DEEP PURPLE

"InFinite" (earMusic; 2017)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

The latest (and, by some reports, the last) album by legendary Deep Purple is nothing short of a masterpiece. It's the culmination of a career spanning fifty years by a band who has always played only the type of music they want to play and have always excelled at it. If you're a Deep Purple fan, you're going to love "InFinite." If you're new to the band, you may want to start exploring them elsewhere (may I suggest what I consider the greatest album of all time, "Machine Head?") and work your way up to this one.

Why not recommend "InFinite" to Deep Purple newbies? Because the album can be a challenging one. From the opening notes, filtered narrative and lyrical style of the first track and first single, "Time for Bedlam," to the last track, a curiously stripped-down and laid back cover of the Doors classic "Roadhouse Blues," "InFinite" is a Deep Purple album through and through. But it's Deep Deep Purple, heavy with the brilliant guitars of Steve Morse (who, in his twenty years in the band has never sounded better than here) and -- on his fourth album with the band -- the amazingly heavy ivories of Don Airey (whose  keyboards give this album much of its atmospheric heaviness).

And those are the "new" guys. Of course you've got the legends here as well: The amazingly talented Roger Glover, the brilliant drums of Ian Paice and the never-matched vocals of Ian Gillan, perhaps my favorite rock'n'roll singer of all time, hitting all the right notes here and giving "InFinite" its delicately heavy style.

As I've said on reviews of previous, more recent Deep Purple studio albums, the band continues on its progressive discovery with "InFinite." Although I would say it's certainly heavier than "Now What?" it's also noticeably richer with long stretches of pure instrumental indulgence. One can almost imagine producer Bob Ezrin watching the band record, getting lost in their music, and thinking, "Screw it, let 'em play. I'm not going to interrupt that musical magic."

And that's another thing about "InFinite." It may be the most seamless album I've ever heard. The band isn't just tight on this CD, it's ... well, seamless. You can tell these guys have playing together longer than many of their fans have been alive. The music doesn't seem to be made up of bits of guitar, pieces of vocals and hunks of rhythm. Instead, each song feels like one piece; a piece that starts together and ends together, staying completely synchronized throughout. It's mind-blowing.

My favorite tracks are "One Night in Vegas" -- because, not only is it a solid tune musically, I've lived the experience described in the lyrics on many occasions -- and "Birds of Prey," a simmering song that starts out kind of slow and then burns into a spectacular crescendo that nearly had me in tears the first time I heard it. And I'm not making that up.

So, you might be wondering, if you love this album so much, why don't you give it the full four stars. A couple of reasons: One, I'm not sure I like the uber-bluesy Doors cover. It seems too laid back and stripped down. I read somewhere that the band recorded it live in studio in fifteen minutes which, yeah, is pretty impressive. But you've heard Ian Gillan sing. Wouldn't you like to hear him wail on this song, rather than deliver a calm, almost quiet performance? (Answer: Yes, you would.) And I understand why the band recorded "Johnny's Band" but it's the weakest song on the album (which means it's still preetty good).

The real reason I'm only giving it three and a half stars, however, is because I want Deep Purple to keep trying, to keep reaching for that illusive four star review. The rumors that this is their last studio album have run rampant but maybe, just maybe, they'll record at least one more album in the hopes of getting another four-star review here at RoughEdge.com.

One can hope, right?

Deep Purple: Ian Gillan, Ian Paice, Roger Glover, Steve Morse, Don Airey.

For more information, check out www.deep-purple.com or www.thehighwaystar.com

"Live at the NEC" (Eagle Rock Entertainment; 2016)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

"Live at the NEC" was recorded back in 2003. As you should certainly have come to expect, it's another great live set by the legendary Deep Purple, featuring all of their hits (well, not all ... there are too many of them) performed by a band that whose charisma and talent are nothing short of awesome (in the truest sense of the word) even today.

What makes this particular concert so unique, however, was that it was the last live performance by founding member and keyboardist Jon Lord. Lord had already left the band when this show was recorded but, about halfway through, during a solo by current keyboardist Don Airey, the lights dim and Lord takes the stage, to thunderous applause, and performs with the band, and with Airey, for the rest of the show. It's an amazing performance, one as driven by rock'n'roll as by pure emotion, and the band's bittersweet interaction with Lord might just very well bring a tear to your eye.

And, if that doesn't, the backstage footage and post-show interviews will.

"Live at the NEC" is recommended to anyone who's a fan of Deep Purple, whether it's just those who love "Smoke on the Water," or those who know the band's history through and through. It will mean more to you if you're the latter, of course, but anyone who's ever enjoyed the music of this truly legendary group will find plenty to their liking here.

For more information, check out www.deep-purple.com or www.thehighwaystar.com

"To the Rising Sun... (in Tokyo)" (earMusic; 2015)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

I know what you're thinking: How much different can two double live CDs recorded the same year by the same band, released on the same day, be? The answer is surprisingly different as this second live release from 2015 proudly displays.

