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Paicey Pro
The Highway Star

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Dave Ruddick
Lars Sträng
Robert Beech
Catrin Wiegand
Joesph Bozzelli

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A German's quest for perfectionism

This is not a deadly serious educational drumming DVD for professional drummers (Mr. Paice himself claims that he couldn't do something like that for a pure lack of qualification), but a piece of work that should show the fun of drumming and give tips for beginners. Therefore it is pretty interesting for non-drummers, too.

As critizing is the easier job for me I'll start with the points that I didn't like about this DVD - but don't worry, there are positive things to be said, too. (Go straight there)

First a warning: if you think that a DVD is a medium that was created to deliver best qualitiy of sound and vision and therefore each DVD should deliver that - keep ears ands eyes away from this one! The main point of interest while producing this thing definetely was the content brought across via language...

Talking about language: this is a product that comes with one soundtrack only (not surprisingly) and no subtitles - but all non-native speakers don't need to worry as even the Australians try to speak very plainly. So you can understand everything clearly, given that there is not too much background noise...

What does that mean? Well, obviously Mr. Paice didn't like the idea of dubbing, so there is a lot of hammering, squeaking and crashing during the tours through the drum manufacturing plant. The interviews, too, were not recorded in a very quiet surrounding... It gets really annoying at two points: first Mr. Paice has assembled the microphone in such an unprofessional manner that during the in-between presentations (recorded in a soundproof studio) and in the tutorial there is a constant rustling (well, you learn to ignore that).

Far more annoying is that one of world's best live sound engineers (long-term Deep Purple engineer Moray McMillan) offers his tips on mic'ing drums (which are probably very nice from a professional's point of view) in an interview recorded on a windy open air stage - while it is being built! Consequently we have hammering, knocking and mobile phones ringing. On top of which the guy turns around a couple of times while talking, which doesn't help if only the camera-mounted microphone is employed...

During the live clips of Deep Purple shows (almost all of them from 1996-2001, the line-up with Steve Morse and Jon Lord) the sound is good, only during one song I thought that it is a little too muffled.

The vision is pretty OK most of the time (there aren't any big disturbances as in the sound) but you realize that this is no big production at all. A lot of the material was - according to the credits at the end - recorded by Ian Paice himself (who, according to a statement from Steve Morse a while ago, always equips himself with the newest film and photo twaddle), other stuff e.g. by Charlie Lewis, DP's production manager.

The quality of the picture of the Abbey Road tracks that Ian recorded exclusively for this DVD is a bit odd. But once you realise this is due to the fact that it was filmed through the controlroom window of the studio, it is more to smile at than really disturbing. During the Roadie View section (live clips from the Deep Purple US tour June/July 2001) the camera is stationary to Ian's right hand side, which means you view Ian and the drumkit from a slightly upwards angle. Behind him Jon Lord's head bobs in and out of view along with Ian Gillan and Steve Morse. Unfortunately, there is natural back light in Oklahoma (like in the commercials for window cleaners: if the sun shines directly through it you see whether it is clean or not) and in Cayuhoga Falls a spot light shines straight into the camera. I don't have the slightest idea why this material was chosen... [It may have been because of what Ian is playing! Incredulous Rasmus]

A few more negative remarks about the packaging: Instead of a booklets we get an inlay, which at least offers no unwelcome advertising for other products. The biographical text about our leading man and his main occupation is comparatively well done (I've seen lot worse stuff) - but one quote stands out: "I suppose Jethro Tull and Yes are still going, but we've got most of our original members." Err?!? [Yes, but the DVD was filmed and produced while DP still consisted of four fifths of the original Mark 2 line-up. Rasmus]

Two typos of the "ouch!" kind can be found while watching the DVD: one of the band's most famous songs was put back into medieval times ("Black Knight" anyone?!). This is more amusing than annoying, but whoever managed to misname the late Tony Ashton as "Tony Ashfon"? This is not funny.

What I like about the DVD:

Lets move chronologically, even though at first I just clicked at what seemed to be most interesting to me. The Abbey Road Session of Paicesetter, the Retro Vision and the roadie view of Fools are still my favourites.

After the introduction the DVD starts with the drummers guide. In the sub menu they tell you that this is a 50-minute documentary that you can either watch completely or jump to the tutorial right away. We are greeted by Mr. Paice in the studio (from where he does all the in-between presentations and the tutorial). This features a couple of seconds of Deep Purple's gig in Montreux 2000 when Morse played with his wrist in plaster. Apart from that I don't see anything spectacular here.

Then the big tour starts: Visiting Pearl drums in Tokyo, Paiste cymbals in Switzerland, Remo drum heads in the USA (in contrast to Pearl a giant factory as our presenter points out) and Pro-Mark sticks in Houston, Texas. And then the drum kit consisting of all the pieces Mr. Paice prefers is ready. As a reward we get a complete drum solo filmed on Deep Purple's US tour in 1985. (DP fans might smile at recognizing Ian Gillan in black leather with short hair just about to grow again).

