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Unchain your brain before listening

Gillan_PurpleBox Back In The Game – Live (1978-1982)

Cherry Red Records has a 6CD live box of Gillan (the band): Back In The Game – Live (1978-1982). It includes:

  • Live at The Marquee 1978
    Recorded at The Marquee Club, London, 27th December 1978; with guest appearance from Ritchie Blackmore
  • Live in Tokyo 1978
    Recorded at Shinjuku Koseinenkin Hall, Japan, 23rd October 1978
  • Live at Hammersmith 1980
    Recorded at Hammersmith Odeon, London, 14th October 1980
  • Live in Aachen 1981
    Recorded at Eurogress, Aachen, Germany, 17th June 1981
  • Live in Glasgow 1982
    Recorded at the Apollo, Glasgow, Scotland, 6th November 1982
  • Live at Wembley 1982
    Recorded at Wembley Arena, London, 17th December 1982

Promotional blurb includes a disclaimer about sound quality of some “material drawn from various, non-standard sources”, so probably there’s no magic happening here. Please report if you have heard this particular release. See the label site for further info and complete track listing.

Thanks to dal1962ton for the heads-up.

27 Comments to “Unchain your brain before listening”:

  1. 1
    George Martin says:

    All of these shows have been release separately in the past. Most of them are on the Angel Air label. If you are a collector of Gillan like myself you probably have all of them like me. I was hoping there would be one or two that I don’t have but that is not the case. The quality does vary but the shows are good. Worth buying if you don’t have them already.

  2. 2
    Uwe Hornung says:

    I remember Ian sounding very rough on the Wembley gig, but no matter, I’ll get the box though I have most of it already. Hadn’t been aware of the Aachen show having been released previously (I need to get out more!).

    Gillan live – compared to the high caliber musicianship of the previous Ian Gillan Band – could always be a bit ramshackle. They didn’t have the warm halo of Whitesnake nor the discipline of Rainbow, but that was part of their charm, that frantic punkish energy. John McCoy was a brilliant bassist and Colin Towns is of course a one of a kind musician. I was never really wedded to the guitarists (Tormé was a sight and Gers more Ritchie; I never saw them with Steve Byrd, their first lead guitarist, but he sounded interesting on the Japanese debut), none of them seemed to have the sense of fluid melody, say, Bernie Marsden had.

    Some of the best Gillan tracks never got played live.



    Not a Gillan (the band) song, but a hugely underrated Gillan/Marsden cooperation:


    I know the production cries “80ies!” in every 12″ groove, but that song should have done a lot better than it did – and not just for the message.

  3. 3
    IvoSan says:

    Seems old stuff form Angel Air. The one I go back and listen regularly is the Aachen 1981.

  4. 4
    MacGregor says:

    A nice song that Fiji is, I have never heard that as it wasn’t on the original vinyl release. Those 80’s electronic drums, they haven’t aged well. There are a few artists I have albums of from the 1980’s & I struggle to listen to them today, if at all because of that technology, keyboards are also included in that. Not sure about the Nightmare song though & I do remember that song. I couldn’t imagine that would have gone down to well with the hordes of Gillan crowds. Too commercial that chorus. When I witnessed the Gillan band live in 1981 it was all hard & raucous rock ‘n roll from memory. High octane indeed. Thanks for the ‘new’ song. Cheers.

  5. 5
    Max says:

    @2 I always liked Fiji a lot … still do. But having discovered Steely Dan only lately it sure put a smile on my face to listen to one of their albums and find out where that Fiji-theme came from. Very easy to point out – and maybe the reason Gillan did not release it properly. Maybe Colin Towns had fooled around with that Dan-tune in the studio …

  6. 6
    MacGregor says:

    @ 5 – intrigued to know which Steely Dan tune as I have a few of their albums. Royal Scam, Aja, Can’t Buy A Thrill & Pretzel Logic. I didn’t pick that, although I only listened to it once & as I said I haven’t heard Fiji before today. Cheers.

