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This Time Around
The Highway Star

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David Delaney
Phil Evans
Jim Collins
Gord Jantzen
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Chris Henrici

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Mark 4
Japan tour report
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Liverpool 1976

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There's better Purple to be had than this

By Phil Evans

There have been a few of releases of DP Mark 4 material over the years. "This Time Around" is the latest in this series. Originally recorded at a Tokyo concert in late 1975 for a Japanese TV Broadcast. Some of the material was originally released on vinyl as "Last Concert In Japan". That release was marred by some peculiar editing, a poor mix and overall substandard sound. "This Time Around" aims to correct all that. This CD has been remixed and digitally mastered from the original source recordings and appears to include the entire concert.

A bit of background for readers who are unfamiliar with the details of DP Mark 3's Japanese Tour. After completing a couple warm dates in Australia DP headed to Japan to continue their tour. Apparently unknown to DP, new guitarist Tommy Bolin had a serious problem with heroin. On the night before their first Japanese show he had a bad fix, that, among other things, crippled his left arm. For the first show, he was almost incapable of playing guitar. DP being DP would have to have a better reason than that for cancelling and soldiered on with the gig. On this first night, Bolin was reduced to playing riffs on an opened tuned guitar, while keyboardist Jon Lord played all the difficult material and leads. Over the remaining nights of the Japanese tour, Bolin's arm improved. This CD was recorded on the fourth night in Tokyo.

OK, what about the CD? The sound quality is fine - a considerable improvement over "Last Concert In Japan". The performance? Well... The decision to include literally everything was bad. Singer David Coverdale's introductions are tedious, repetitive and long winded and a little editting in that area would have done a world of good. Keep your CD remote handy!

As far as the actual music goes - its a mixed bag. The Mark 4 originals are consistently high quality. Where things suffer, is when the band attempts earlier material. In particular, Bolin really doesn't do justice to the songs from "Machine Head". I think its a combination of number of things: Bolin's guitar sound - far too fuzzy, his more freewheeling/less rehearsed style, and probably that bad arm. But when he gets right down to it, on this disc he really can't cut it when he attempts Blackmore's material. His leads on "Burn", "Smoke On The Water" and "Highway Star" are uninspired. On "Lazy" it's verging on sloppy. His solo spot consists of five-minute blasts of echoplex and it's very tiresome. Compare it to Blackmore's jaw dropping solo spot on the Cal Jam "You Fool No One" - there is no comparison.

Glen Hughes also gets a special mention for his wretched rendition of the "Georgia On My Mind" coda at the end of "Smoke On The Water". One of the worst!

This disc does have a number of very redeeming features. Jon Lord, well aware of Bolin's struggles, steps up with a fabulous performance throughout. His solo on "You Keep On Moving" is fantastic.

Also notable (in a good way), is the extended jam in "Gettin' Tighter", where the band (except the sidelined Coverdale) really click. Another highlight is "I Need Love", where, on his own material, Bolin gets in some really tasteful playing.

On average the CD is a mediocre offering, but there's a large standard deviation: the high points are high and the low points are low!

Compared to the very similar 1976 live DP Mark 4 recording "King Biscuit Flower Hour Presents" (aka "Foxbat") it's a toss up. There is more material on this release, but ther 1976 show is more consistent. Bolin's playing is better and the band is better rehearsed.

If you're looking for a good DP Mark 4 disc, something beyond their original "Come Taste The Band", I'd recommend "Days May Come Days Days May Go", a disc culled from tapes of Mark 4's original rehearsals. It Smokes!

To conclude, "This Time Around" has its moments, and occasionally makes me wonder what would have happened if the band had got its collective act together. The fanatics out there will buy it anyway, to others I suggest to give it a miss. There's better DP to be had for your hard earned cash.


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