||EMI box set||
Nearly as perfect as Kylie
Listen Learn Read On is such a massive package that a comprehensive review would be far too big. In short, it is a wonderful box set, with enough in the way of unreleased tracks and rarities to please the most hardened of Deep Purple collectors. It represents good value for money for everyone from the Deep Purple novice to the completist collector.
This review summarises the main goodies on offer.
Starting with the music - this falls into three categories:
Many of the previously released tracks have been remastered for this collection. (They hopefully remastered the rest of the tracks on those albums whilst they were at it!) Many of the "previously unreleased" tracks have been available on bootlegs, but not with the sound quality in which they are presented here.
Here is a list of the previously unreleased tracks:
Quite a list, isn't it?
I have a couple of bootlegs of BBC tracks - BBC Stew and BBC Radio Tracks. There's also one called Rarest At The BBC which I believe is virtually a copy of one of the others. I compared - mostly by date, not by listening - the BBC tracks now officially available on this box set and on the rereleased Mk 1 albums against the tracks on the bootlegs.
The official releases seem to include virtually all of the bootleg tracks, and in better quality, too. There's only one that I'm not sure about - a version of Emmaretta dated 11 February 1969 that appears on BBC Radio Tracks. From listening, I can't tell if this is the same or different from the BBC versions which have been officially released. In addition, BBC Stew has a 1-minute interview (with Rod, IIRC) preceding Hey Joe which hasn't made it onto the official releases.
But, to summarise, don't lose any sleep tracking down the bootlegs. Buy the official releases. Of course, I could be wrong - and there could be BBC tracks which I don't know about. If so, let me know, and we'll correct this review.
Now to the rarities. Of course, one man's rarity is something that another man has been listening to for 30 years. So the definition of a rarity used here is "something you won't have if you only have the official studio albums and live albums - including re-released/remastered versions where available." Previously-released tracks which have been remastered especially for this album have not been counted as rarities. So what does that leave us? Here goes:
A few words about the book. Page size is 13x25cm (to fit inside the box), and there are 112 pages. As Simon Robinson acknowledges, much of it is an amalgam of Chris Charlesworths's Illustrated Biography and the liner notes from the rereleased/remastered albums. After all, there are only so many ways that you can tell the same story. However, the book contains much information that I didn't know - plus lots of cuttings, pictures and memorabilia which I hadn't seen before - so it amounts to much more than the mere sum of its parts!
The Illustrated Biography had a diary list of gigs running down the side of each page. That's not in this book, but Simon does refer to the forthcoming concert diary book Day By Night, by "historical consultant" Nigel Young. That can't come soon enough - I'll have a signed copy for Christmas, please Nigel :-)
That's about it. The whole thing is one of the most beautifully-produced little packages that you've ever seen. Well, OK, maybe it's not quite up there with Kylie Minogue. But it's a pleasure just to hold it in your hands, feel its weight, stroke its cover - no, not Kylie, the box set. The content - music and book - is first rate.
It is a shining example of how a box set should be put together, to appeal and provide value to everyone from the novice to the completist. I'd award it full marks, except that only Allah can achieve perfection. So, in the traditions of Islamic art, the incorrect date and venue for Mandrake Root must have been a deliberate error. Right, Mr Robinson?
What more needs to be said?. Just BUY IT!
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