  7. 7
    David B says:

    All previously released by Angel Air. The Marquee is a definite bootleg and the quality for the encore is appalling. Tokyo is interesting as it’s pre Torme. Aachen the best gig imo with Hammersmith second. Glasgow & Wembley prove that Gillan was struggling vocally towards the end of the band but are both worth having.

  8. 8
    Uwe Hornung says:

    Fiji is a McCoy composition, not a Colin Towns one. And a very typical McCoy song at that, the way the chords are layered over his hypnotic bass line. His melodic songwriting often defied his “Hulk” image on stage.

    I now realize that I do have the Aachen ’81 gig, I had just forgotten that ‘On The Rocks’ had been recorded there!

  9. 9
    Rock Voorne says:

    @ Took a short like at NIGHTMARE.

    Never expexted this man to lose so much hair, knowing him like that.
    On the other hand, mine was close to it in my heydays, but unfortunately…

    OZZY always said to shave it off when long hairdos were wearing thin.
    I did so, but that was a long time ago, it sure helped, but hey…..Didnt Ozzy cheat with wigs or….?

  10. 10
    Uwe Hornung says:

    Dunno RV, but I thought Ian’s hair in Gillan and Black Sabbath actually a bit much, memories of Cousin Itt of the Addams Family come to mind …


  11. 11
    Max says:

    @ 6: If memory serves me right I was listening to Pretzel Logic for the first time (and havn’t since though I really enjoyed it) and suddenly noticed a strinking simularity to Fiji in one of the songs. Havn’t got the time now but I’ll put it on again.

    @8: Didn’t check …I just assumed Colin Towns might have liked Steely Dan … as he was the “jazzy” guy in that outfit.

  12. 12
    Gregster says:

    @4…Geez…That flu-thing you have is really taking its toll on you yo ! You’re not liking electric guitars, keyboards & drums…

    Not much left to listen to lol !

    Peace !

  13. 13
    Uwe Hornung says:

    “I just assumed Colin Towns might have liked Steely Dan … as he was the “jazzy” guy in that outfit.”

    Most people would, but looks can be deceiving, Max! THIS was John Mcoy’s band BEFORE Gillan: Zzebra (sic!) were a UK jazz rock outfit with inter alia members of Osibisa where John MCoy played an amazingly jazzy “lead bass” …




    with an occasional Ethno slant:


    That was always one of life’s ironies to me, John Gustafson, McCoy’s predecessor was a rocker who proceeded to play jazz rock with IGB while John McCoy was a true blood jazzer who came to unceremoniously play rock with Gillan.

    That’s where John Mcoy got his amazing high speed chops and precision from: By having for years played this very sophisticated and speedy Return to Forever’ish jazz rock.

    What I really liked about Gillan (the band) was how diverse they were: A beast like John McCoy with someone like Bernie Tormé who looked like an extra from an Adam Ant video, spiced up by an “introverted musical lone genius” keyboarder (Colin Towns) and a “don’t give me no bullshit, been there, done that”-drummer like Mick Underwood. Plus, of course, wild-maned Ian Gillan, the rock star.

    For all his bass playing brilliance, it would have been unfathomable for someone like John McCoy,

    https://www.nolifetilmetal.com/images/gillan_mccoy.jpg ,

    bald and overweight as he was, to play with either Rainbow or Whitesnake, because both Ritchie and DC had this narrow-minded, reactionary concept of how rock musicians have to look. Their loss. And proof how Ian Gillan surveyed/surveys his social surroundings with some more depth and is a fearless man unperturbed by the preconceptions of others.

