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New DVD: Priceless content poorly presented

hh-h-sleeve.jpgI bought my copy of the new Deep Purple DVD History, Hits and Highlights 3 weeks ago. This is my review. The title – odd as it sounds – has some justification after seeing it a couple of times.

There is a great number of highlights indeed which easily justify this purchase – incredible live performances from various dates. Some of them songs that weren’t played live very often and up to now unobtainable even on audio releases, such as “Demon’s Eye” – which gets a creative treatment here and somehow transforms into the vocal-guitar battle of “Strange Kind of Woman”  – or the “Musikladen” appearance of “No, No, No”, which may not catch the band in their tightest moment, but nicely displays the daring approach of those days: always urging to depart from the original, improvising and searching for the magic moment.

There is truckloads of those magic moments in the previously unreleased footage of the more familiar MK I tunes, “Wring That Neck” and “Mandrake Root” from late 1969 and 1970. It’s hard to find words for the energy level contained here: a band in a creative frenzy, an almost desperate determination to create sounds that nobody heard before, to turn the concert into an extraordinary experience for audience and band. Unbelievable!!!

All right , there are the hits as well. Inevitable as they are with regard to the bands history, the form in which they are presented on the DVD isn’t quite up to the mark. More often than not they combine the familiar album tracks with some more or less imaginative video. At best, this presents mildly amusing contemporary ideas of artsiness (Help, Speed King) or is at least funny when Ritchie takes the playback in Fireball all too seriously and plays his guitar on its backside. But sometimes it’s only stupid, like the pathetic video to “Strange Kind of Woman” or the blurred snippets from various live performances that flicker over the screen during “Never Before”. Thank god, there’s a “skip” button on my remote control.

The History aspect is a mixed bag. Of course every clip is a strong document of the history of the band as well as of the time period in general. [see report on Made In Japan footage included. Ed] The transformation of band, music, appearances, styles, venues and audiences in those 8 years is astonishing:  The  MK I days with a slightly uneasy, almost self-conscious band contrasting nicely with their own stylised fashion and the somewhat forced party atmosphere in Hefner’s Playboy Mansion.

The MK II period in an often raw, almost puristic setting: One of the venues literally looks like a lecture hall of a university (guessing from the booklet of “Scandinavian Nights” it actually IS Leeds University), in which apart from setting the stage no effort whatsoever has been made to accommodate for the special atmosphere of a rock concert: No backdrops, no lights, nothing!  Audiences are mostly seated (in bright light!!!), with a weird mix of long-faced poofs “seriously listening to the music” and a few exalted hippies freaking out and emulating the mayhem on stage.

Musicwise it’s surely annoying to have the audience comments dubbed over “Demon’s Eye”, just because it’s such a rarely performed song. But the comments as such are revealing – nerdy guys complaining about Purple not improvising and merely going through the motions, when you can actually hear them jamming their heads off!  Hilarious!
Come Mk III and it’s all proper rock’n’roll shows, with a huge lightshow, clouds of dry ice and the proverbial sweaty crowd of hardrock fans – and before long the stereotypical rockstar poses kick in.

Apart from the strength of the original material there’s not much in this release that does justice to the term “history”. The initial twenty minutes are nice, but have a somewhat “rushed” feel to it – the snippets used are all too short to be really informative, and some of them must have been longer! As it is presented here, the history doesn’t contain anything the informed fan wouldn’t know anyway but I doubt that any uninitiated viewer can make something out of those very condensed and sometimes rather allusive than outspoken minutes. But the decision as such to tag the history on at the beginning and leave the rest of the material to speak for itself can’t be criticised.

More critical is the way this material is presented. The division on two discs is irritating to say the least – if disc 2 isn’t what is usually called a “bonus CD” it’s a somewhat poor excuse to include the same material twice.

From a historical point of view, it’s sad, that  the MK II songs aren’t presented in chronological order. After “Child in Time” you get “Lazy” from Denmark which was recorded in 1972 shortly before “Machine Head” was released. Then it’s back to the Fireball-period with “Strange Kind of Woman” and then even further back to Winter 1970/71 to the writing sessions of Fireball. It’s also hard to understand, why “Demon’s Eye” and “Into the Fire”, which originate from the same concert, are interrupted by “No No No”. Very unhistorical if you ask me!

