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This Time Around
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Talent pissed out of their heads

By Michael Eriksson

Let's get the history right first of all. This was not recorded for official release at the time, it was filmed by a crew for reasons we still don´t know much about. However, the fact that Led Zeppelin were knee deep in getting the movie project "The Song Remains The Same" out may well have had something to do with it. Or maybe they just felt that with this band being new they needed to promote it and the safest bet really is that somebody was planning to put a documentary together. Ofcourse, with a rapidly worsening scenario unraveling, this idea may well have been simply abandoned. Certainly everybody in the band must have said "forget it, we can´t use that film". I know for a fact that the release of this as "Last Concert In Japan" could only happen because the then remaining four ex-members had no say in the matter. In fact, it was probably a nasty surprise to them all. I know this from a conversation with Lord concerning the records that came out after Purples split that we had back in 1981. "Last Concert In Japan" was probably a major reason behind David Coverdale taking such a stand against any sort of release that he has not endorsed. He calls it "Dirty money".

Still, listening to the now complete concert the first issue at hand should be on the matter how somebody could fuck it up so badly on the first release? Here we have a brilliant version of "Getting Tighter", this could have been used back in 1977 instead of the dreadful "Smoke On The Water" on "Last Concert In Japan". Hell, an edited down version, cut after Jon Lords brilliant solo, is good enough to be released on any compilation album that deals with the history of this band. Also, "Drifter" is pretty good and should have been on the original, especially since they dedicated the 1977 release to Tommy Bolin back then. Lets face it, the original release was an idea at the record company in Japan and they are the ones that fucked up so badly that they almost managed to ruin the reputation of this lineup for all time.

The album highlights many things, the one in particular being that Deep Purple can be both the greatest band in the world, but also quite pathetic, with minutes only dividing the two extremes. On "This Time Around" we have fine versions of Coverdale/Hughes era stuff right alongside rather awful versions of MK 2 stuff. "Lazy" is rather painful on this album, they seem to hardly know how to deal with it. My guess is that it was under rehearsed and that they really didn´t care much for it. Maybe they even saw it as an excuse to launch a couple of solos? "Smoke On The Water" is weak to say the least and it´s interesting that we have such a great version of this lineup doing it in California two months later on the "Foxbat" album.

I think that Tommy Bolin was a great guitarist but on this album we can only hear a minimum of what he could do if he was in shape and had a good day. Flashes of brilliance is evident, but not enough to really entertain on any higher level. But I feel that on this night that could have been said about all of them, except for Ian Paice.

The truth is they were just pissed out of their heads when they did this show. Glenn Hughes and David Coverdale have admitted as much and that explains a lot.

What bugs me is that some fans still refuses to acknowledge the fact that there was an awful lot of talent in this version of the band. This is simply not true. "Come Taste The Band" proves it, "Foxbat" proves it, but most of all, the "Days May Come..." album with the 1975 rehearsals really establishes it bigtime. I´ve yet to hear any other lineup of Deep Purple jam like that in the studio. Glimpses of this greatness are evident on this release, but only in small snippets.

I think all versions of Deep Purple have suffered at times. MK 2 did a lot of crap shows in the early years but since "Made In Japan" was recorded on a night that was incredibly good, that will never be acknowledged in history. With Ritchie it was either good nights or bad, it really went up and down quite a lot. But this was an appealing quality as well, since the good nights were so incredible. Most of the shows between 1984 and 1988 were pretty awful in hindsight and Ritchie admitted to me last year when I did an interview that we can hear how he feels if we listen to what he is playing, and he just had a low period in his life around the time of the actual reuinion, his spirit on a low until he met Candice Night. Suddenly, in the 90´s, he started to sound like he cared again. So if MK 2 failed initially, they had a great supernova in 1993 at the very least.

MK 4 was supreme to anything the band did in the 80´s on stage, lets give them that much credit at least. I think it´s rather obvious that even this release beats the crap out of "Nobody´s Perfect". So lets be honest here folks! The unsettling truth for many would probably be to have to accept that only one version of Deep Purple seldom fails to deliver, and that version has Steve Morse on guitar. They are the real professionals, although they will never be able to beat the superstar era of this band simply because this band ruled then and they damn well knew it.

Deep Purple pretty much had a license to print money and they blew it, mostly because they were all miserable within the formula(certainly at this time). We talk about music but it is always the goings on within a band that decides how good they are going to sound. On this night, they got drunk and laughed at the legend. They did not do their job properly. But they were good enough to be brilliant for brief moments even under these circumstances. Tellingly though, mostly during the songs that they had themselves just released on "Come Taste The Band". Still, I know that I will listen to this album every now and then and I´ll like some of it a lot. I like the formula, and even on a bad night that worked pretty well for them.

I love MK 4 but I have a hard time explaining this to myself since they cared so very little about the bands future themselves. That was the one major flaw that they had. Bolin was always under the microscope but how much did Lord deliver? Just about what an alcoholic in the making could I would say. It was quite a scandal how it all ended and we still don´t know half the story.


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