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30 : best of
The Highway Star

Doug MacBeath
Andreas Thul
Nigel Young




Deep Purple 30: very best of - a review of the 2CD edition

After 30 years, Deep Purple's back catalogue has been crying out for a concise 'Best Of' covering all versions of the band. Unfortunetly, with the release of this compilation, it still is crying out.

It hard to see exactly who the target audience is. If you take away the 5 tracks from 1984-98, you're left with 23 tracks (on the 2CD edition). Over 2/3 of these already appear on Anthology, albeit not in their remixed or remastered state, but said 2CD set sells for a lot less than this compilation does. In fact, you could probably buy Anthology, and still have enough left over to get one of the recent Polydor or BMG compilations.

The choice of tracks is pretty much as could be expected, and there is a strong bias to the 70s Mk2 material. There are six MK I tracks, 13 MK II, 3 MKIII, 1 Mk IV, 2 Mk IIb, 1 MK V and 2 MK VII.

I feel that material such as Emmaretta, The Bird has Flown and Hallelujah could all have been safely left off in order to give MK 3, 4 or the re-union stuff a bigger share of the discs.

The packaging leaves a lot to be desired as well. The slimline jewel case comes in a flimsy card slipcase, the cover of which is the same as the jewel case anyway. The only image is a sphere floating in water against a deep purple background.

The CD booklet is also deep purple in colour, and the top half of each of its 18 pages is left blank - no images, nothing. Three columns of text in the lower half of each page gives a brief history of the band. Brief as in 12 1/2 pages for 68-76, and 2 1/2 pages for 77-98. Some sections of the text (written by Hugh Gilmour) are lifted straight from other (better) articles written by Simon R. Other sections are just badly edited - "Simper suggested Javelins singer Ian Gillan as contender for the microphone, but he was reluctant to leave his band Episode Six" - how could Ian be the singer of one band if he was with another? ;-)

If the booklet had actualy been filled with text (a few piccies wouldn't have gone amiss either), a decent stab at the last 14 years could also be attempted, but as it is, the space given to these years is so small, you get the feeling that they shouldn't even have bothered.

So can I say anything good about this release...?

Well, yes. It's nice to hear the 30th Anniversary remasters of the MK I stuff, and my appitite has been whetted for the albums' release next year.

Also, when you sit down and hear Stormbringer, You Keep On Moving, Perfect Strangers, Knocking at your Back Door, King of Dreams, Ted the Mechanic and Any Fule Kno That back to back to realise that yes, they ARE all Deep Purple.

You may not like the line-ups or the material, but there is something in the sound that links all the tracks. Maybe, just maybe, I should go and give S&M another try...hehe.

Doug MacBeath

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