The same – somehow careless – approach shows in the missing information about the origin of the footage on Disc 1. How can something that bears the word “history” in its title not name the sources? Inexplicable and inexcusable is of course the complete omission of the “Stormbringer” album, all the more so, as you see some 10 seconds from a live performance of the title track in the “history”-part. Why don’t we get to see more?

That such a number of questions remains unanswered is also due to the quality of the booklet – which is rich in visual material but poor in text. Geoff Barton doesn’t contribute much more than the predictable blabla.  As such, the booklet falls way short of the standard that Simon Robinson has set with the Sonic Zoom releases in which he went out of his way to explain the special circumstances of the respective release, where they found the footage, how much it contained, what choices had to be made, which drawbacks had to be accepted etc. etc. With the booklet of the HHH release, the fan is left to his own devices, which may also raise unfair criticism.  

A bit annoying is also the selection or rather restriction of the material. As much as I value the effort to bring in material from a wide range of sources, sometimes it seems that several tracks have been left out on purpose in order to maintain the interest level for other releases. The “Doing their Thing”-video, from which “Child in Time” has been taken, isn’t very easy to get and with only 3 songs not the best value for money either, but it contains a blistering rendition of “Speed King” which I would have loved to see on this DVD.

The same goes for “Fireball”, which is on the “Live in Denmark Video”. This on the other hand, wouldn’t have killed the market for the full video. And for a good extra, they might have as well thrown in the remaining three titles of the obscure “Rises over Japan” video – I doubt many people will buy this one.

So is it worth the money? As always with those releases – yes. Does it have its drawbacks? Again – yes. Unfortunately they always manage to get their fair share of incomprehensible blurs on their releases.

Compared to the Led Zeppelin DVD, which is immaculate in every respect, this is a shame. But as someone put it – that’s what happens if you hire pencilheads.

Crazy Horst



31 Comments to “New DVD: Priceless content poorly presented”:

  1. 1
    scott says:

    the omission of sources (track dates and locations) put me on a mission from the first day i got the set. i did a few weekends work on it and it can be seen on the DP HUB now, and a few international fanzines later.

  2. 2
    Gillan89 says:

    Well said !
    I totally agree with you Crazy Horst

  3. 3
    beardawg says:

    I agree with this review 100%….I was dissappointed! I took it out and put in Rainbow live in Munich; and afterwards I put in Californa Jam DVD’s which is a heck of a lot better DVD’s!

  4. 4
    purplepriest1965 says:

    Like I said before…..
    They succeed in messing things up again and again……

    Such a shame with this excellent stuff

  5. 5
    Crimson Ghost says:

    Horst,

    Contact me at this email addy, please.
    purplexed@msn.com

    I won’t rebut any of this, I just think you need to cantact me for some huge insight concerning these and many other clips.
    It helps that we’re locally connected too, so drop me a line.

  6. 6
    Scott says:

    Good review…thanks

  7. 7
    Jaro says:

    Good review Crazy H.
    Compared To Led Zeppelin DVD it’s really shame.
    Peter Grant was much better than Mrs E.& Mr C.together.
    Second reason is fact that Jimmy Page poduced this spectacular dvd.
    Maybe If Ritchie would be involved in production…
    Led Zeppelin was a band of friends.
    Purple still struggle…
    It is very sad.

  8. 8
    purplepriest1965 says:

    @ 7

    Yep, SAD IS THE WORD

    The same accounts for, btw, Ronnie and Sabbath

    Saw the live performance of them in Germany yesterday evening on a DVD copy of the WDR recording.

    I saw them in 1992
    That was a great show.
    They were HUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUGGGGEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    And now?
    I feel, my opinion ofcourse, is there have been better days for them……
    Dio, still a great performer and immense respect for him in many ways, is not the singer he once was.
    I KNOW he is old, but…..

    And ofcourse Vinnie Appice comparing to Ian Paice, Cozy or Bobby Rondinelli is also hopeless…..

