made up for the lighter material.

Then:  two hits compilations.  Knocking At Your Back Door (a new release of 80s material) and Deepest Purple (all 70s).  This gave me plenty to absorb in a short period of time.  The most important song from this pair was “Child in Time”.  It appeared in live form on Knocking At Your Back Door and Ian Gillan was still in good enough vocal shape to do it.  I loved both versions.  When I played it in my bedroom, my sister could hear it through the door.  I played it so often that she gave it a name.  She called it the “Ahh Ahh Ahh” song.

Next:  Perfect Strangers.  A rewarding album in the long term.  Took a few spins to get there.

By 1993, Deep Purple got Ian Gillan back for another kick at the can.  The classic Mk II lineup was intact:  Richie Blackmore, Ian Gillan, Ian Paice, Jon Lord, and Roger Glover.  They did a so-so album called The Battle Rages On…, and it really did rage on.  As I learned more about the band, I discovered that even though they were all intelligent, schooled musicians, they fought like children!  This reunion was not built to last, though it was my next Deep Purple album.

I certainly didn’t expect Blackmore to quit.  And I didn’t even know about it.

The mid 90s were a bit of a black hole for metal information.  Few magazines were covering classic rock bands anymore.  I didn’t know that Blackmore quit until their live album, Come Hell or High Water, was out.  I found out from the liner notes!

The internet was in its infancy, but I did some digging and found out that Purple were playing live with a new guitar player.  Could you believe it?  Joe Satriani temped with them!, but he was already gone! They were on to a new guy.  The review that I read said specifically that the new guy “looked a lot like Steve Morse”.

Well shit!

Steve Morse was a legend in his own time!  I knew him by reputation only.  And I was really intrigued by this news.

I had to special order the new Deep Purple with Morse from the US.  It was 1995 and I was working at the Record Store.  You couldn’t even get it in Canada yet.  That’s how bad it was for rock bands in the 90s.  But I did get it, paying $24.99 for the import.  Purpendicular arrived one Tuesday afternoon.  T-Rev was working when it came in.  “I hope you don’t mind, but I played a little bit of your Deep Purple.  It wasn’t sealed when it came.  It sounds pretty good.”

He apologised for playing it but there was no need.  I thought it was cool that he was interested.  Turns out, he liked that album a lot and ended up buying a copy himself!

Indeed, Purpendicular is a special album.  There is magic in those grooves.  Maybe it was the freedom of working without the yoke of Blackmore.  Perhaps it was the rejuvenation of Steve Morse.  It was probably both and much more, but what happened with Purpendicular has never been repeated.  No matter how many good albums they have done since (and there have been several, including four with Don Airey replacing the late Jon Lord), none have had the…I hate to use this cliche over again, but…none have had the magic that Purpendicular has.  It’s impossible to put into words, but easy to hear for yourself.

I mean, I friggin’ named myself after that album!  There are T-shirts with my face on them that say “Purp Ate My Balls”.  That’s dedication, pal!

 

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REVIEW: Deep Purple – Purple Chronicle – The Best Selection of 25th Anniversary (3 CD Japanese box set)

DEEP PURPLE – Purple Chronicle – The Best Selection of 25th Anniversary (1993 triple CD Warner Japan box set)

Here is something clearly designed for the archivist, not the casual listener.  Purple Chronicle is a strange but in-depth collection of singles, album cuts, B-sides and rarities.  With tracks spanning 1968 to 1976 (Deep Purple’s original run) there is much to cover.  There are even two mono mixes that are still unavailable on CD anywhere else.

The first two discs comprise a chronological look at the most key Deep Purple tracks.  Five songs are earmarked to represent the Rod Evans era, including the big one “Hush” and Neil Diamond’s “Kentucky Woman”.  It’s a mere brief glance at the three albums they did with Rod, but there are more rarities on Disc 3.

The classic Deep Purple Mk II era featuring Ian Gillan takes over on the next 11 tracks.  From “Speed King” through to “Fireball” and “Strange Kind of Woman”, the big hits are here.  Who Do We Think We Are from 1973 only has one track present (“Woman From Tokyo”).  “Into the Fire” is pleasing to find here, as one of Deep Purple’s short and sweet heavy metal stomps.