"To the Rising Sun... (in Tokyo)" is the second double live CD released by Deep Purple on September 28, 2015 and, like its predecessor ("From the Setting Sun...") it's another incredible, awe-inspiring performance by a band that have truly earned the right to be called "legendary." There are a number of different songs here, and a different sequence, but once again Deep Purple delivers a truly mind-blowing performance, complete with modern hits and treasured classics.

So how much is different from one hemisphere to the next? Well, "To the Rising Sun" features a seemingly much more relaxed Deep Purple. There's more between song banter on this collection than there was on the recording from Wacken. And the songs feel looser, not quite as laser focused. That's not a bad thing -- this is a live performance and it's supposed to feel live. And it does. Don't get me wrong: the band's energy level is just as high as it was on the Wacken collection but the band seems more at ease here, perhaps because they've played Japan many more times than they've played the legendary Wacken Festival.

If you have to choose between one or the other, well, my favorite was the Wacken CD but the difference is minimal. The bottom line is that Deep Purple, who recorded "Smoke on the Water" way back in the early 70s (!) are still one of the strongest rock'n'roll bands on the planet and that's no faint praise.

Deep Purple: Ian Gillan, Ian Paice, Roger Glover, Steve Morse, Don Airey.

For more information, check out www.deep-purple.com or www.thehighwaystar.com

"From the Setting Sun... (in Wacken)" (earMusic; 2015)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

Deep Purple were one of the originators of the double live album, so it should come as no surprise, even all these years later, that the band still knows how to deliver one of the most electrifying live performances in rock'n'roll and how to capture it for all time.

"From the Setting Sun..." is the first part of a two double-album release, this first one recorded at the world famous Wacken Open Air festival in Germany (the second recorded in Tokyo, to be reviewed later). It's pure rock'n'roll magic from the first track to the last. The band blasts through 18 tracks of both legendary classics ("Smoke on the Water," "Space Truckin'") and soon-to-be-classic new ones ("Contact Lost," "Vincent Price"). And although you can see how the band's style has changed over the years (just compare the hard-rockin' "Space Truckin'" to the much more progressive "Vincent Price")  you're also aware on each and every track that this is Deep Purple, one of the bands that invented the hard rock sound and that they still sound awesome.

It has been said that it takes 10,000 hours for someone to truly perfect their talent. Whether that's true or not, Deep Purple's many years together are apparent here in spades. Ian Gillan is still one of rock's greatest vocalists, hitting most of the high notes and surprising you here and there with a well-placed scream or scat. Roger Glover's bass thumps throughout each song, sometimes more in some than in others, but it's the kind of unmatched rhythm that even (or especially?) a drum machine can't match. And speaking of rhythm and drums, Ian Paice keeps the entire Purple machine tight. The musical interludes on "From the Setting Sun..." will have you clapping along and cheering as though you were there in the concert hall at Wacken. And it's about time we stop calling Steve Morse (on guitars) and Don Airey (on keyboards) the new guys. These two gentleman are as much a part of Deep Purple as anyone else in the band with Morse's amazing fretwork (which pays tribute to and builds on Blackmore's classic leads, not to mention the stunning leads of his own) and Airey's bigger-than-life sounds.

Deep Purple have released so many live albums, I think it'd be nigh impossible to count them all. But I can tell you this: "From the Setting Sun..." is one of the strongest and I know I will be listening to it often.

Deep Purple: Ian Gillan, Ian Paice, Roger Glover, Steve Morse, Don Airey.

For more information, check out www.deep-purple.com or www.thehighwaystar.com

"Now What?" (Eagle Rock; 2013)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

I don't know exactly when Deep Purple started gaining a reputation as a progressive rock band rather than a hard rock band, but they've certainly got that reputation today. I remember once seeing them headline a concert with Dream Theater and Emerson Lake and Palmer. Hard to get a more progressive concert line-up than that.

So it should come as no surprise that the band's new CD, "Now What?" is easily the most progressive of their long and successful career. And it should also come as no surprise that this CD is a terrific rock'n'roll experience.

What makes "Now What?" so great is the variety of music contained herein. There are hard rocking tunes ("Weirdistan," "Out of Hand," "Hell to Pay"), there are spacey ballads ("Blood from a Stone," "All the Time in the World"), songs that sneak up on you, starting out slow and then hammering it home ("A Simple Song," "Uncommon Man") and even a haunting horror movie tribute entitled "Vincent Price."

The band has never sounded better, and that's saying a lot about a band with a nearly 50 year career. Ian Gillan's vocals are smooth and dynamic, Roger Glover's bass and Ian Paice's drums move the songs along at a steady, irresistible clip. And relative newcomers Steve Morse on guitar and Don Airey on keyboards really step it up, Morse delivering pounding chords and soaring leads of all kinds, Airey delivering some of the fattest keyboard riffs heard on a Deep Purple album in a long, long time. (Then again, it's been eight years since the last studio album).

There are a lot of highlights on this album, but my favorite has got to be the aforementioned "Vincent Price," a song about one of the greatest horror film actors of all time. "Vincent Price" almost sounds as though it could have come from the latest Alice Cooper album, with its haunting sci-fi sounds and scary movie lyrics. What's interesting is that Cooper's most recent album, "Welcome 2 My Nightmare," was produced by the legendary Bob Ezrin, who also produced "Now What?"

