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Deep Purple

(Eagle; US: 24 Apr 2012; UK: Import)

A puzzling live document with some admittedly great guitar playing

It’s tough to know who the audience is for this album. Hardcore Deep Purple fanatics will have picked it up already in its original two-disc format (released overseas in 2004) or as part of the 2008 Around the World Live boxset. Casual listeners will probably stick to the band’s classic 1970s albums: Machine Head, In Rock, Burn, and the definitive live document Made in Japan. Nonetheless, there are some worthy nuggets in here, thanks mainly to guitar vistuoso Steve Morse, formerly the driving force behind The Dixie Dregs (later The Dregs) and one of the most underrated guitarists knocking around these days. Then again, that’s what being a journeyman guitarist in a classic-rock arena nostalgia act will do for you.


Whatever. Morse is great, singer Ian Gillan sounds raspy and tired on “Highway Star” and “Smoke on the Water” but pretty good elsewhere, and the rest of the band keeps up. For a bunch of guys like Deep Purple, who have been knocking around for over 40 years now, it’s hardly a challenge to make good on a groove-delivery system like “Strange Kind of Woman” or “Woman From Tokyo”. The newer tunes are less interesting, although album opener “Ted the Mechanic” (from 1996’s Purpendicular, if that counts as “newer”) features more tasty licks from Morse. Overall, then, a set which is a bit better than expected to this classic rock fan, but certainly nothing that’s going to replace the band’s classic ouevre anytime soon. Anyway, if you’re going to get it, why not plump for the two-disc set that has Morse’s epic guitar solo and a fourteen-minute rendition of “Speed King” among much else?

Rating:

DAVID MAINE is a novelist and essayist. His books include The Preservationist (2004), Fallen (2005), The Book of Samson (2006), Monster, 1959 (2008) and An Age of Madness (2012). He has contributed to The Washington Post, Publishers Weekly, Esquire.com and NPR.com, among other outlets. He is a lifelong music obsessive whose interests range from rock to folk to hip-hop to international to blues. He currently lives in western Massachusetts, where he works in human services. Catch up with his blog, The Party Never Stops, at davidmaine.blogspot.com, or become his buddy on Facebook (or Twitter or Google+ or whatever you prefer) to keep up with reviews and other developments.


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Deep Purple - Smoke on the Water Total Abandon '99
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