    Dont care about Geezer being a bit overweight and Iommi is till that charismatic RiffMeister.

    And although there is still a great amount of quality and passion and joy and so on to be found in the Heaven and Hell incarnation of today, I found myself sad.

    What could they have done and become all those years ago if they had not become troubled socially?!

  9. 9
    Crazy Horst says:

    I have to correct myself in a point or two.
    The suggestion to substitute “Speed King” with the live footage from “Doing Their Thing” was made unaware of the fact that “Child in Time” is the only complete song on “Doing Their Thing”. So I have to downgrade my idea from a substitution to an addition.

    Something I forgot to mention is to talk about the version of “Mandrake Root” on CD 1 – I thought it was Leeds university, this site says its Southbank.
    After the second listening I am absolutely convinced that there are at least 3 edits in it. And really strange ones that interrupt the flow of the music. So who made those? Could have also be worth explaining in the liner notes.

  10. 10
    Jerry says:

    I am surprised and dissapointed how critical many have been of this release. I for one was very impressed with the overall footage not to say the general sound and picture quality. I also recently interviewed the producer Drew Thompson for the forthcoming issue of More Black than Purple and there are plenty of fascinating aspects about this production, not least what it actually cost to produce.

    I think once people know what efforts had gone in to tracking down and licensing all this footage, they might not be so quick to criticise. Needless to say some of the footage that isn’t included only came to light after the production was completed.

    Before people shout “but it’s been on YouTube for years”, let’s not forget that it requires tracking down the original footage from TV companies etc for a project like this and that can take years, and there has to be a cut off point when doing that.

    It might not be perfect but it’s the best round up of Purple material to have graced a DVD to date. I sometimes think Purple fans don’t realise how lucky they are with the amount of releases that have been put out over the years containing rare and previously unavailable material.

    I agree that a bit more written information about the sources would have been welcomed, but overall, sadly the Internet is an all too easy platform to criticise the creative work of others. Quite often by people who don’t create anything themself.

    As for the comment by Jaro reference the Page produced DVD and getting Ritchie involved in this, when will the penny finally drop with you guys? Page lives and breathes Zep, it’s all he is really interested in. Blackmore has never been interested in the production side, not least with his back catalogue, you clearly have no understanding of the man if you think he would spend a year working on a DVD project like Page did! Wake up and get back to reality, Blackmore has virtually no interest in his back catalogue, and be grateful that there are people passionate enough to spend the time in putting stuff like this together.

    If a decade or so ago someone would have said nearly five hours of footage would be released that included the Leeds Poly Project, MK1 doing Wring That Neck in the studio, a never before seen MKIV documentary and classic MKII performances from Paris and Queen Elizabeth Hall, London, I’m sure fans would have been jumping with joy.

    Just think how bands such as Pink Floyd have not had anything remotely like this compiled. Sometimes it’s easier to forget just how lucky we are.

  11. 11
    Crimson Ghost says:

    Jerry,

    Think again… for just one instance, where did they ‘obtain’ rights to the Budokan 75 footage?

    I’ll answer that myself, they didn’t! It appears on this title 100% unauthorised, unless you can prove that wrong.
    Not to mention they used the version from the original release that was quickly pulled because of no proper rights reserved. I still have my original shelf VHS copy of that, it’s garbage compared to the BEAUTIFUL version which a friend from Sweden recently produced from beta master. The sound and visual quality between the two are night and day, it’s like watching a good show now, it’s that much better!

    Some of us have been working hard enough to obtain this footage ourselves in as good of quality as anything on this.

    About Page, huh, that DVD is poor imo.
    About Blackmore… are you saying you somehow commend the man for such deserting behavior? lol!

  12. 12
    Jerry says:

    I’m not going to get in a spat about the rights to the footage you mentioned as I am not privvy to that information, but I still think the DVD is full of wonderful footage that fans should be celebrating.

    Of course Purple and the management of the day were clearly short sighted by not filming every minute of every gig on 35mm film with 15 cameras. Surely they must have realised at the time that 40 years later Purple fans would be complaining that they didn’t document every moment but you can’t turn back time, so just enjoy what great footage there is.

