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'Long Beach 1971'
Release Date: March 2nd 2015

Joe Geesin

joe geesin

deep purple

There is probably no better definition of classic hard rock than Deep Purple; one of the best, most successful, most influential and genre defining bands.

The famed line-up of guitarist Ritchie Blackmore, singer Ian Gillan, bassist Roger Glover, pianist Jon Lord and drummer Ian Paice produced some genuine classics in 'Child In Time', 'Highway Star' and of course 'Smoke On The Water'.

Formed in the late 60s, they split in 1976 with the various members spreading the Deep Purple family far and wide; through Whitesnake, Gillan and Rainbow, the net was cast around the charts and concert halls world-wide before they reformed in 1984. And through a number of line-up changes they are still going strong.

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And like many, they have released a number of live sets, some better than others. You have the good ('Made In Europe', 'Live In London', 'Perfect Strangers Live In Australia 1984', 'Live Encounters'), the not so good ('Nobody’s Perfect') and the downright ugly ('Last Concert In Japan'). The two 1993 live sets from The Battle Rages On tour are a worthy mention too. But you can't go without the defining 'Made In Japan', widely considered the best rock live album, ever.

That aforementioned Japanese set was originally recorded in 1972 and set a template in terms of format and the band's set-list. The double LP was recorded in the band's first Japanese tour and has since been reissued several times, including as a 9LP set.

This album, recorded just over a year earlier at the Long Beach Arena, California. At the time Deep Purple were still developing their set-list and in the throws of conquering the world with their classic MK II line-up. This recording, like much of what EarMusic has put out over the last two years, has been bootlegged but sees some rare music getting an official release, and was remastered in 2014. Other recent releases in the series include 'Paris 1975', 'Copenhagen 1972', 'Stockholm 1970' and 'Graz 1975'.

The band's complex beginnings started to come together with Roundabout featuring former Artwoods keyboard player Jon Lord and renowned session guitarist Ritchie Blackmore. The line-up was cemented with bassist Nick Simper, singer Rod Evans and drummer Ian Paice, both of The Maze. After a few gigs they changed their name to Deep Purple and recorded three albums, 'Shades Of Deep Purple', 'Book Of Taliesyn' and 'Deep Purple'. A cover of Joe South's 'Hush' proved a huge success, especially in America.

Blackmore, Paice and Lord wanted to take the band in a heavier (and less progressive) direction and in 1969 they duly did so with new vocalist Ian Gillan and bassist Roger Glover (both former Episode Six, at a recommendation of their drummer Mick Underwood, a friend of Blackmore's). This new line-up, the classic MKII, soon gelled with the 'Hallelujah' single and 'Concerto For Group And Orchstra' album, with Gillan also taking the lead on the 'Jesus Christ Superstar' album. The first album proper with 'Deep Purple In Rock', featuring the epic 'Child In Time', the classic 'Speed King', and the non-album 'Black Night'.

The following year saw the release of 'Fireball', which topped the charts the same month as this recording of this set; July 1971.

This album, a wonderful quality recording, kicks off with 'Speed King', clocking in at over ten minutes. It's a real rock n' roll number with Gillan's trademark screams and Blackmore's blistering guitar hitting you in the face from the outset. Tempo is up and down with Lord's keyboards mixing well with the drums and bass during a quieter segment. Little intro, just heads down and take off. It's the kind of uptempo crash-bang-wallop you'd race through in an encore so opening a show with it probably knocked the audience for six.

Then Ian stops to talk to the audience for 'Strange Kind Of Woman'. This excellent tune sees a theme continued for the 'Made In Japan' version with the vocal and guitar dual/harmony; Gillan and Blackmore in a lot more tune here than they would be years later when they split. The guitar sound is heavier and harsher and the solo different too, though, so there are some differences in the arrangement.

The twenty minute 'Child In Time' is a must listen, it's intro gentle and as it builds it's Lord's organ that comes heavily and loudly to the fore before the guitar and drums really kick off. The guitar work here is, like the whole song, louder, more blistering and grandiose than other versions of the song. The keyboard work is extended too; one of Deep Purple's trademarks is the interplay between Blackmore and Lord, whether intricately or sitting back while the other extensively solos and it's exemplified here. And in the closing crescendo sees Gillan at his highest and loudest best.

'Mandrake Root', from the band's debut, closes the four track set and runs to 27 minutes here. Aside the extended running time, it sees Deep Purple at their most progressive, and probably their funkiest (at least until Glenn "Stevie Wonder on Cocaine" Hughes joined the band.

There are some slower moody sections, plenty of temp changes, and elements of Hendrix (main riff), Iron Butterfly and The Nice too. The rhythm is very progressive and the keyboards and guitar take turns in rattling your brain. Equally, there are elements of the jam that also appear in the extended MiJ version of 'Space Trucking' (proof that those extended jams not quite as spontaneous as some make out).

You need to gasp for air just listening to that final track; fantastic.

A lovely package and full release. It'll have been available before, both bootlegged and (I think very probably) through the fanclub. This is probably far too much (certainly grandiose) for the more casual fan, for whom the remastered 2CD of 'Made In Japan' will be more than enough; most fans will be more than happy and catered for with the original catalogue, which is well documented, whether the Coverdale/Hughes years, the reformation or the current line-up.

There's plenty of these reissues on the market that will overwhelm some but I'm scoring this as a fan and collector.

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