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Deep Purple Recordings
Last update: Feb 7, 2002
This section deals with Deep Purple's recorded material. Some of the more frequently asked questions are here, but for complete details refer to the comprehensive references at The Highway Star
I'm new to Deep Purple - which albums do I start with?
Note that this represents but one person's opinion -- YMMV!!
Ten different people will give you ten different answers, but if you stick to the following advice, you won't go far wrong. We'll only mention studio albums here - the next section deals with live albums.
It's generally accepted that the first three Mk II albums - In Rock, Fireball, and Machine Head - are Deep Purple's classics. Each has its own character. Machine Head is the most approachable, and contains a number of songs which were the mainstay of their live set right up until Ritchie Blackmore left in 1993. In Rock was their breakthrough album, and is a landmark album in the development of heavy rock and metal. Fireball came between In Rock and Machine Head - some folks think that it is weaker than the other two, but many others make this their favourite DP album, probably due to the diversity of material on it.
So start with Machine Head, then listen to the others, and get them too, if you can afford it. There are 25th-anniversary versions of all three available. The 25th-anniversary versions all have excellent notes on the recording of the albums, their sound is better than the originals, and they all contain worthwhile extra tracks. So they are recommended. But if you do buy them, make sure you get to know the original albums - the first seven tracks in each case - so that you can appreciate the structure and impact of the original works. For that authentic 70s feel, you could even get up after 20 minutes and turn the disc over. :-)
Get your hands on a copy of Purpendicular. This was the first studio album from the current line-up with Steve Morse, and it caused great controversy. Ritchie Blackmore die-hards denounced it by saying that the music had gone soft. However, other DP fans said that it showed that the band now had greater freedom to play and experiment with a variety of styles. You'll have to judge this one for yourself, but Purpendicular was certainly the most diverse and varied album that they'd produced for many a long year. Abandon, the second studio recording from the line-up, is more focused and harder-edged. Buy both of these, not only because they are the most recent studio albums, but also because they are both exceptionally good.
Next, you could do worse than go for Burn, the first of the two Mk III studio albums. This shows the more bluesy direction that they took when Coverdale and Hughes joined the band - it's a fresh, energetic album from the new line-up, and it's highly recommended.
After that, you could pick up Perfect Strangers, to hear what the Mk II line-up sounded like when they reformed - the title track is a classic, and remained in the live set when all other tracks from reunion albums before Purpendicular had been thrown out.
There are other line-ups that we haven't mentioned:
So start with the first three Mk II albums, Purpendicular, Burn and Perfect Strangers. After that, it's up to you!
There are also a number of Deep Purple compilations available, but it is difficult to cover all periods of the band's long history. Pick of the crop is the 4-CD retrospective Shades 1968-1998 from Rhino, and even that package has its flaws. The 2CD version of the EMI compilation - Deep Purple 30: Very Best Of - also attempts to cover the first 30 years. Most other compilations focus on shorter periods of history.
article courtesy of Garry Smith
What about all those live recordings??
Note that this represents but one person's opinion -- YMMV!!
Yes, there are a lot, aren't there? In fact, the only line-ups that you won't find on official live albums are Mk I, Mk Turner (Mk V), and Mk Satriani (Mk VI).
Start with the classic - Made In Japan. This is regarded as one of the best ever live albums by anyone, and it captures Mk II at their glorious best back in 1972. A remastered 25th anniversary version appeared in 1998, which contains an extra CD with three additional tracks. They are hardly essential, but since this new version is the one that you are likely to find in the shops, it gets our recommendation. You'll also see a 3-CD set called Live in Japan - this is an almost complete record of the 3 Japanese shows from which MiJ was collated. Since they played virtually the same set every night, it's a bit repetitive, so if you're just starting out, stick with Made In Japan.
Other Mk IIa recommendations include the Deep Purple in Concert set (two BBC shows - 1970 and 1972), and the 1970 set called Scandinavian Nights in some countries, or Live and Rare in others.
An alternative starter (or a second choice, though there is overlap of material), would be the live album from 1993, Come Hell Or High Water. This was recorded by the last Blackmore line-up (Mk IIc) in their final fling, and shows that despite all the in-fighting, they had lost none of their power and ability over the years. If you buy the DVD/video rather than the audio version, you'll get more music, visuals of course, and some enlightening interviews with the four members of the band who weathered the storm.