Fans expecting an extension of Deep Purple's classic "Machine Head" or "Fireball" albums may be disappointed with the heavily progressive sounds of "Now What?" Not me. I love this album from first track to last and have listened to it many times since it found its way to my inbox, and it still sounds as fresh and new as the first time I heard it. There's nothing more disappointing than waiting eight years for one of your favorite bands to release a new studio album and then to discover that album is less than stellar. There are no worries like that with "Now What?" which met my expectations and surpassed them. Like ZZ Top's "La Futura," it's a return to form by one of rock's most resilient and enduring bands.

Deep Purple: Ian Gillan, Ian Paice, Roger Glover, Steve Morse, Don Airey.

For more information, check out www.deep-purple.com or www.thehighwaystar.com

"Live in Paris 1975" (Eagle Rock Entertainment; 2013)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

At first glance, this may seem like a case of simple re-packaging. There are plenty of Deep Purple, Live in Paris recordings available; some legitimate, some not. The truth is, some of this music may have been released before. But this is a newly re-mastered and full-length edition of what would be the last performances by Ritchie Blackmore with this line-up and it's new vitality and inherent intensity make this edition worth a listen.

The tracklisting throws in a few surprises with era-appropriate tracks like "Stormbringer," "Lady Double Dealer" and "Mistreated" making rare appearances. The classics are there, too, including "Space Trucking," "Highway Star" and, of course, "Smoke on the Water." Vocalist David Coverdale can really belt out the songs he recorded, but doesn't fare so well with those originally recorded with Ian Gillan on vocals. The re-mastered sound quality is nothing short of astounding: crisp, clean and dynamic from first track to last. As I mentioned, there may be other versions of this material out there, but I can honestly say I've never heard any of them sound as good as they do here.

As for the band's performance, "Live in Paris" is truly an interesting album. Being some of the last shows with Ritchie Blackmore, before he left the band (at least for about nine years or so), the animosity between band members seems apparent. It's not that they're avoiding each other; it's just that each musician -- especially the vocalist (Coverdale) and lead guitarist (Blackmore) -- sounds a little stand-offish ... a little like "I'm going to do what I want to do and you do whatever you want to." The whole thing seems a little disjointed, especially when compared to other live Deep Purple albums.

But that's all part of the charm here. "Live in Paris" sounds rough and dangerous while at the same time sounding regal and historic. There are chances taken here by every band member (but once again more often by vocalist and guitarist) that make this concert sound truly alive.  It may be that they all knew it was coming to a close and used their devil-may-care attitudes to their benefit. Or it may just be that they weren't connecting on all cylinders. Either way, it makes both discs a fascinating listen and, for Deep Purple fans, comes highly recommended.

For more information, check out www.deep-purple.com or www.thehighwaystar.com

"Live in Montreux 1996" CD (Eagle Records; 2006)
"Live in Montreux 1996" DVD (Eagle Eye Media; 2006)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

Another live Deep Purple album! Jeez, how many of these things do we need?!

If they're all of the quality of this CD and DVD, I'd say we need at least a few more.

In this recording of a live show from July 19, 1996, the mighty Deep Purple (time Mk. 7) once again takes the stage and delivers a stunning set of timeless classics ("Fireball," "Woman From Tokyo," "Speed King" and, of course, "Smoke on the Water") and some newer tracks ("Ted the Mechanic," "Hey, Cisco," "Sometimes I Feel Like Screaming"). The tracklisting is a perfect balance between the old and the new, both in number of tracks and in sequence.

Beautifully and crisply recorded, the CD's sound is crystal. And the band is in top form. Ian Gillan, still one of the best vocalists in rock'n'roll, really shines here, as does guitarist Steve Morse, who gives some of the songs their necessary crunch while giving others an ethereal atmosphere. And his leads ... oh, my, his leads. Morse's leads are jaw-dropping. Of course, the others -- bassist Roger Glover, keyboardist Jon Lord and drummer Ian Paice -- are just as important to the band's sound. Deep Purple's never been about one or two members, it's always been about the group. And this CD is another example of how that group works together to create some truly kickass rock'n'roll.

Most of the songs on this CD are from the Montreux Jazz Festival in 1996 but the final two tracks, "Sometimes I Feel Like Screaming" and "Fools," are from the 2000 fest.

The CD contains the entire show from that evening (which was shortened due to festival restrictions) with the exception of "Cascades," which was excised so that all the music would fit on one disc. The entire show, including "Cascades," does appear on the the DVD version, as well as five different bonus tracks from 2000 and a spoken word intro explaining the story behind the band's legendary "Smoke on the Water," which just happens to be based on an incident that took place ... in Montreux. And I'll bet the great sound of this live recording is even better in the Dolby Surround 5.1 format included on the DVD.

Deep Purple: Ian Gillan - vocals; Steve Morse - guitar; Jon Lord - keyboards; Ian Paice - drums; Roger Glover - bass.

For more information, check out www.deep-purple.com or www.thehighwaystar.com

"Live in California 74" DVD (Eagle Vision; 2005)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

Saturday, April 6th, 1974 was the day that the California Jam took place. Headlining the show were Deep Purple and Emerson Lake & Palmer with opening acts Black Sabbath, Seals & Crofts, Black Oak Arkansas, the Eagles, Rare Earth and Earth Winde & Fire.