    Regarding Blackmore, I did not say I commended him for not showing interest in his back catalogue, I am merely pointing out the harsh reality, and that anyone who thinks he would get involved in such a project is clearly living in a fantasy world.

  13. 13
    Crimson Ghost says:

    I fully agree about Blackmore, Jerry, those are definitely the facts. And not worth much commend other than respect for his wishes.

    I only mentioned about the rights because because you mentioned something about Drew and what a job it is to obtain them. There sure is a few very good questions concerning footage I would love to ask myself.

    Cheers

  14. 14
    Jerry says:

    Since previous comments were posted about rights I have been assured that, “The Rises Over Japan concert film was paid for by DP(O) with a contribution from Warner Pioneer in return for certain limited rights. The use of footage in the History, Hits and Highlights ’68-’76 is completely authorised.”

    One should be careful about making potentially libellous comments. It would also be nice if people actually identified who they are rather than hide behind pseudonyms.

    I also know for a fact that Tony Edwards financed the production of this DVD, and without that it was unlikely to have seen the light of day, so Tony should be thanked for getting this together.

    Come on guys let’s have some positivity for a change, it’s a damn fine release. Only annoying thing is my DVD player isn’t working at the moment so I can’t watch it right now!

  15. 15
    TONY EDWARDS says:

    Dear Larry (Crimson Ghost)
    You wrote “Think again… for just one instance, where did they ‘obtain’ rights to the Budokan 75 footage? I’ll answer that myself, they didn’t! It appears on this title 100% unauthorised, unless you can prove that wrong.”

    Well Jerry may not be in a position to contradict you—–but I surely am and can.
    The ROJ concert film was produced and paid for by Deep Purple (Overseas) with a contribution from the then Warner Pioneer in return for certain limited rights. The use of footage in the History, Hits and Highlights-’68-’76 is completely authorised

    Sorry, Larry. Must end the correspondence here.

  16. 16
    purplepriest1965 says:

    I wholeheartedly agree that the DVD contains a lot to cherish, enjoy and so on.
    But its a fact that it leaves some desires unfulfilled.
    Hopefully in time they will be adressed.
    Before I really get too old, please!!!!

    The disturbed chronology of the tracks puzzles me.
    Why did they do that?
    Well, one can always program the DVD differently?

    Blackers not showing interest in his backcatalogue is something I doubt.
    Did he not, for example, get in conflict with Roger the moment he was choosing different takes for the Machine Head 2 disc?
    On the whole ofcourse one would wish he showed the same drive to take care of projects like Pagey did.

    Leaves Roger and Ian Paice next in line probably to take over those responsibilities?
    Together with people like Simon Robinson it would make a trio to rely on , IMHO.

    Were they not involved here?

  17. 17
    Crimson Ghost says:

    Just to respond, Tony, I’m glad that particular footage is authorized.

    It’s stull puzzling as to why the low quality version was used then.

    Best

  18. 18
    Twanky says:

    I don’t think it’s the content, as such , that’s the problem. it’s the disjointed way that it’s set out on the 2 dvd’s. After waiting for this DVD for a while, i was disappointed. Very poor booklet indeed as well.. Oh well !!

  19. 19
    Crimson Ghost says:

    It’s a fairly ongoing subject with collectors, so I’ll further elaborate.

    This is the last concern I went over with “ROJ”
    Of course the source is considered gospel, but there is speculation.

    Notice how Simon says “it may have been released in Japan but whether permission was sought is not known”
    It was in fact of course released there as I have an original copy, but it was deleted very quickly and some think it’s because of what Simon expressed. Therefore something concerning rights was an issue.
    He also says “no DVD rights exist for this” but thats understood, whats not is why on earth if all rights are in place for this DVD release, then why wasn’t more integrity put into obtaining the much better quality version? It’s really my only complaint, the quality of a good portion of the rest of the footage was taken better care of in that dept. But even some of them aren’t the best that can be found.
    My confusion and concern are not my own, thats for sure.