Deep Purple Mk III and IV (featuring David Coverdale and Glenn Hughes behind the microphones) are given 12 tracks to stretch out.  They don’t anything as long as Gillan’s “Child in Time” which exceeds 10 minutes, so this is still fairly proportional.  The best songs, both rockers and ballads, are laid out from their three records.  They include the unforgettable “Burn” and “Stormbringer”, the extended blues “Mistreated” and underappreciated gems such as “You Keep on Moving” and “Comin’ Home” with Tommy Bolin on guitar.

All of the songs on the first two discs would have been available on standard Deep Purple CDs at the time.  The third disc has a bunch of tracks that were (and some that still are) harder to come by.  It is dominated by B-sides, single edits and assorted rarities.  “Black Night” appears for the first time, as a single edit and live B-side.  Indeed there is a lot of repeat of Disc 3.  “Speed King” for example is here twice more, with both of its extended intros (noise plus keyboards, or just keyboards).  These weren’t on the typical CD release of Deep Purple In Rock at the time.  There are single edits of “Woman From Tokyo”, “Highway Star”, “Lazy” and “Burn” (two edits!).  And there are lots of rarities galore, culled from B-sides and Purple’s outtake album Power House.  Some, such as Rod Evans’ “Emmeretta”, and Gillan’s “Painted Horse” and “Cry Free”, are true unsung Purple classics.  “Coronarias Redig” is notable as the only instrumental of the Coverdale era.

The two tracks that are still true rarities today are the mono mixes of “Smoke on the Water” and its live counterpart.  More versions of “Smoke”?  Yes indeed, but unless you have heard them in mono before, you have not heard them all.  These are not “fold down” mono mixes made by just converting the stereo track to mono.  These are audibly different in subtle ways.

This is the kind of set that will be difficult and expensive to track down.  If you spy it somewhere, be aware of the value to collectors.  (I was fortunate that a copy in great condition just dropped in my lap for cheap.)  Consider it if collecting Purple is your thing.  Includes full booklet and poster with family tree.

3.5/5 stars

REVIEW: Deep Purple – This Time Around – Live in Tokyo ’75 (2001)

scan_20160925DEEP PURPLE – This Time Around – Live in Tokyo ’75 (2001 EMI)

This shouldn’t have been the “last concert in Japan”!

Many of the old, post-breakup-issued Deep Purple live albums are virtually impossible to find today on CD. One of those is Last Concert In Japan, which was originally released only in that country. It featured the Mk IV lineup of Deep Purple: David Coverdale, Glenn Hughes, Ian Paice, Jon Lord, and the late Tommy Bolin on lead guitar. As a matter of historical releases for my collection, I also own the original Last Concert in Japan on both LP and CD.

The tragic story goes that while some members of Purple were rejuvinated with the fresh blood that Bolin donated, others were dead tired of it all.  Reviews were spotty and word was spreading that Deep Purple were over.  Both Bolin and Hughes were in the throes of serious drug habits.  On the night of the recording of Last Concert in Japan, Bolin was shooting up and caused his arm to go numb.  Frantic attempts to get him stageworthy worked and he managed to barely play the show.  Guitar parts are sloppy and that’s what people remember because it went on LP.  The original one-record set from the show has now been expanded to two lengthy CDs, 17 tracks. It’s been remixed and remastered. Production was supervised by Purple expert Simon Robinson, so you know that the quality level is about as good as it could be.  Because of the fully expanded tracklist, some of the finer live Deep Purple moments have been restored to this album, such as a 16 minute “Gettin’ Tighter” which was too long to include on a single record.

Some flaws do remain of course. Tommy’s guitar is now barely audible in the “Burn” riff as opposed to non-existent.  However the overall experience is very listenable.  It’s a darkly interesting album to own, because within months Purple disbanded, and a year later Tommy Bolin would be dead.