Probably won't see a bill like that anytime soon.

This DVD captures Deep Purple's entire performance that evening, part of their American tour in support of their then new CD, "Burn." It was a new line-up for the band, too, with David Coverdale replacing Ian Gillan on vocals and Glenn Hughes taking Roger Glover's place on bass.

As anyone who has read my earlier Deep Purple reviews will know, the Coverdale/Hughes lineup was not my favorite lineup of Deep Purple. In fact, any lineup without Ian Gillan doesn't really do much for me. That being said, the performance captured on this DVD is really a part of rock'n'roll history and you may not realize that until you sit down and watch this DVD.

There's a whole back story on this show about how the band was asked to go on an hour early and how the notoriously surly Ritchie Blackmore didn't like the idea of being told what to do. The bottom line is that they finally took the stage, with somewhat of an attitude, and did their show.

The set list was nothing to write home about at first glance. The band only performs seven songs, among them the hits "Burn," "Mistreated," "Smoke on the Water" and "Space Truckin'." Of course with a live Deep Purple show, it's not so much about the set list as the performance and the band goes all out here. Stretching four minutes songs into twenty minute extravaganzas, adding licks and riffs where none were before and basically running around like madmen, Deep Purple turned a rock'n'roll concert into an event.

Things really kick into gear on the final track, "Space Truckin'." Basically, the band gets the song out of the way in the first four minutes or so and then just starts playing whatever the hell they want. It's the kind of jam fest you'd expect to see at a madhouse. Ritchie Blackmore is especially out of control, destroying two or three guitars, dragging amps to the end of the stage and dropping them over the edge and detonating a pyrotechnic display that leaves the stage aflame and Blackmore running for his life while Ian Paice tries to keep the rhythm going in the heat of the blast.

The best moment comes when Blackmore, tired of the television cameras littering the stage, approaches one camera and starts beating it with his guitar. He smashes the light shade with the guitar neck three or four times and then stabs at the lens with the tuning head until the camera blurs out.

It's dangerous, exciting stuff. There aren't rock'n'roll shows like this anymore, I can assure you of that.

Technically, the DVD is okay at best but that's thanks to the source material. As I said above, this is the first time the entire concert has been released on video or DVD (the lost track, "Might Just Take Your Life," has finally been added back where it belongs) and the program was mastered from the original 2" tapes. If you know anything about 2" tapes, you know that a) no one uses them anymore and b) they're notorious for being sticky and, hence, unreliable. The picture quality on this DVD looks like a second generation video cassette. It's not great but it's certainly watchable. Thankfully, the sound quality has been tweaked and re-tweaked so many times, it still sounds awesome. Dolby Digital 2.0, Surround Dolby Digital 5.0 and 5.0 Surround DTS are all available.

Also included are "bonus clips" of "Burn" and "Might Just Take Your Life," which were re-edited with footage found on old U-matic tapes (another non-broadcast quality format), a photo gallery (which is interesting but annoying as hell because, once you're into it, you can't get out), and amazing Super 8 footage shot by one of the band's roadies. A four page booklet tells the fascinating story of the show and how it almost didn't happen.

Deep Purple fans will want to add this DVD to their collection because the performances captured here are wild and priceless. Even those fans who prefer the Ian Gillan / Roger Glover versions of the band should check this out. And anyone who's a fan of live rock'n'roll in general, and who misses those days of bad boys like Ritchie Blackmore, should at least rent this title. It's been a long time since you've seen anything like this, if you've ever seen it at all.

Deep Purple: Ritchie Blackmore - guitar; David Coverdale - vocals; Glenn Hughes - bass/vocals; Jon Lord - keyboards; Ian Paice - drums.

For more information, check out www.deep-purple.net

"Rapture of the Deep" (Eagle Records; 2005)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

Unlike most other Deep Purple records, "Rapture of the Deep" took me a number of spins before I finally began to get it. I'm still not entirely sure how much of a fan I am of this particular recording, but there are moments on it that are shiningly brilliant and the musicianship and talent throughout is undeniably masterful.

Most of the songs here are bluesy, mid-tempo smokers -- rather than dead on rockers like "Smoke on the Water" and "Speed King" (or even, for that matter, "House of Pain" from the band's previous studio outing). The similar tempos are a little trying at first as you continue to anticipate the band breaking into a faster, harder pace. It happens occasionally ("Money Talks," "Wrong Man") but more often than not, the band continues to explore ever more mature subject matter both musically and lyrically (with the smile-inducing exception of "Back to Back").

Perhaps the best track on the CD is the haunting "Clearly Quite Absurd." The song starts off like one of Purple's best milder ballads and builds to a controlled but effective crescendo. Other stand out tracks include "Money Talks," "Wrong Man," the title track and the insightful "MTV."

Though he's always been terrific on previous Deep Purple records, guitarist Steve Morse really stands out here with solid rhythm and fiery lead guitar. Ian Gillan continues to amaze as a truly legendary rock vocalist and the rest of the band is as tight and spectacular as ever. 