You must get a live album from the current lineup; three are highly recommended:
Live at Paris Olympia 96, recorded during the first major tour for the line-up, is a great show featuring tracks from Purpendicular plus some of the classics and some of the less-played songs from their back catalogue. It also features a horn section on some tracks.
Total Abandon - Live In Australia is from their 1999 Abandon tour. Available on CD, video, and DVD, it features stellar sound and performances, but perhaps a less adventurous setlist than Paris 96. It includes Steve Morse's "Guitar Parade" intro to Smoke On The Water, where he leads the rest of the band through brief excerpts from other classic songs before finally hitting THE riff.
Both of these albums are unedited recordings of the complete shows, and demonstrate that the band's live performances are still awesome - essential purchases.
Finally, in a somewhat different vein, there is Deep Purple In Concert with the London Symphony Orchestra. In September 1999, Deep Purple revived Jon Lord's Concerto For Group And Orchestra, accompanied by the London Symphony Orchestra, at the Royal Albert Hall in London. The Concerto was prefaced by various rarely-performed works from their solo careers (featuring several guest musicians), and was followed by a short set of Deep Purple tunes from the regular setlist. Available on CD, video, and DVD, this recording - known to many as "Albert" - captures an historic evening and features a performance of the Concerto that puts the original 1969 performance (also available on CD and video) to shame.
Following on from this, it gets more difficult.
If you want to hear Mk III live, then we recommend Mk III The Final Concerts. This features a complete set drawn from a couple of shows from just before Blackmore first left the band in 1975. It supersedes Made In Europe, which is an incomplete and doctored recording from another show at about the same time.
Still with Mk III, one to watch out for is the Live in London album. This isn't generally available on CD (though there was a recent Japanese CD release), and for years there have been promises that it'll soon be out on general distribution on CD, with a missing track (Space Truckin', nearly 30 minutes long) restored. Anyway, if you see it going cheap on vinyl - grab it. If the complete show ever appears on CD, it will be a must-buy.
Our last recommendation for Mk III is the California Jam *video* - not the CD, whose sound is horrible. Admittedly, the sound on the video isn't brilliant, but it's a great show, and you get to see why you shouldn't upset Mr Blackmore!
Complete shows from Mk IV appear on This Time Around (late 1975, Tokyo) and In Concert/On The Wings Of A Russian Foxbat (early 1976, California). This was not long before Deep Purple first broke up, and the quality of the shows - and of individual performances - was somewhat variable at that time. Both of these sets, however, have enough great music to be very enjoyable. The recommendation is that if it's Tommy Bolin's guitar playing that you want to hear, then buy Foxbat; if instead you want a better vocal performance, buy This Time Around. Lord and Paice, as always, put in great performances on both. Note that there is an earlier incomplete, edited and doctored version of the Tokyo 1975 show called Last Concert In Japan -- this is to be avoided at all costs.
There are many other live sets, and most of them are fairly good. However, three to be wary of are Made In Europe, Last Concert In Japan (both already mentioned earlier), and Nobody's Perfect.
Nobody's Perfect features the reunion line-up (Mk IIb) on their second tour, after the novelty had worn off, and as the old emnities were resurfacing. Most folks treat this one with extreme caution, but some folks seem to like it. You have been warned.
One more thing to watch out for is a 4CD compilation called On The Road, issued in 2001. It consists of live material from Mk IIa, Mk III, Mk IV, Mk IIb and Mk IIc. Although it includes tracks from some of the albums recommended above, it does not include anything from Made In Japan, and it does not include anything from the current line-up. 2 or 3 of the tracks are new to CD in some territories, but all of the essential material is readily available elsewhere, usually as part of a complete show. Stick with the individual albums.
In summary then, the first live albums to go for are:
However, once your appetite for live Deep Purple has been whetted, there are a number of other titles that you will probably be interested in.
The Bootleg Series 1984-2000 is a box set - officially issued by the band's management - of six 2CD bootlegs. These are:
The bootlegs selected are amongst the best-sounding available, but nevertheless they are audience-recorded bootlegs and the sound quality is not as good as on official soundboard recordings. Marks are also deducted because Purple Sunshine does not include the complete Ft. Lauderdale show (another boot of the show, Purple Sunrise, does). It also does not include the "bonus" South African radio session that was on the original bootleg. On the other hand, In Your Trousers is generally regarded as one of the best of all Deep Purple bootlegs - sound and performance are both excellent, with Ritchie at his stunning best only a few days before leaving the band.