If you already own Last Concert In Japan, this purchase gives you over an hour more of unreleased music. Even so, all of it has been remixed, so you are still in for a fresh listen with open ears. If you already own dozens of Deep Purple live albums (believe me, it’s possible), this one has five songs that you can’t get elsewhere in live versions.  It’s even a better listen than In Concert/King Biscuit Flower Hour (aka, On The Wings Of A Russian Foxbat) with stronger vocals. Plus you get Tommy singing on “Wild Dogs”.  Worth the double-dip.

4/5 stars

REVIEW: Deep Purple – Come Taste the Band (35th Anniversary edition)

DEEP PURPLE – Come Taste the Band (35th Anniversary edition, 2010 originally 1975, EMI)

For those keeping score, now every single album from the original run of Deep Purple 1968-1976 has been remastered with some sort of deluxe edition. Come Taste The Band is the final album of this series. Deep Purple imploded shortly after and the band was no more until Perfect Strangers in 1983.

Personally I have always liked Come Taste The Band right from first listen. However, I never heard the album until 1996 so the idea of a great Purple album without Richie Blackmore was not foreign to me. With open ears you can really appreciate what Deep Purple were up to on this powerfully rocking album. It has a solid groove, a much harder sound than Stormbringer and some greasy unconventional guitar playing from Tommy Bolin. Everybody is playing amazingly, even the coked-out Glenn Hughes who just rips it to shreds on “Gettin’ Tighter”, my favourite track. Paicey is awesome on said breakneck track.

Really though there are no losers on Come Taste The Band. Every song is incredible right from the opener of the ferocious “Comin’ Home” to the philosophical “You Keep On Movin'”. Another personal favourite is the sliding groover “Dealer”, a tale of warning from David Coverdale to Glenn Hughes about his habit. Bolin takes his first and only studio Deep Purple lead vocal on the bridge.

IMG_00000713As with all previous special editions, the liner notes are excellent, revealing, and loaded with pictures. One fact I didn’t know: The band were going to kick out Hughes if he didn’t kick the coke.

Bonus material is present. The single edit of “You Keep On Movin'” is tacked on to the end of disc one, but this is previously available on such albums as Singles A’s and B’s. The second disc contains the entire album remixed by Kevin Shirley. Shirley is truly a great mixer. It’s hard to discern what he did differently here, except the songs are a bit more punchy. Some now continue on past their original fade points, revealing never before heard playing from the band, right to the end of the song. This was done on previous remasters such as Machine Head and I like this touch a lot.

Two previously unreleased tracks are included. These tracks will be worth the price of purchase alone to Purple collectors. “Same In L.A.” is a nearly complete song with lead vocals and lyrics. If it had been included on the original album, it would easily have been the most pop, it sounds more suited to Stormbringer material. “Bolin Paice Jam” is also unreleased — not even heard before on Days May Come and Days May Go or the limited edition 1420 Beachwood Drive albums. This is a massive, fiery jam capturing the best of both players. Difficult to understand why this was not included on the aforementioned two compilations, but it’s just awesome and I’m glad it’s out.

Once again, Simon Robinson has outdone himself with the final Deep Purple remaster of this series. These albums, while expensive and difficult to obtain (mine took almost two months to ship) are well worth it to the faithful.

5/5 stars

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!

BOOK REVIEW: Paul Di’Anno – The Beast (2010)

Part 10 of my series of Iron Maiden reviews!  Although this book came out in 2010, I decided to talk about Paul Di’Anno during the 1987 period, when Paul released his Paul Di’Anno’s Battlezone album, Children of Madness.  This was the first time I heard any of Paul’s post-Maiden music.

PAUL DI’ANNO – The Beast (2010 John Black Publishing)

Paul Di’Anno, when not in jail for assault or disability fraud, is in a state of perpetual arrested development.  Scattered among the cool rock stories about touring with Kiss and rocking the stage aside Steve Harris, Di’Anno is like a little boy who will never learn his lesson.  Girlfriend after girlfriend, fight after fight, arrest after arrest, Di’Anno never seems to grow up.  As if an apology makes up for it, he says he is “deeply ashamed of” a drunken incident when he repeatedly pummeled a woman half his size in the face.  Di’Anno states that ,”if I could turn back the clock, I would,” but he also admits that it wasn’t the first time it happened.