If I had to choose between this CD and the band's previous "Bananas," I think I'd go with the latter. However,  "Rapture of the Deep" will get more play on my CD player than I would have guessed after my first listen. It's one of those albums that continues to grow on you with each and every listen.

Deep Purple: Ian Gillan - vocals; Steve Morse - guitar; Don Airey - keyboards; Ian Paice - drums; Roger Glover - bass.

For more information, check out www.deep-purple.com or www.thehighwaystar.com

"Burn: 30th Anniversary Edition" (Rhino; 2005)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

Although "Burn" contains one or two of the many great Deep Purple songs (the title song itself, in fact and, of course "Mistreated"), it is not one of the band's more stellar efforts. With David Coverdale replacing Ian Gillan on vocals, and the great Glenn Hughes replacing the equally great Roger Glover on bass (plus sharing vocal duties with Coverdale), the songwriting style and dynamic changed dramatically. Despite that (you should forgive the pun) hot opening track, "Burn" was just okay.

Thirty years later, Rhino Records has re-released the 1974 album, fully remastered, with bonus tracks and extensive liner notes. So, how does "Burn" hold up all these years later? 

Well, about the same. It's still not a bad CD, by any measure, but it's not a great one, either. The remastering helps, making each song sound truly crystal clear, the bonus tracks are interesting if not fascinating (or 100% necessary), and the liner notes make truly insightful reading.

If I were reviewing the original "Burn" CD, I probably would have rated it with two, maybe two-and-a-half guitarsaws. The 30th Anniversary Edition rates three for its remastering and its bonus feature. Still, when compared to the original release of Deep Purple's "Machine Head" ... or the brilliant 25th Anniversary Edition of that classic CD ... well, there is no comparison.

Deep Purple: Ritchie Blackmore - lead guitar; David Coverdale - vocals; Glenn Hughes - bass, vocals; Ian Paice - drums; Jon Lord - keyboards.

 For more information, check out http://www.deep-purple.com

"Bananas" (Sanctuary; 2003)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

It's been five years since the last Deep Purple studio album ("Abandon, reviewed below) but time has been good to the veteran band. "Bananas" is perhaps their best studio CD since 1984's "Perfect Strangers."

In fact, "Bananas" brings to mind the cool, crisp confidence of "Perfect Strangers" with the band not only pumping out some pretty serious rockers ("House of Pain," "Silver Tongue" "Bananas"), some blues-heavy tunes ("Picture of Innocence") and some strong power ballads ("Haunted," "Walk On.")

Nothing on "Bananas" comes close to the band's heavier, earlier songs (i.e., "Speed King," "Flight of the Rat") but "Bananas" does sound a lot like the aforementioned "Perfect Strangers." The band here, of course, is a little different, with soon-to-be-legendary guitarist Steve Morse taking guitar duty and Don Airey replacing founding member Jon Lord on keyboards. Morse, who has performed on the last few Deep Purple CDs and toured extensively with the band, continues to give a new warmth to the band's sound and Airey, who has some very large shoes to step into, does exceptionally well with the keys, giving "Bananas" the full sound that Lord helped originate over three decades ago.

The CD ends with "Contact Lost," a touching instrumental tribute to astronaut Kalpana Chawla, who was lost when the space shuttle Columbia broke up in space on February 1st, 2003. Chawla was a huge fan of the band, waking up every morning to the classic "Space Truckin'" and actually maintaining e-mail contact with the band while in space. "Contact Lost" is a forlorn and haunting track that ends the CD perfectly.

Fans of Deep Purple will find plenty to go "Bananas" about on this CD. Thirty-one years after the band's legendary "Machine Head" was released (and thirty-five years since the band's first record was released), Deep Purple are still going strong.

Deep Purple: Ian Gillan - vocals; Roger Glover - bass; Ian Paice - drums; Steve Morse - guitars; Don Airey - keyboards.

For more information, check out http://www.deep-purple.com

"The Soundboard Series: Australasian Tour 2001" (Thames; 2001)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

Like Pearl Jam, Deep Purple have obviously found it profitable to release "official bootleg" releases of their live performances. This collection of six albums of two CDs each, contains full-length concerts from Melbourne (03/09/01), Wollongong (03/13/01), Newcastle (03/14/01), Hong Kong (03/20/01) and Tokyo (03/24/01 and 03/24/01) and consists of soundboard and DAT recordings that are about as pure a live sound as you're going to find. Sometimes, the sound is so pure you wish for just a little audience noise to enhance the "live" feeling. Most of the time that's all you get: a little audience noise.

The first four CDs consist of basically the same concert - a regular live Deep Purple concert featuring songs from the days of "Machine Head" all the way through "Purpendicular." Each of these CDs opens with "Woman From Tokyo" and each closes with "Highway Star" with almost exactly the same song list each night. Although that's understandable - live shows have to be pretty much the same so that bandmembers don't get confused - it also gets a little monotonous. Sure, there are different aspects of each live performance, but the nuances are usually so small, it's still basically the same track on a different night.

