Worth the wait
By Garry Smith
At Hammersmith in February 2002, Ian Gillan introduced Hush by explaining that it was exactly 100 years since Deep Purple had recorded it. Some might say that Ian is "given to hyperbole" [Careful now, Garry - Rasmus ;^)] - but here is a live album, featuring Hush, which has taken over 33 years - over a third of a century - to reach us. Ian was exaggerating only a little! So what was it like back then, Grandad?
Well, my boy, long ago in a galaxy far away, British bands had been very successfully taking one of America's own musical forms - blues - and selling it back to America. By 1968, however, the British blues invasion was just about over, and musicians were experimenting with more complex music and arrangements - the beginnings of the progressive or 'underground' movement. But a measure of commercial success was needed in order to finance experimentation, and the easiest way to achieve that was to follow the long-established tradition of covering well-known pop songs.
Thus, in October 1968, Cream, one of the best of all British blues band, was making their farewell tour of the USA, supported by another British band who combined pop, blues and progressive, and who had hit the top of the charts with their very first single. In fact, their very name was taken from an old pop hit, yet suggested some sort of mysterious underground experience - Deep Purple.
On Friday and Saturday October 18th and 19th, the tour took them to the Forum, in Inglewood, California. Those of you who know Cream's last album - Goodbye - may not know that the live tracks on it were recorded at the Inglewood Forum on Saturday 19th. Sadly, it seems very unlikely that the support band was recorded that night.
The CD booklet tells us that on the Friday someone from DP's record company had tried to capture their performance on a handheld video camera. The quality of the picture is apparently completely useless, but the soundtrack survived quite well.
A few years ago, the soundtrack leaked out, and a bootleg CD called Inglewood 10.18.68 appeared.
The DPAS release
Now the DPAS has gone back to the original video tape, cleaned up the sound, and issued it as the second in their official bootleg series.
The packaging is the same format as the first in the series, Space Vol 1 & 2. Cardboard CD digipack, with an eight-page booklet in a pocket inside the front cover. The booklet is full of information - some of which has already been mentioned. Worth noting is that DP had done less than 20 live shows when this one was recorded. Only one other Mk 1 live recording is known, so this is very likely to be the earliest live DP you'll ever hear.
Sound quality? Well, it's not as good as that on Space. I can't compare it directly to the Inglewood bootleg CD, because I don't have that. I do, however, have a tape of it which I believe is a fairly low generation, and the sound on this DPAS release is much better than that on my tape - much clearer and brighter. DPAS significantly improved the sound quality on Space - I'm pretty sure they'll have done that with Inglewood too.
There are seven tracks, totalling about 50 minutes. This was the full set from the show - short because DP were the support act. Interesting that only two out of the seven were originals, and the other five were covers. Track times below are taken from the CD booklet.
Hush - 4:44
Kentucky Woman - 4:42
Mandrake Root - 9:36
Help - 5:33
Wring That Neck - 6:00
River Deep Mountain High - 9:18
Hey Joe - 7:57
I think that Inglewood is a very 1960s mix of rock, pop, progressive and classical music. It's often a bit pretentious too - the intros to River Deep and Hey Joe being the obvious examples.
Jon sounds well-developed as a player, but seems to be very much rooted in classical music - we don't hear the bluesy Hammond that came later. Tackling complex arrangements early in their career shows that they were all pretty good musicians, though.
A strange mix of music - the Beatles, Neil Diamond, extended instrumentals. The performance is good, very competent, yet there is no real "WOW!" factor just yet. I feel things could have gone in any direction after this - including the rapid demise of just another good competent band which never quite hit the target.
But as we know, just a few months later Rod and Nick were out, the direction was firmly established, and the rest is legend.
All photos courtesy of the DPAS archives.