Friday 8 May 2015

Deep Purple - Live in Long Beach 1971 - Remastered (Album Review)

Album Type: Full-Length
Date Released: 26/5/2015
Label: earMUSIC

‘Long Beach 1971’ track listing

1). Speed King
2). Strange Kind Of Woman
3). Child In Time
4). Mandrake Root

Deep Purple were:

Ian Gillan
Roger Glover
Jon Lord
Ian Paice
Richie Blackmore


Deep Purple are ingrained in my musical DNA. When I was getting into music and exploring the past greats of the metal world, there were three bands who were always mentioned in reverential tones: Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple. Nowadays, only one of those is considered to be heavy metal and Zeppelin have become revered by the very people that most probably hated them when they were around. Odd, but there we are. As Deep Purple are now considered “not metal,” but perhaps “hard rock” instead and not as cool as Led Zep, they occupy a rather overlooked space.

If I could draw a parallel, I would draw one with The Stranglers- for me, the best of the UK “punk” era, but not really a punk band and practically written out of all official punk histories for being... who knows? Too dangerous? Too dark? Too good at their instruments? The Stranglers were excellent players, really did indulge in the darker things in life (hard drugs, fighting etc) and were variously imprisoned/villified/decried as unfashionable.

Deep Purple, while never persecuted by “the establishment” and without a public appetite for heroin or beating up journalists, seem to have been sidelined over time. Regardless of their lack of presence in the modern consciousness, they were a first rate band of the 70's. Let's get it straight: Ian Paice could go up against ANY drummer from the era and emerge victorious or at least with the credit he deserves. Roger Glover was (and most likely is) a fine bassist who turned his hand to production with skill, Ian Gillan had a phenomenal range with real power and soul to his voice. Jon Lord was immensely musical and possessed an ear/ability for melody and soloing. Finally, Ritchie Blackmore was a mercurial figure; the man in black, his playing a thing of Faustian proportion. To hear this four track live record from that particular line-up is a thing of joy.

So, 1971, Deep Purple played long (very long) versions of songs that were not particularly long in their original form. “Speed King” opens and includes, of course, a lengthy mid song jam with vocal and guitar sparring etc. The band can play heavy, it can play light and improvise too. They operate in a far more musical space than Sabbath and are perhaps more “muso” than Zeppelin- but possessing similar ingredients. Things continue in the same vein with “Strange Kind of Woman”- or the refrain of SKOW that then pursues a lengthy jazz style jam- complete with scat singing from Gillan... sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't, but at least you get to hear a band playing live and spreading their wings.

‘Child In Time’ is of course a show stopper- familiar organ intro gives way to an arrangement that is long and spacey with ear splitting vocal acrobatics from Gillan and guitar pyrotechnics from Blackmore. Gillan's voice is superb; listening to this made me think of how much Bruce Dickinson had been influenced by him. Indeed, even the song intros made me think of Dickinson at times (albeit they are not as ludicrous as those found on Live After Death, although the same locale makes for an eerie echo!). The sound is surprisingly good, too- it is of the time, of course, but the dynamics shine through and the mix is good allowing all the instruments to be heard.

The album finishes with ‘Mandrake Root’, from an earlier Purple era and thus not familiar to me. It's groovy and heavy in places and sounds exactly like a jamming and bitching tune from 1968. How interested you will be in this release depends largely on how interested you are in long free form jams and rock of a 70's vintage. If you like modern doom, classic doom, sludge or prog rock or what have you, you will find something to enjoy here. There is a clear link between bands like Deep Purple and the modern era; they blazed a trail and pushed the boundaries of heaviness, volume and what a rock band could do. They were by turns fascinating, slothful, energetic and relentlessly dynamic. They wrote some classic albums (In Rock, Fireball, Machine Head, Burn et al) and played some damn fine music (hear this one or Made in Japan). It's about time that they got more credit- maybe those people listening to second rate modern stoner or retro bands will hear this and repent? I hope so. Incredible stuff.

Words by: Richard Maw

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