The first set, "Melbourne" also suffers from a less-than-perfect performance by vocalist Gillan, one of rock's premier singers. Gillan is either recovering from a cold or his voice needed more warming up - on "Melbourne" it simply isn't up to its usual excellent par. Throughout the remaining discs, however, Gillan is pitch-perfect and throughout all twelve discs the band is up to its usual, astonishingly artistic, magnificence. Jimmy Barnes and Ian Moss guest star on the "Newcastle" and "Wollongong" CDs.

Albums 5 and 6 are recordings with a full orchestra, a la "In Concert with the London Symphony Orchestra" (see below). Again, these performances are nearly identical although both are extremely powerful and well-played. Both sets begin with the slow-motion "Pictured Within" but then morph into much livelier tunes such as the incredible "Sometimes I Feel Like Screaming," rousing full-orchestra renditions of "Wring That Neck" and "Perfect Strangers" and a too-short but dynamic instrumental, "The Well-Dressed Guitar," featuring the incredible Steve Morse. Also featured on the first CD of these two "orchestra" albums is guest vocalist Ronnie James Dio who performs "Sitting in a Dream" and two of his own classics "Fever Dreams" and "Rainbow in the Dark."

The second disc of these last two collections begins with Jon Lord's classic "Concerto Mov" parts 1, 2 and 3 and unfolds into "When a Blind Man Cries." The hard rocking (but somewhat different here due to the orchestra) "Pictures of Home" and, finally - of course - the classic "Smoke on the Water."

Before you spend upwards of $100 on this impressive 12-disc collection, ask yourself how much of a Deep Purple fan you really are. If you're a completist or a rabid fan - as I am - it's worth the money to add these CDs to your shelves. If you're just a passing fan or merely interested in this wildly influential veteran group, you may want to stick with less costly options before investing in "The Soundboard Series."

DEEP PURPLE is Ian Gillan, vocals; Steve Morse, guitar; Jon Lord, organ and keyboards; Ian Paice, drums; Roger Glover, bass.

For more information, check out http://www.deep-purple.com

"Extended Versions: The Encore Collection" (BMG Special Products; 2000)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

I wasn't sure what to expect when I picked up this CD. There's an old photograph of the band on the cover but there's no date as to when it was recorded. The song listing was no real help. With a band like Deep Purple that have been around forever, their biggest hits tend to be their older songs. Would this be a newly remixed collection of classic Purple studio cuts? Live versions of their greatest hits given the full Deep Purple treatment? I just didn't know.

Regardless, being a big Deep Purple fan and seeing as the disc was only $5.99, I decided to give it a go. I was a little surprised at the result, as well as alternately disappointed and a little satisfied.

First, all this special "Extended Versions: Encore Collection" CD consists of is what appears to be a single Deep Purple concert circa the "Come Taste the Band" era. The good news is that that's a pretty rare era of the band and it's cool to have a live CD featuring both David Coverdale on vocals and Tommy Bolin on guitar. The bad news is that - despite both of those gentleman's unique talents - this wasn't the best Deep Purple line-up by any means. Without Ian Gillan and/or Ritchie Blackmore, Deep Purple just didn't gel. And that's especially obvious here in renditions of the classic Deep Purple songs - "Smoke on the Water" and "Highway Star" (which appears twice on the CD!).

Still, the late Tommy Bolin's fretwork here is pretty impressive and - although Coverdale really can't handle "Smoke on the Water" and "Highway Star," his Whitesnake pipes are in pretty good form on "Burn" and "Lady Luck." This may not be the best Deep Purple you can buy (that would be "Machine Head," of course), but - for only six bucks or so - it's certainly worth adding to your collection, especially if you're a fan of Coverdale and/or Bolin.

"In Concert with the London Symphony Orchestra" DVD (Spitfire; 2000)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

 

The DVD edition of this concert with legendary Deep Purple and the equally (or perhaps even more so) legendary London Symphony Orchestra isn't exactly a companion piece to the CD of the same title. If anything, this is a case of either or.

The fact of the matter is that even the most loyal Deep Purple fan doesn't need to run out and buy both the audio CD and the DVD of this release. One or the other will do nicely. But the DVD does offer a couple of features that may make it a better choice. 

First, the entire performance will fit on one DVD disc; the CD set requires two CDs. Second, you can see the performers as they were recorded at the live performance on the evenings of September 25th and 26th, 1999. This is especially helpful considering the extensive list of guest musicians, whom pop up almost at will. Finally, the DVD offers Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround and/or Dolby 2.0 stereo sound and Dolby 5.1 Surround is obviously superior to digital CD stereo.

Of course, you can't play the DVD in your car stereo - at least not yet. But with the CD running about the same price as the DVD - you might as well go all the way and go with the DVD.

For more information, check out http://www.deep-purple.com

"In Concert with the London Symphony Orchestra" (Spitfire; 2000)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

 

Before Metallica were even a twinkle in Elektra Records' eye (or anybody else's eye for that matter), Deep Purple were out there making hard rock. Years before James Hetfield ever took a meeting with film composer Michael Kamen, Deep Purple had done the orchestra thing and, in fact, had recorded it and filmed it for the generations. (The recorded proof is in "The Butterfly Ball" movie and audio release).  

