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Live In Denmark 1972
The Highway Star

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Garry Smith
Petri Myllylä
Peter Schöne

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Sit back and enjoy dynamic brilliance

By Garry Smith

Presented in the usual style of Sonic Zoom packaging - an open-out cardboard folder - this show is the soundtrack from the official Scandinavian Nights video that has been available for a number of years. The sleeve notes (by Nigel Young) say that for this CD release, the sound has been taken direct from the original audio reel.

Sound is mono, better than the video, although some of the faults from the video soundtrack - such as the overloud bass (sorry, Rog!) in the final part of The Mule could not be entirely eliminated.

Strange Kind Of Woman, Lazy and Fireball previously appeared on the On The Road box set, and I can't hear any difference between the On The Road tracks and those on this new release.

Here are my thoughts as I listened to it.

Highway Star - the two Ians are well up in the mix, Jon and Ritchie are not. (This probably improves later on - either that or I became used to the mix.) So the sound is a wee bit sparse or raw, not the warmer sound of, say, Made In Japan, to which guitar and organ both contribute more texture.

Strange Kind Of Woman - I find it difficult to find new things to say about these songs. The interchange between Ian and Ritchie here sounds particularly energetic, but maybe that's because Paicey is so far up in the mix, pounding his way all through the track.

Child In Time - how often do you really listen to this track nowadays? It's over 30 years old, you've heard it so many times before - how often do you put that book down, or stop talking, and really concentrate on the music? It's well worth it. In this version, Jon takes most of the solo space in the middle, starting off with a wonderful mellow tone for the classical bit, then moving upbeat and jazzy, almost like Lazy. Ritchie joins in, but their interplay is repetitive, and doesn't develop. But it's a good version - great to hear Jon featuring. As I said, give it a good hard listen, and then reflect at the end on what an extraordinary piece of music you've just heard, with all its moods and dynamics brilliantly presented in about 17 minutes.

The Mule is, of course, the vehicle for Paicey's solo. I can't say if there's anything extraordinary (for Paicey, that is) here. But, given the presence of the drums high up in the mix, I can at least say that the solo is clear and thunderous, though not in stereo. Good chance to listen to Rog in the final part of the track.

Lazy is fairly unremarkable. Jon's intro is not as streamlined as it would be five months later on Made In Japan - otherwise the track is pretty close to the MIJ version. It's good to hear Ritchie taking full part - in fact, the most important thing about this release is probably that we get to hear the Machine Head tracks when they were very fresh. Lazy, for example, is neither as frenetic nor as sleek as on MIJ.

Space Truckin' - terrific start - what a great riff it is! Listening to Ian's vocals, I'm reminded that he must be one of the clearest vocalists in the business - you hear every word (that he remembers) loud and clear. Great pronunciation and enunciation - still true today - and no doubt Messrs Rice and Lloyd-Webber thought so too when they selected him for Jesus Christ Superstar. Fans of big Ian's conga playing are in for a treat at around 8 minutes 30 seconds. Classical spotters will notice Holst's Jupiter and Khachaturian's Sabre Dance. Ian says "goodbye" at the end.

Fireball - the first encore - starts with some tuning up, so it's a short version which is about the same length as the original studio track. (The year before, they were doing versions of about 7 minutes.) Just a straight romp through the track, and straight into...

Lucille - I don't have any notes on this - just another straight work-out. Ian says goodnight again.

Black Night fades in - IIRC the video doesn't include the band returning to the stage. Again, I don't have anything particular to say here.

Overall, it's fine, OK, but fairly unremarkable. Of course, it's a good performance by the band, but there are no special highlights. The BBC concert from a few days later (released as disc 2 in the In Concert package) has long been available, as have MIJ and LIJ. So 1972 was already covered fairly well by official live material. One might uncharitably ask "what's the point of this release?"

I think there are few points. First, it should kill off any bootlegs taken from the video soundtrack. Second, it makes the three tracks from On The Road available in context and at a reasonable price. One of these is Fireball, so - apart from that box set - this is the first time that a Mark 2 1970s live version of that track has been available. Finally, it does fill a gap in the official releases, presenting the setlist before the inclusion of Smoke On The Water. The BBC concert a few days later was a special feature for the just-about-to-be-released Machine Head, and was not representative of their live show at the time.

There is a final reason for buying this. It will encourage Simon Robinson of DPAS - aka Purple Records and Sonic Zoom - to produce more in the series. For that reason alone, reach into your pockets and give this man your money!


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