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Live Encounters
The Highway Star

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As far as the package goes it's a big disappointment, but remember who manages them... The best photographer among managers, the best manager among photographers. Bruce Payne.
Not one single picture from the 1996-97 era, instead all of them feature the late Lord period and even Don Airey is pictured. Less dedicated fans may wonder why Gillan sports long hair on the video, while on cover he has only short hair...
During the development stage of the whole project, the Polish Fan Club offered their help to Bruce Payne in the shape of excellent pictures of the very show (royalty free of course), but no! Who needs photos from the concert to illustrate the packaging of the footage of this concert? They should employ a good PR and image manager - or perhaps they already have one (imagine who?).
All in all, my rating of this release goes like this:
- package and picture selection: 2/10
- setlist (i.e. elimination of No One Came): 0/10
- mastering and mix: 5/10 (very slight, if any, improvement to the TV broadcast)
- title: 1/10 (well, maybe I shouldn't complain, after all they could title it "Live in Katowice")
- interviews 9/10 - probably due to making them by fans, who know what to ask about...
- extras 1/10 - the same, well known and already worn pictures made by Bruce (and only Bruce - "don't ask me, I'm only the photographer")
Perhaps I am too cruel... But just take a look at Queen's DVD release from their Wembley concert and you'll know what I mean...

I placed an order for the vinyl edition of Live Encounters (via the Amazon UK link), because I expected it to be an EMI release and therefore a Copy Controlled CD. I also expected this live album to be a recording off the most recent tour. I was mistaken; it has a concert from 1996 and is released on a Polish label.
The vinyl edition, which arrived today, is strictly limited to 2000 copies, so it's even collectible. That's just as well because the recording itself isn't very good.
1996 was a great year for Deep Purple, one in which they released their best studio album in two decades and sounded like a hungry young band again, but you can't tell that from this poorly-recorded concert in which singer Ian Gillan strains constantly.
There are better live albums from the same year available - in fact it's one of the better-covered periods in the band's existance. The record has some exciting instrumental work, but is otherwise missable.
Reinder Dijkhuis


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