But what sets Deep Purple's "In Concert with the London Symphony Orchestra" apart from Metallica's "S&M," is that - while Metallica's CD falls quite definitely into the rock'n'roll genre - "In  Concert" does not. In fact, this CD is seriously lacking in the rock'n'roll department. 

Is that a bad thing? Not necessarily. Deep Purple are a band legendary for their musical talent, their musical diversity and their incredible songwriting. Fans of this particular band love it when Deep Purple stretch their wings. And, oh, they stretch them here. I challenge anyone who's never heard any movement of the "Concerto for Group and Orchestra" to identify the band  performing as Deep Purple (and, in this case, the London Symphony Orchestra). You'll get the  impression you've gone to one of those classical events at the Hollywood Bowl or the Royal Albert Hall (which is, in fact, where this CD was recorded on September 25th and 26th, 1999).  

There is some rock'n'roll here, however, although none of it goes to the level of what Metallica and Michael Kamen did with "S&M." Instead, it's more like Deep Purple plays some songs while the London Symphony Orchestra plays others. There's more separation here than on "S&M." "Smoke on The Water" is the most obvious, with the orchestra and the chorus-singing audience livening things up considerably.  

A few guest stars also make "In Concert" worth picking up. Appearing with Deep Purple and the LSO on this CD are Ronnie James Dio, Pete Brown, Steve Morris and many others. (And it's great to hear Dio sing a chorus or two on "Smoke on the Water").  

So, if you're a fan of Deep Purple, go ahead and put this CD on your "gotta-get" list. If you're a fan of Metallica's "S&M," give this one a shot. But if you're looking for some solid, hard rock'n'roll - pick up Deep Purple's truly classic "Machine Head" instead.

For more information, check out http://www.deep-purple.com

deeppurp.jpg (15623 bytes)"Abandon" (CMC International; 1998)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

 

I know it may almost be sacrilege to say it - but I was starting to tire of the Deep Purple lineup that included Ritchie Blackmore on guitar. Now, don't get me wrong - Blackmore is one of rock's most impressive rock virtuosos - but it eventually gets tiresome listening to riffs and leads that are really difficult to play but don't sound fresh. 

When Steve Morse replaced Blackmore last year and Purple released "Purpendicular" I was enthused. "Purpendicular" was a step in the right direction, an album that sounded like 90s-era Deep Purple but that had a freshness to it that wasn't present on such previous Purple releases as "The Battle Rages On." Now, the band has taken that one step further with "Abandon," a studio collection that sounds perhaps even more like the Deep Purple we know and love but gives Morse even more free reign when it comes to the guitar. It's important to note that Morse and Blackmore have completely different playing styles - Morse isn't a maestro shredder a la Steve Vai, Yngwie Malmsteen or Joe Satriani - and that's part of what makes "Abandon" such a great CD. It's a less regimented Deep Purple, and that's really when Deep Purple sounds its best. Need I remind you that the "Smoke on the Water" riff we all know and love is only four really-close-together notes? That isn't to put down Morse's work - he is truly one of rock's great guitarists. It's just to say that high tech guitar playing isn't always necessary. Style is more important and Morse has style in spades.

As with any great Deep Purple album, it's teamwork that makes "Abandon" flow so well. With Ian Gillan - still, for our money, the best vocalist in hard rock (and one of the best lyricists) - at the microphone backed by legendary rockers Roger Glover, Ian Paice and Jon Lord - it's hard to beat "Abandon" for a classic rock sound. Stand-out songs include "Any Fule Know That," "Almost Human" and the bluesy "Don't Make Me Happy." 

DEEP PURPLE is Ian Gillan, vocals; Steve Morse, guitar; Jon Lord, organ and keyboards; Ian Paice, drums; Roger Glover, bass.

For more information, check out http://www.deep-purple.com

"Machine Head (25th Anniversary)" (EMI; 1998)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

 

When Deep Purple released "Machine Head" way, way back in 1972, I bet not a single bandmember could have predicted that the band would still be on tour in 2002, still performing "Smoke on the Water" as their encore, and still be garnering radio airplay with other legendary hits like "Woman From Tokyo," "Burn" and "Speed King" (which really seems to be everywhere these days).

Sure, the band's a little different in 2002 than it was in 1972: Steve Morse has taken over guitar duties from Ritchie Blackmore and keyboardist Jon Lord retired from the band earlier this year. But the fact remains that Deep Purple is still alive today because the music has such incredible lasting power. It's easy to joke about the simplicity of the simple-riffed "Smoke on the Water" but who can resist playing air guitar whenever that tune blares from the radio?

"Machine Head" is not only the definitive Deep Purple album but one of rock'n'roll's definitive albums. The monster hits "Smoke on the Water" and "Highway Star" both spawned from this record, and the other tracks are still as strong today as they were thirty years ago. The music is still hard enough, the melodies still pure enough and the talent still unsurpassed. Countless bands have been inspired by Deep Purple and countless more will still be (thanks to that continuing airplay).