  14. 14
    Uwe Hornung says:

    Jjohn with hhair in Zzebra ddays sstrangling Lasisi “Loughty” Amao (ex-Osibisa):


  15. 15
    MacGregor says:

    McCoy & Towns were the songwriters & musicians that Ian Gillan needed, as he does in other bands. Being a vocalist who writes lyrics & sings melodies is one thing, but the music that goes with it is the key in an ensemble. Impressive musicians McCoy & Towns & the Gillan band had many good songs especially if getting away from the thrashy sort of songs (as good as they appeared to be back in the day). Yes as the saying goes ‘never judge a book by it’s cover’ certainly big John McCoy was that & more. I have always been impressed by them & it is a shame that they all fell out with Gillan. There is something in that water that Blackmore & Gillan did consume. @ 12 – yes it a curse the devil bug, but did you notice I have left bass guitarists alone lately, even praising them at times, so it hasn’t all been doom & gloom, ha ha ha. Seriously though the 80’s cheesy keyboards are terribly & fake, that technology at that time was dire, it obviously had to happen to get to the other side & develop more realistic sounds etc. Also electronic drums, the less said about them the better. Electric guitarist who play too loud with heaps of unnecessary over the top distortion are another breed. We have to be able to hear everything in it’s place. Maybe it is my hearing these days & the ‘grumpy’ older man speaking, as when we were younger it all sounded so grand. Cheers.

  16. 16
    Max says:

    @13 Thanks for the Nachhilfe, Uwe! I had read about Zzebra as McCoy’s band before his Gillan days but forgotten about it since. Those days it just wasn’t so easy to check something out and I couldn’t get my hands on a Zzebra album back then! 😉 I only knew one other project of the man in question: Mammoth. Which wasn’t exactly jazzy. What I do know is some of the albums Colin Towns recorded since Gillan disbanded and there is some really weird stuff to discover most of which can be described as jazz – if it can be tagged at all.

    Did enjoy the Zzebra tracks. And – as always with your posts – a striking fine discreption. In this case of the men involved in Gillan. Cheers!

  17. 17
    MacGregor says:

    Big John McCoy, I am surprised in a sense as to his ‘fusion’ background with Zzebra. I had a listen to a few of their tracks & read about them as I have never heard of them before. As you said a bit Return to Forever or even McLaughlin, Santana a little & even Weather Report. A fine guitarist in Terry Smith. Never heard of the Irish drummer Liam Genockey or Dave Quincy the sax player before or even Loughty Amaolate & Gus Eadon. All wonderful musicians though. The later keyboard player Tommy Eyre is known of course. Colin Towns name has popped up on a few British tv series credits over the years since the Gillan band, a busy & gifted musician & composer he is. Seems like some of them just needed to rock out a little for a while with Gillan. Maybe to let their hair down a little, sorry that was a poor attempt again at humour of some sort. John McCoy would not be impressed. Thanks for the links. Cheers.

  18. 18
    Uwe Hornung says:

    But Herr MacGregor, some of that 80ies stuff was plain lovely!







  19. 19
    Uwe Hornung says:

    Ah, yes Mammoth, I really liked them. Why this here didn’t conquer the airwaves is beyond me:


    It could have actually been one of those melodic Gillan numbers. And it’s very much John McCoy’s songwriting recipe: His charging, yet stoic bass playing, the speed and energy of the number plus the way the undistorted guitar chords/arpeggios are harmonically layered over the chugging rhythm, very much like in Gillan’s Restless (one of my favorite numbers from them):


    Same thing here, just slower (John coming to grips with Gillan’s demise, he really took it hard):


  20. 20
    Uwe Hornung says:

    Stumbled across this accidentally on purpose, never seen that footage before, Gillan in great, ferocious voice, he really took no prisoners with his vocal cords back then, in hindsight probably a mistake:


    Interview snippets are interesting too, unfortunately the German dubbing gets in the way too often.

  21. 21
    MacGregor says:

    It is the technology Uwe, I sort of didn’t mind it at the time, however it has caught up with me. Also the artists from the previous eras using new technology & their choice of instrument was woeful indeed. Rick Wakeman’s choice of keyboards, unbelievably bad & a cheap toy sounding. Genesis also, but then again better off not listening. What about Jethro Tull & that woeful Under Wraps album 1984, no drummer, replaced by a drum machine??? Welcome to the Machine indeed. Talk about AL. No issues with musicians trying new technology but some seem to stay with it for too long for some reason. Endorsements possibly, money does talk. Also not having to lug a Hammond organ around had something to do with it & also the poor old Mellotron. I will say I have noticed for decades now that the 80’s was the last decade of decent original songs & also lead vocalists to a degree. After that they became so generic & fifth rate in many ways to my ears. We were spoilt back in the 60’s & 70’s big time. Thankfully my time machine is still working. Cheers.