    Q:
    I just want to get this matter straight: Is the Tokyo 1975 video “Rises Over Japan” official or not? It’s been discussed in some hubs regarding the treatment of this video and I’m confused on the different opinions being given there by the bloggers. These are my questions for this particular video: 1) Is this video copyrighted? 2) Why was it only released in Japan and for a short period of time? 3) Is it also just like the Classic Rock productions which don’t have the rights for the footages? 4) Does the airing of the promotional videos in some German Broadcasting network in the 80’s constitute that this video is official and not a bootleg nor pirate? 5) Will this be included for the future releases The Deep Purple Archive Collections? 6) This video is floating in trading places for years and if it’s the case, then is it prohibited to sell this? I look forward to your reply on this matter. Thanks a lot and hope that I will be enlighten. Anthony Leyson

    A:
    This film was shot as a promo for Warners in Japan and some other EMI territories. It may have been issued in Japan but whether permission was sought isn’t known. It was scheduled in Europe in the 80s but never got beyond test pressing before lawyers had it stopped. Yes some clips have been used on TV but these were obtained from EMI. The original film has been located and will be used to master from for DVD in the future. No DVD rights for this exist and any copies you see are probably pirated off one of the Japanese releases (see above). Simon / dpas
    =====

    Cheers

  20. 20
    Crimson Ghost says:

    The fine quality version of Budokan 75 is not from the same source as the VHS and LD release on Warner Pioneer. It absolutely can’t be, because it’s outstanding by comparison. No red lights drowning out the picture, it has great lighting and clarity throughout, and better sound as well. Not to mention has a proper running track order, starting with “Burn” not “SOTW.”

    So hopefully if and when it does see a release on it’s own DVD, the proper quality version will sought after and used, and as I said, it’s from Beta Master.

  21. 21
    Made in England says:

    @ 10.

    I think everyone is generally very impressed with the overall footage – how could we not be? This is Deep Purple in their halcyon days.

    “I also recently interviewed the producer Drew Thompson for the forthcoming issue of More Black than Purple and there are plenty of fascinating aspects about this production, not least what it actually cost to produce.
    I think once people know what efforts had gone in to tracking down and licensing all this footage, they might not be so quick to criticise. Needless to say some of the footage that isn’t included only came to light after the production was completed.”

    Your point is well taken, even if it is a poorly disguised advert for your next mag. If the producers of this DVD had taken the trouble to inform us of this extremely interesting and – at least in my mind – crucial information about the making of the collection I’m sure we all would have been less critical – having been better informed. My only criticism of this release was the piss-poor packaging and total lack of information. A point you appear to agree with whilst criticising others for voicing it. I did also quibble about the hacking up of otherwise complete performances but what the heck. I might also have complained about a mkII soundtrack over a mkIV video clip but I don’t suppose we can expect perfection.

    At the end of the day when I pay for a product I reserve the right to criticise it. It COULD have been an awesome release. All it managed to be was a good release.

  22. 22
    Jerry says:

    Re; 21. Why should the producers “inform us of this extremely interesting and crucial information about the making of the collection”?

    I don’t have a problem with people criticising something, as you say, it’s their prerogative. Unfortunately on a purely personal level, I just find the Internet sadly provides a platform for endless criticism, often with little thought behind it.

    I read so much negativity, which also, often ends up with people who are not particularly articulate, hurling abuse at one another, whilst hiding their identities under pseudonyms, and unprepared to stand up and be counted. One look at the level of poorly constructed and vitriolic comments posted on YouTube is good evidence of that.

    However, constructive criticism certainly has its value. Reference the MKII soundtrack over the MKIV footage. It was produced that way by the TV company of the day, and it was decided to present it as per the original TV broadcast.

    I agree it certainly seems odd, although I doubt the producers at the time were necessarily aware of the line-up differences. One wonders whether they were allowed to record the sound from the concert, or whether there were technical issues with it? But ask yourself if it would make sense to, for instance, to have overdubbed it with an official live recording of MKIV, given that it would then have sound from a concert that actually hadn’t happened at the time this was filmed!

    Needless to say, the original rushes never seem to survive. Therefore reference comment number 9 by Horst, on the superb Mandrake Root clip. This is as it was edited for the TV broadcast; it’s all we have! Granada did the same with the Doing Their Thing broadcast, and although it’s frustrating the full performances haven’t survived, that’s life I’m afraid!