This 25th Anniversary double-CD set of "Machine Head" was originally released in 1997 and contains 18 tracks, all of them gems. Disc 1 is a collection of 1997 remixes featuring different takes on all 7 tracks from the original "Machine Head" and a track that was originally deleted, "When a Blind Man Cries." If you're like me and have played your vinyl and CD copies of "Machine Head" so often that you can hold them up to the light and clearly see through them, this first CD is something to behold. With different riffs, vocal attitudes and lead guitar runs, the 1997 remix of "Machine Head" is like a whole new record.

Disc 2 starts off with a newly remastered version of this classic CD and the sound has never been clearer. This is one of my favorite records of all time and one of my favorite re-masters. Maybe it's just that I've listened to "Machine Head" so many times that I can hear every change and nuance, but this re-master is nothing short of awesome.

Finishing out Disc two are two Quadrophonic tracks, unavailable since the original album was released for that particular sound system way back when. As far as I can tell, these re-mixes aren't all that different but, then, I don't have a Quadrophonic system.

Also included is a 28-age booklet containing extensive liner notes by Roger Glover, a copy of the handwritten lyrics for "Smoke on the Water" and rare photos (including a photo of the actual fire depicted in "Smoke on the Water"). 

As a hard rock/heavy metal fan, you owe it to yourself to have a copy of "Machine Head" on your shelf and this is the ultimate version of that classic album. So far.

Deep Purple: Ian Gillan - vocals; Roger Glover - bass; Ritchie Blackmore - guitar; Jon Lord - keyboards; Ian Paice - drums.

For more information, check out http://www.deep-purple.com

"Live at the Olympia '96" (Thames; 1997)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

 

Deep Purple fans must be in hog heaven these days, with the band releasing tons and tons of live performances ranging from the early days with Ritchie Blackmore, through the current line-up with Steve Morse on guitar. 

"Live at the Olympia '96," recorded at the Olympia in Paris on June 17th, 1996, has been available for some time, and has developed a reputation as being one of the best "official bootlegs" released by the band. With a great live sound, better than virtually any real bootleg I've ever heard, and a line-up of songs that runs the gamut of Deep Purple's lengthy history, "Olympia" is a double-CD set that any Deep Purple fan simply must add to their shelf.

The first CD begins the Purple classic "Fireball" and then burns through ten more tracks ranging from the vintage "Pictures Of Home" to the more modern "Ted The Mechanic." CD 2 starts with "Rosa's Cantina" and then morphs into a nine minute version of the legendary "Smoke on the Water," featuring simply awe-inspiring fretwork by Morse. Several other classics follow on this disc, including "Speed King," "Perfect Strangers" and Highway Star."

The band is truly at its finest here with Morse really showing his stuff. As always, Ian Gillan continues to shine as one of the greatest rock vocalists of all time. And the keyboards of Jon Lord, which many have complained about in the past (much to my confusion - Lord's keyboards have always been a highlight to me) are majestic and powerful.

"Live at the Olympia '96" is a terrific live album by anyone's standards. Deep Purple continue to release discs and boxed sets of their live performances and, although I'm sure many of them will be great, it seems difficult if not impossible for them to beat the performance captured here.

Deep Purple: Ian Gillan - vocals; Jon Lord - Hammond Organ, Keyboards; Steve Morse - guitar; Ian Paice - drums; Roger Glover - bass. 

For more information, check out http://www.deep-purple.com

"Who Do We Think We Are?" (Warner Bros./Rhino; 1972)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

This digitally remastered version of the classic 1972 album, the last by the famous "Mark II" lineup until "Perfect Strangers" almost a decade later, is a fascinating collection of songs for a number of reasons.

1) "Who Do We Think We Are" is a surprisingly strong album, even today. Starting out with the classic "Woman From Tokyo" and offering a handful of other Deep Purple classics ("Mary Long," "Rat Bat Blue," "Super Trouper"), the CD packs a real wallop. What's surprising is that the band were probably at the highest point of their in-fighting during the recording of this record. Who'd'a thunk it would even be cohesive, let alone be a great rock'n'roll record.

2) The remastering is incredible. The tones are clearer, richer and deeper. Material originally recorded twenty years ago sounds as though it were recorded yesterday.

3) This special edition contains seven (count 'em, seven) bonus tracks: Two remixes of "Woman From Tokyo," two additional remixes from 1999, a studio outtake entitled "Painted Horse," a writing session for the tune "Rat Bat Blue" and a terrific 11-minute instrumental jam session that really gives insight to the band's recording.

4) "Who Do We Think We Are" is a more blues-influenced album than previous Deep Purple records, especially track 6, "Place In Line," which sounds like vintage B.B. King or Buddy Guy. It's a definite change of pace from the band's heavier records, but still a granite-solid rock'n'roll album.

5) The liner notes by Simon Robinson and band member Roger Glover are extensive and fascinating, as are the rare photos included. Really, though, we could probably do without the photos of a nude Glover and Gillan in the recording studio.

Deep Purple fans who already have the original version of this CD in their collection will want to pick up this new version immediately. The sound quality alone makes it worth the price, and the extras are just icing on the cake.

For more information, check out http://www.deep-purple.com

Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

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Copyright 2017 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
Revised: 02 May 2017 21:24:56 -0400.