'The Vinyl Collection 72-87' 7 LP boxset
Release Date: 29th January 2016
Deep Purple is a name synonymous with classic British hard rock. With hits and radio classics like 'Child In Time', 'Smoke On The Water' and 'Perfect Strangers', Deep Purple are widely considered one of the best and most influential hard rock bands alongside Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath.
There have been numerous (ok, a plethora) of compilations and reissues, and this 7LP set encompasses 7 LPs from the latter part of the 70s and the first 2 reunion LPs.
All good stuff. Really. But. Yes there's a BIG But. There are two of the Mark II LPs, where are the other 2? Or Made In Japan? I'm guessing the answer is in the catalogue, and the split of the licence with the break-up of EMI, the band's parent label.
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Formed in the late 60s by keyboard player Jon Lord and guitarist Ritchie Blackmore, they had a hit with a cover of Joe South's 'Hush' before vocalist Ian Gillan joined in 1969. The classic line-up of Gillan, Blackmore, Lord, drummer Ian Paice and bassist Roger Glover first occurred between 1970 and 1973, kicking off with the classic 'In Rock', 'Fireball' and 'Machine Head' LPs, culminating in 'Made In Japan', probably the best double live hard rock album. Ever.
Hits included the ever present 'Smoke On The Water', and a series of classic albums followed, although those fronted by David Coverdale and Glenn Hughes did become more soulful. The band split in the mid 70s and the classic line-up reformed in 1984.
The set here starts off with 1972's Machine Head, the classic Mark II's 3rd album, famously recorded in Switzerland, Lake Geneva, the site of the Frank Zappa concert where the casino burnt down.
The album opens with 'Highway Star', a firm favourite and concert opener, the album kicks off in blistering fashion and sees the five piece at both their creative and blistering peak. From 'Maybe I'm A Leo', 'Pictures Of Home' and 'Never Before', there is not one bad moment.
Gillan's screams and the solid rhythms, and the Deep Purple sound defining keyboard/guitar interplay is simply hard rock perfection. 'Smoke On The Water' is one you all (should) know, 'Lazy', with its long keyboard intro, is a catchy rocker, and 'Space Truckin'' is just wonderful, although 4 minutes 30 seconds is too short if you're more acquainted with the 20 minute Made In Japan workout.
Bypassing the aforementioned live set, 'Who Do We Think We Are' follows suit, and although it doesn't feature so many "name" tracks, it is quite underrated. Opener 'Woman From Tokyo' is as memorable as ever. It was also a bluesier album, and 'Place In Line' a nod to Elvis Presley's bluesier side, Presley being a big influence on Gillan).
'Rat Boy Blue' showcases Gillan's skills, some excellent moments, but large parts of the album seem to be going through the motions, certainly compared to earlier releases.
With internal conflicts and management pressures nearly splitting the band, Gillan and Glover left, to be replaced by David Coverdale and Glenn Hughes respectively.
1974's 'Burn' was a change of direction, and beyond the title track (itself a Metal template) it was more soul and funk oriented. 'You Fool No One' is a case in point. The slower bluesier 'Mistreated' has long been in David Coverdale's Whitesnake's live set, as a solo spotlight.
Released at the tail end of the same year, 'Stormbringer' took the soul funk a stage further and despite the strength of the tracks (the title track, 'Lady Double Dealer', 'Soldier Of Fortune'), it's almost unrecognisable from Machine Head. The band's refusal to cover Quatermass' 'Black Sheep Of The Family' led Blackmore to go solo.
Recruiting guitarist Tommy Bolin for 1975's 'Come Taste The Band', the album was good in its own right, and received some positive reviews, but by Purple's standards a disaster. 'Lady Luck' and 'You Keep On Moving' always stand out, but no disaster could be as bad as the Japan tour to come, and the band split soon after.
The intermediate 8 years saw Bolin's death and success of Rainbow, Gillan, Whitesnake and other related projects, and 1984 saw a Mark II reunion. Gillan, Glover, Blackmore, Lord and Paice in the room together and the original magic made a serious comeback on 'Perfect Strangers'.
Signing to Polydor, it was a good time for Purple with solid production, modern sound and songs as good as ever.
'Knocking At Your Back Door' and the title track sees Lord's organ sounding as great as ever and the interplay with Blackmore back on track. 'Nobody's Home' and 'A Gypsy's Kiss' also stand out.
1987's 'House Of The Blue Light' tried to follow suit, but the effort comes through on the vibe; the internal conflict between Gillan and Blackmore resurrecting. The opening tracks 'Bad Attitude', 'Unwritten Law' and 'Call Of The Wild' are genuinely great tracks though and I've always loved 'Mitzi Dupree'.
The music – ROCKS. There's nothing better on Earth than Purple at their best, the packing and vinyl sound is fantastic. In that respect it is a very proper job.
But it is the choice of albums in this collection is the big point. A BIG Point.
Licencing issues aside, the mix of line-ups, the mix of eras, the use of 'Machine Head' and 'Who Do We Think We Are' without 'In Rock', Fireball or Made In Japan is quite simply crazy - detracting to say the very least.
While it is a good opportunity to experience some of the lesser known albums on their original format, some do not sit so well next to others and lessens the selling point.
Who Do We Think We Are
Come Taste The Band
House Of The Blue Light