I've got the disc, and it's mostly excellent. It is, however, one for the CD programmer, because there are a couple of things on it that I don't want to hear again as well as some things that I may or may not want to skip depending on my mood. Of course, there is no reason to skip any of the first 7 tracks on any occasion. The material is impeccable, and at least compared to my old cassette copy, the sound is much improved with a good deal of extra high and low end as well as better resolution, if that means anything. The sound of all the individual instruments is more life-like and real, (proving Alex Gitlin's point about Purple's old productions - but you're still wrong about _|_ Alex:-)) and while the original mix has it's lesser moments, my impression of the recording is one of great power and crispness.
The bonus tracks... well forget about the Noise Abatement Society track. While showcasing the techniques of Ritchie, Jon and Ian, it is still a drunken, out-of-tune racket. OTOH, a properly played version of the William Tell ouverture by DP might work well within a concert. The backwards piano is not all that much fun to listen to either (at least not if it's played forward without No One Came around it... The remix of SKOW is not my cup of tea either. Too mushy, although I won't necessarily skip that every time. The other remixes though are OK, although it is difficult to tell the difference from the original mixes.
Then there are the outtakes. Well, Freedom and I'm Alone are not all that new to me, and compared to the core tracks of Fireball, they pale a bit. However, Slow Train is a gem, and one that will keep the songographers pulling their hair out. It is obvious to me that, like I'm Alone, Slow Train owes a lot to Grabsplatter, riff-wise, but towards the end it also has a bit of the beat that we all know as Highway Star. We can now fill in part of the family tree of Purple songs:
- I'm Alone / / Grabsplatter --- Slow Train ---- Highway Star
In any case, it's early evidence of recycling as well as proof that The Purps never stop working on an idea, even if they're not realising it at the time. But then, there are no bad ideas, right?
Summing up: musically the new version is well worth your trouble. The booklet
is cool too.
But beware of one or two of the tracks.
(BTW After listening to the album for the first time, I wanted to hear it again but a strange instinct made me switch on the radio. Just as I switched, the local radio DJ was announcing some cultural event over the intro to a track by The Hooded Crow, my own band. Radio airplay and a new DP release - two things to make my day.)