Paul continues to snort and drink everything that passes his way, while bedding every “bird” and smashing every bloke that gets in his way.  In the meantime, there’s this story in the background about this band he was in called Iron Maiden.  He talks about singing Deep Purple’s “Dealer” and “All Right Now” by Free at his audition.  He describes the feeling of helping to build this band, and it sounds like being in the center of a tornado.  It doesn’t take long for fame to have its effect in a negative way.

Only two albums in, Paul sheds some light on his departure.  There were musical differences as he did not like the polished, more progressive direction that the band was seeking.  His heart was no longer in it, and he knew it.  This seems to have manifested itself in bad behaviour, and deteriorating relationships.  After a final gig in Copenhagen, Paul handed in his resignation.  While he has nothing bad to say about the guy who replaced him, he has special praise for Adrian Smith, “the best all around guitarist that Maiden have had.”

I just wish this book was more about the music and less about the drinking, drugs, and fighting.  It doesn’t take too long to realize that Paul Di’Anno isn’t much for self-improvement.  He tells his story with several winks and smiles, and lots of laughs too.  At this same time this there’s dark undercurrent of violence and underachievement.

The Beast isn’t what I’d call an inspiring read, but it’s raw and real.  The man has loads of stories.  Whether they’re your cup of tea is really up to you!

2.5/5 stars

REVIEW: Deep Purple – Listen, Learn, Read On (6 CD box set)

In ages past when spells were cast

In a time of men and steel

When a man was taught no special thing

It was all done by feel

So, listen

So, learn

So, read on….

PURPLE BOX FRONT

DEEP PURPLE – Listen, Learn, Read On (6 CD box set, 2002)  (currently $298 on amazon.ca)

I recently listened to this box set again over the course of two weekends. Delving into the gorgeous box, 6 CDs, 120 pages of text, pictures, and credits, I felt fully immersed in a Purple world. Of all the Deep Purple box sets, and there are a lot of them, this one truly is a must. Covering the years of Deep Purple’s first era (1968-1976) plus surprises, there has never been a more comprehensive set of rarities and album cuts by this band.

Starting off with solo tracks by each member of the first four versions of Deep Purple, I never had any of these tracks before, except for the one by Episode Six. I was really impressed with The Outlaws’ (featuring Blackmore) version of “Keep A Knocking”. It was also great to finally have “Medusa” by Trapeze.

After a handful of very 60’s tracks by Deep Purple Mk I, the set really begins. Ian Gillan and Roger Glover helped create an entire new beast. Before too long we’re immersed in demos, rare live versions, remasters, outtakes and the odd album cut. My only complaint was that “Speed King” is not included in its album version, as I think it is superior to the two versions included. Suitable to this version of Purple, disc three kicks off with the 30 minute version of “Mandrake Root” from the 1970 Stockholm concert. Through Fireball, Machine Head, and Who Do We Think We Are, you can hear the band grow, experiment, and eventually stagnate. However, by the end of disc 4, David Coverdale and Glenn Hughes are on board. The band was revitalized with the Burn album, but had not changed in their jamming tendencies. Disc five contains the 30 minute version of “Space Truckin'” from the Gaumont, and an unreleased 12 minute version of “Mistreated”, as well as an 18 minute version of “You Fool No One”.

The final disc contains some then-unreleased quad mixes from Stormbringer (now available in a surround sound DVD) and the final recordings of the band. Tommy Bolin replaces Blackmore, and there is material here from his first rehearsals (from the Days May Come CD). By the time the Last Concert In Japan material hits the speakers, you are overwhelmed and exhausted by the majesty of Deep Purple. Simon Robinson wisely ended the set with a remastered verion of “You Keep On Moving”.

Robinson’s liner notes are, of course, detailed and exemplary. It will take you as longer to finish them than it will to listen to this monstrous set.  Tracklist is below, for your perusal and analysis.  Click the gallery and enlarge.

5/5 stars. The buck stops here, this is the one.