Again, the recommendation is to start your live collection with the official recordings before considering buying this, although In Your Trousers - on its own, as a complete show with good (for a bootleg) sound - would make a reasonable alternative to Come Hell Or High Water.
The Deep Purple Appreciation Society has officially issued Space Vol 1 & 2, a famous Mk IIa bootleg from 1970. This is a single CD - the Vol 1 & 2 in the name is a relic from the the original double LP bootleg. Not essential until you are well into live Deep Purple, and want to hear how exciting the early Mk IIa line-up were.
In autumn 2000, the band took the Concerto show on tour in Europe, with an orchestra from Romania. Live At The Rotterdam Ahoy is from that tour, but for legal reasons does not include the Concerto itself. With this knowledge, what remains is undeniably enjoyable, but it's a bit like going to a fine restaurant and having a starter and a dessert, but no main course.
Finally, the Soundboard Series is another official 6x2CD set, featuring three shows from Australia, one from Hong Kong, and two from Tokyo, all from March 2001. As is obvious from the name, these are soundboard recordings, so the sound quality is excellent. The Australia and Hong Kong shows are regular DP shows with virtually identical setlists, although Australian rock star Jimmy Barnes pops up to sing out of tune on a couple of them. The Tokyo shows are Concerto shows - admittedly with an *excellent* orchestra - and they both have the same setlist. All good stuff, but only you will know if you consider this to be an essential purchase!
A word of warning. There have been rumours that later pressings of the Soundboard Series would NOT include the Concerto in the Tokyo shows, in the same way that it has been left off the Rotterdam Ahoy set. At the time of writing - November 2001 - a couple of people who had very recently bought the set told us that the Concerto was still included. However, if the Concerto is important to you then we recommend that you check before buying.
article courtesy of Garry Smith
Just how many recordings are there, anyway?
This is a quick overview -- for a complete discography, see the The Highway Star reference
What if i want to see them instead?
Well, you can get a video or a DVD (see our Videography for available titles). You can also find RealVideo clips of them on the Internet (see the Audio-Video section of our Links listing to get the URLs).
One thing you won't find in those lists is "Made in Japan" (a very frequently-asked question). Sadly, this historic concert was never filmed (well, nobody knew it would be historic at the time! ;^). There's also no footage of their Knebworth appearance in 1985 apart from a 3-minute featurette by the BBC.
Are there any bootlegs of the band?
Yes, lots of them. You can find the details of many of them as part of Martin Ashberry's tourdates list, as well as Ingo Fengler's exhaustive catalogue (in published form as the "Come Boot The Band" series, and we've preserved his online list) which sadly seems to have been abandoned.
Best of all, Deep Purple has joined forces with an Australian publisher and brought out a box set collecting some of the finest bootlegs from the reunion years. This is the The Bootleg Series 1984-2000, and there are further releases planned.
Traditionally, the best sources of bootlegs have been record fairs, mail order companies and smaller independent music stores. However, boots are more difficult to find these days than they were five years ago. There's been a worldwide campaign to stamp them out in recent years. Traders in many countries, including the UK and US, have been aggressively prosecuted, and countries such as Italy which previously had relaxed laws about unofficial releases have tightened up those laws making bootlegging illegal.
The result is that in many countries, it is now almost impossible to find bootlegs in shops or fairs. Look around for them. Often, people who own boots are willing to make them available to others, often as part of a trade. People post reviews of boots every now and then on amd-p. Ask politely by private email to the reviewers.
Please note that it is not the position of this author to take any stance on the ethics of bootlegs, except to warn people that it is illegal to make and sell bootlegs in many countries. This is partly what makes packages like The Bootleg Series and The Soundboard Series priceless, and worth encouraging. Send Deep Purple's management a letter showing your support for the project!! legal to make and sell bootlegs in many countries. This is partly what makes packages like The Bootleg Series and The Soundboard Series priceless, and worth encouraging. Send Deep Purple's management a letter showing your support for the project!!