On April 3, 1975 the Mk III line-up of Purple - guitarist Ritchie Blackmore, frontman David Coverdale, bassist/vocalist Glenn Hughes, keyboard player Jon Lord and drummer Ian Paice - played a concert at the Liebenauer ice rink, located on the outskirts of mountain-cradled Graz, Austria's second largest city after Vienna.
Enthused by Purple's arrival in town, the local press dubbed the concert "das Rockereignis des Jahres [the rock event of the year]".
And it was - in more ways than one. Previously unreleased in its entirety, 'Graz 1975' - the fourth part of earMUSIC's successful reissues series - will be released on September 15th, 2014 on earMUSIC.
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After Graz, Purple would play just two more shows - in Saarbrücken, Germany and Paris, France - before Blackmore left to form his new band, Rainbow.
The remaining Purple members would regroup quickly with American guitarist Tommy Bolin in tow, in place of Blackmore. But that's another story...
In order to preserve Blackmore's final run of Mk III concerts for posterity, Purple's managers had brought the Rolling Stones mobile recording studio over to mainland Europe. And what a show it was! Graz 1975 is absolutely electrifying and exhilarating.
Indeed, it has long been regarded as the holy grail of concert recordings among Mk III connoisseurs. A performance that has never been available in its entirety until now.
1. Burn / 2. Stormbringer / 3. The Gypsy / 4. Lady Double Dealer / 5. Mistreated / 6. Smoke On The Water / 7. You Fool No One / 8. Space Truckin'
As soon as the opening track 'Burn'(surely the best version of this song, ever) starts you know you're in for a wild ride. And so it proves. Blackmore plays with controlled brutality - if he's pissed off, it doesn't show; if he's angry, it most certainly does.
The vocal interplay between Coverdale and Hughes has never sounded so good. And, of course, stalwarts Lord and Paice give it a good kicking - and then some. The tracklisting, naturally, is weighted heavily in favour of Mk III recordings, with just two songs from Purple's previous incarnation with Ian Gillan on vocals and Roger Glover on bass: the iconic "Smoke On The Water" and the almost-as-iconic "Space Truckin'".
Graz 1975 showcases Purple Mk III at the absolute top - and also, ironically, at the end - of their game.
After almost 40 years the concert still captivates people. It is the perfect example that for Purple there is no need for extravagant video projections or expensive fire shows to play a unique and fascinating gig. All they need is the music.
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