  22. 22
    Gregster says:

    @21 said…

    “I will say I have noticed for decades now that the 80’s was the last decade of decent original songs & also lead vocalists to a degree. After that they became so generic & fifth rate in many ways to my ears. We were spoilt back in the 60’s & 70’s big time. Thankfully my time machine is still working. Cheers”.

    As people, I suggest that we all have a limit, plus a time-frame through growing-up, where the music we hear influences our thoughts & memories, & stays with us all our lives. So we acquire much-loved reference-points per-se, & if the current-stuff doesn’t trigger these reference points, we decide to go back, & listen to the older material.

    That said, the late 1960’s & 1970’s into the 1980’s were exceptional times for music, & the 15-20 year period of say 1965 to 1985 ish will be remembered as a real golden era for music, that will not be repeated ever again. Some of that music will remain timeless, & never date or age…It will remain good music.

    A great band that moved with all the changes of those times is the WHO. Every record charts a change in sound of the times to back-up what I’m suggesting.

    Stone Temple Pilots carry the torch for myself in today’s times. Regardless of the press, the albums guarantee quality. There isn’t a bad STP recording. If you like one, you’ll like the rest. I hear all the bands I like in their music, & they’re a tight musical team, that work really well together, a notch above their contemporaries, just like DP.

    Peace !

  23. 23
    MacGregor says:

    @ 20- that live Gillan concert is very close to what I witnessed in late 1981. Going off his dial in more ways than one, off his face also. Pre vocal nodules (aka screamers nodes) operation, sheeesh no wonder. @ 22 – yes indeed a time limit is a good way to look at it, also the ‘nostalgia’ effect, very true. But that is one way to look at it, there are more of course. Does it still float the boat, what we like or not like. Has the flame burnt al little lower over the years, but that is back to the time limit thing I guess. Do we still need to hear music as much as we use to? Some people are still searching & that is fine, others not so much. Time again, that clock does still tick over, he he he. I still listen online to certain new music at times. Am I still searching for that lost chord? Yes indeed in a way. Am I hoping for another stellar moment or two when a song or melody moves me like they use to, yes indeed. It is good feeling when that happens. i guess it comes down to time again, how much time listening? It is still there in some ways for me, that curiosity when listening to a song that I have never heard before. Cheers.

  24. 24
    Gregster says:

    @23…There’s still plenty-of-time to appreciate the music, both new & old, as who knows when it’s time to check-out ???

    For sure we have our troubles, but the future is going to be awesome.

    The beauty of the “stuff” made in the 60’s-70’s, is that each album has a time-limit per-side, so a full album can be heard in under 40-minutes. I play discographies-at-a-time, or in DP’s instance Mk’s at a time lol !

    Good radio stations are hard to find however for the new stuff, but “JJJ” is the go if you can find it.

    Peace !

  25. 25
    Max says:

    @20 Nice one! Didn’t see it before either. Thanks for sharing.

    Yes, Mammoth could’ve been bigger …errr…well, you know what I mean.

    Because you lied … felt a bit cringe when I first listened to it. Funny enough Nick Simper did such an revenge-song of sorts too with Fandango.

  26. 26
    Uwe Gerecke says:

    Has this 6CD set actually ever been released?
    I thought I had preordered a copy, but had not. Checking ususal websites a couple of weeks after release date I found the item “out of stock”, “back in stock soon” or “unavailable”. In fact not even any copies on ebay or the likes.
    Yesterday I tried again, with https://www.my-bookstore.net reporting “Erscheint nicht laut Verlag” – no release according to publisher.
    On Cherry Red website I don’t even find a mention of it.

  27. 27
    Uwe Hornung says:

    Hallo Namensvetter, I believe this is now permanently deferred, possibly licensing issues, nothing got ever released.

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