Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Classic Rock Review: Deep Purple Live (Three Albums)

Release Date: May 26, 2015, September 18, 2015
Label: earMusic

Once officially recognized as the loudest band in the world, Deep Purple are one of the towering figures of heavy metal from the 70s, along with Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath. With over one hundred million albums sold and a career spanning six decades, they are one of the most influential bands of all time. Formed in 1968, in Hertford, England, the band currently consists of Ian Gillian (vocals, harmonic, and percussion), Ian Paice (drums, percussion), Roger Glover (bass), Steve Morse (guitar), and Don Airey (organ, keyboards). 

Having released nineteen studio albums and dozens of live albums, they show no signs of slowing down.  This year has seen the release of three live albums, two of which are double albums. They are Long Beach 1971, …To The Rising Sun (In Tokyo) featuring Ritchie Blackmore and Jon Lord from the DP MK2 lineup and From The Setting Sun…(In Wacken)

The thing I like about “Speed King” is the way it captures the atmosphere of playing live. From the talking to the audience to the rawness of the music, it is easy to just close your eyes and imagine being there all those years ago. Clocking in at just over eleven minutes, “Speed King” is the first of four long jams, with this being the shortest, to make up the album.  Whereas “Speed King” acts as a bit of warm up for the band, “Strange Kind of Woman” finds them loose and comfortable in a kind of blues rock style reminiscent of Led Zeppelin. It starts of rocking and wild enough, and keeps getting better from there. The guitar parts are great, the drums consistently on point, and the vocals sparse yet effective. It is easy to tell that they are enjoying themselves. 

“Child in Time” is a truly epic song, clocking in at over twenty minutes in length. There is a great energy
running throughout the song, and a nice even pace to it all. The tempo changes are smooth and effortless. The guitar part in the beginning of the second half of the song is just a fantastic display of musicianship. “Mandrake Root” is a great hard rocking song. It starts out nice and heavy and gets very interesting when the keyboards take over. Not to be overshadowed by keyboards, the guitar takes over around the eight minute mark for one quality solo. It is the longest song at over twenty-seven minutes in length and it does drag a bit after the halfway point, but things do pick up for the last third of the song with some feedback that gets in the way. 

The other two lives albums are not only both double albums …To The Rising Sun (In Tokyo) and From The Setting Sun… (In Wacken), but they also share many of the same songs, so I would like to go over the songs that appear only once first. To The Rising Sun opens with the tone setting “Après Vous.”  The crowd is into it and there is a lively atmosphere that is infectious. “Uncommon Man” starts off slow and mellow, and rising nice and steadily before ending with a sweet instrumental part. The drums get things rolling on “The Mule” before completely taking over with a blistering solo that steals the show. It does not end there because the keyboards and guitar join in to make for one memorable song. On From The Setting Sun, “Highway Star” is a great hard rock song, with the right attitude and spirit, that is enhanced by the uncompromising and unrelenting music. “No One Came” is another song that is nothing short of fantastic. It comes out confident and full of momentum and it never loses it the whole way through. 

Most of the songs on …To The Rising Sun (In Tokyo) and From The Setting Sun… (In Wacken) are the same with little variation besides small differences in length, but that is about it. I like this because it shows how consistent they are in their live performances. “Hard Lovin’ Man” is a banging rock song on both albums that is hard not to move to, with a rhythm that practically calls out to be head banged to. The shorter versions of “Strange Kind of Woman” both dazzle again. In a tribute to the late actor, “Vincent Price” is very enjoyable with an appropriately haunting atmosphere and an eerie sound that is perfect for a horror movie. 

The instrumental “The Well-Dressed Guitar” is an impressive display all around. The song is just pulsating with electric energy that it never gets old.  “Above and Beyond” is a moving tribute to Jon Lord, an original member of the band who died in 2012. The sound of “Lazy” is anything but as the organ will certainly get you going, and things really get rocking once the guitar kicks in and things are off to the races from there. “Don Airey’s Solo” is a simple and beautiful song whose light and pleasant sound is a welcome change. “Space Truckin’” is a fun song with a carnival-like atmosphere. It would make a great party song. “Smoke on the Water” is simply an amazing song that could not be any more perfect. It is chilling when the crowd joins in the singing. It is definitely the type moment that calls out to be experienced live. “Black Night” is a rip-roaring tune that has probably the best guitar part of all the songs.

When it comes down to it, all three albums are high quality productions. If you are a die-hard collector or fan, then I would not hesitate to recommend all three. If you are not, then I would go with Long Beach 1971 and one of the others. Overall, I find it hard to pick a favorite between …To The Rising Sun (In Tokyo) and From The Setting Sun… (In Wacken). There are only a few songs that do not appear on both albums, so not much is being left out. You cannot really go wrong with either album, if you have to choose between the two. All in all, I would say that these three live albums do a fantastic job of making the listener want to be there.

4.5/5 Stars

Key Tracks: Strange Kind of Woman, The Mule, Highway Star, Vincent Price, The Well-Dressed Guitar, Smoke on the Water, Black Night

Tracks:
Long Beach 1971
1. Speed King
2. Strange Kind of Woman
3. Child in Time
4. Mandrake Root

From The Setting Sun… (In Wacken)
Disc 1
1. Highway Star
2. Into The Fire
3. Hard Lovin’ Man
4. Vincent Price
5. Strange Kind of Woman
6. Contact Lost
7. The Well-Dressed Guitar
8. Hell to Pay
9. Lazy 

Disc 2
1. Above and Beyond
2. No One Came
3. Don Airey’s Solo
4. Perfect Strangers
5. Space Truckin’
6. Smoke on the Water
7. Green Onions / Hush
8. Black Night

…To The Rising Sun (In Tokyo)
Disc 1
1. Après Vous
2. Into the Fire
3. Hard Lovin’ Man
4. Strange Kind of Woman
5. Vincent Price
6. Contact Lost
7. Uncommon Man
8. The Well-Dressed Guitar
9. The Mule
10. Above and Beyond
11. Lazy

Disc 2 
1. Hell to Pay
2. Don Airey’s Solo
3. Perfect Strangers
4. Space Truckin’
5. Smoke on the Water
6. Green Onions / Hush
7. Black Night

Brian McKinnon - Write A Music Review Sr. Staff
November 24, 201
Review Provided By Write A Music Review

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