Now we move into the tutorial (if watching in full length mode you don't see any cut but this is were you get if you chose to skip to the tutorial). We get small bits of tips, tricks and trivia (what is the ideal size of a drum kit for me, how to set it up, which kind of pedals are the best, etc.). I couldn't resist laughing when I realized that Ian obviously doesn't count in Dollars or Pounds but in gold: "It is worth its weight in gold" becomes praise number one. These tips are interrupted by short DP onstage sequences, sticking out are first the full length drum solo filmed in Sydney, Australia, 1984 (nice hat, Ian), and the beginning of You Fool No One (from California Jam 1974) during which you hardly see Paicey at all. You do see Ritchie Blackmore and David Coverdale and this is the only point of the DVD where you get a hint that Deep Purple had other line-ups than the classic Mark 2 and Mark 7. We've gone past the excerpt with the hardly audible Moray McMillan and the 'medieval horseman' by now, too.

The Abbey Road Sessions: Two songs specially recorded for this DVD. Ian Paice in the studio with bassist Colin 'The Bomber' Hodgkinson and guitarist Miller Anderson. The first song is called Paicesetter (attention: neologism!), and was written by Colin. It was also aired in December 2001 during the Paice & York tour of Germany. It lasts 2.35 minutes and you can watch it in three different versions: Studio Cam (the camera films through the control room window and flies over head and shows all three musicians in turns), Roadie View (viewing Ian Paice only, no camera movements or cuts) and finally Retro Vision (a kind of video-clip montage consisting of Ian Paice footage from 1969-2001 on- and offstage). The second song is called Dustbins, was written by all three musicians, and lasts 7.55. This can only be viewed in Studio Cam or Roadie View. I wonder why these songs weren't chosen to explain or show some techniques...

In the next section of the DVD - Roadie View - you chose between individual tracks and continuous play: First we have four full length songs (Ted The Mechanic, Lazy, Knocking At Your Back Door and Highway Star). After this it starts to get strange. The announced Monitor Problems footage consist of a head that bobs into view and Paicey pointing to his ears and making gestures to the head (I am pretty sure 'the head' is DP monitor engineer Rob Hodgkinson but this is not mentioned on the DVD). The track lasts about five seconds and would probably still have been pointless if the conversation had been audible...

I am really happy about the choice of Fools - even if I would rather have had the whole song. The DVD features only the slow middle section until the second line of vocals again. Nice to see and hear Jon doing it. This song IMHO is one of the best Deep Purple ever did - and definetely should have been played live far more often. More strange stuff is the intro to Pictures Of Home - all of five seconds of Ian's drum intro... After that the drum solo from Speed King and another strange inclusion: the dropped drumstick. Good thing that this is named "Dropped Drumstick" as you can hardly make it out as Paicey gets the replacement stick from somewhere left of him extremely fast. [Hang on, this is a drummer's DVD, and including this clip just goes to show that Paicey is human after all! Rasmus]

The Drum Clinic is a tv-style report about a few clinics Ian Paice and Steve Morse did in 2001 in Australia. Decorated with video snippets from Britney Spears, a young lady unknown to me and N’Sync... What's that?!? I guess Britney belongs to the same management family... [Or she's there to illustrate the things Ian doesn't like in current music? Rasmus]

Steve Morse declares that every morning while having breakfast he is conscious that he can only buy food because people pay money to come to his shows... A few more or less funny comments from people who attended this clinic - but hardly any information about the clinic itself. Well, us Germans basically know how they work since December 2001...

The Australian Interview section is obviously taken from a tv show. Ian tell us his opinions about his nowadays life and nowadays music business. For beginners (for whom this DVD is meant to be) this should be nice, but I guess I saw/read too many interviews with him before to find anything of special interest. Apart from the almost philosophical wisdom "Nothing is original, everything comes from somewhere."

In the Photographic Gallery you can chose between a manual slide show (so you have to press 'next' for each picture) or autorun to enjoy the eight (8!) photos. (I guess I should have put this into the first part of my review...)

The Biography consists of four pages of comparatively interesting text about Ian's beginnings until he got to the band that should become Deep Purple at the age of 19, two pages about 1968-2001 and a seventh page that informs us about Ian's current place of residence and the names of his wife and children...

The end Credits are somehow more interesting than the title suggests. We get a couple of more pics, then again the ones from the introduction, where Ian thanks all those peeople who directly or indirectly helped him doing this DVD in pretty nice terms.

The initial edition of the DVD comes with a bonus CD containing of three mixes of Dustbins and four mixes of PaiceSetter (yep, here spelt with capital S) - total length 28 minutes. As a drummer with a very good stereo you might value that - I'm just happy to own another exotic bit from the DP family releases.

Conclusion: There is no conclusion... Every Deep Purple fan that has 20 Euro or more to spend can definitely do much worse than spending it on this one... But he who cares for technical perfection in sound and vision for the sake of his nerves should not buy it - this is not a high tech product at all.

Catrin Wiegand


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