    I think we will all agree that TV productions in those days weren’t always the best. The inappropriate camera shots on the Denmark ’72 footage is a perfect example of that, and those old enough will remember how often on programmes such as TOTP, that come the guitar solos, invariably the camera would be focused on the bass player or drummer.

  23. 23
    purplepriest1965 says:

    Hi Jerry

    Again you complain about people hiding behind pseudonyms.
    Even with pseudonyms one should beware of people tracking you down and giving you a hard time, is my understanding, so……

    The point about negativity and not being particularly articulate I can understand although I feel HERE its not as overwhelming as it sometimes is.

    Personally I m not that negative about the DVD, but a certain dissappointment is there yes.

    I just hoped for a top notch product including a fine and elaborate booklet.

    Now it shows like a cheap product, which is a pity because it is not.

    Cheers, Mark

  24. 24
    Jerry says:

    I always have an issue with people hiding behind pseudonums I’m afraid. It isn’t particularly directed at this site, but sadly the Internet has given a platform for people who normally everyone would ignore in a pub, to spout off a load of tosh, without being prepared to face the music for what they say.

    As I’ve said, if it’s constructive criticism, all well and good, but I have read many things on the Internet that frankly are libellous yet somehow these cowards do it behind a screen of anonymity.

    “one should beware of people tracking you down and giving you a hard time?” Surely that would only happen if you said something libellous? I doubt by merely stating an opinion someone is likely to put a contract out on you!

    Come on guys, what have you to fear if you are passionate about your viewpoints? Stand up and be counted! Do you think it ever concerned Ritchie when he said something that not everyone agreed with? I’m not aware “of people tracking him down and giving him a hard time!”

    All they do these days is post responses on the Internet under pseudonyms! LOL

  25. 25
    purplepriest1965 says:

    Libellous?

    I m in the middle of some kind of renovation here and ]I cant find my dictionairy right now……

    I suppose it means that you say something insulting, crimininal or something?

    About putting out a contract on someone is also something which is lacking yet in my knowledge of the English language.

    Everyone knows that Internet is actually not a very safe place to be.

    I m confronted everyday for years now with the FACT that loads of a certain type of ahem human beings does exist
    They do not need much to act out a desire of criminal behaviour towards people they hardly or not know.

  26. 26
    Rascal says:

    Hiding behind pseudonyms…….

    Is the internet safe enough to give a name and address?

  27. 27
    Jerry says:

    PurplePriest said: “Everyone knows that Internet is actually not a very safe place to be”

    I would have thought that being on the Internet is a damn safer place to be than, for instance, Baghdad or Kabul!

    Perhaps you should ask the UN to protect you on the Internet!

    You gotta laugh!

    But it’s also very sad if you think someone is going to act in a criminal way against you for merely posting comments on a Deep Purple website in your own name!

  28. 28
    purplepriest1965 says:

    When your circle stays unbroken then you re a lucky man!

    RJ Dio

  29. 29
    Jerry says:

    No one has broken my circle! Do you really live in fear? Incredible if you do!

    What is it Coverdale says at the end of his gigs? “Don’t let anyone make you afraid”.

    I would add, “least of all a few weirdos on the Internet!”

  30. 30
    purplepriest1965 says:

    I think I empathise more with the intelligence of someone like Dio than DC…..
    Dio also seems more honest than DC.

    I already implied that I thought that your circle has not been broken by something or someone.
    Then you are a lucky man and probably not completely able to feel that that is not the case for many others.

    Apart from things on a personal level I d like to repeat that it bewilders me that you suggest the Internet is a safe place….

    Btw, I dont recall about talking of FEAR.
    I do not live in FEAR but a certain realism and out of experience made me aware of vulnerabilities and also tells me that not everyone on this planet is here with harmless intentions.

    Enjoyed your last 2 books, though

    Cheers!

  31. 31
    purplepriest1965 says:

    I should rephrase that one.

    Coverdale is very intelligent in his own way.
    I meant that as an intellectual and human being DIO seems more my kinda guy.

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