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Music DVD Reviews: Review of Deep Purple Live in California 74
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Deep Purple: Live in California 74 (2006)

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The Deep Purple Mach III Lineup of David Coverdale on vocals, Glenn Hughes on bass/vocals, Ian Paice on drums, Jon Lord on keyboards (and an incredibly mean Hammond organ) and Richie Blackmore on guitar and other assorted mayhem, is the most talented line-up Deep Purple featured. Purists will argue for the Ian Gillan-led Mach II line-up might be the commercial and artistic apex of the band (which produced 1972’s Machinehead), but Coverdale has better range and the added vocal power of Hughes and his funk influenced bass playing trumps any other line-up. The DVD release of the Mach III’s performance at the 1974 California Jam is a must for Deep Purple fans and is an excellent document of a talented group of musicians showing their chops at one of the festivals of the day. Black Sabbath, Seals and Crofts (yep, Seals and Crofts), Black Oak Arkansas, the Eagles, Rare Earth and Earth Wind and Fire warmed up the crowd for co-headliners Deep Purple, who would play before Emerson, Lake and Palmer, all in a single day. This DVD is only the Deep Purple portion of the show, but I would love to see the other stuff, even the Seals and Crofts set.

The first four tracks, all taken from the band’s then-new album Burn, are ferocious examples of the band’s power, musicianship and range, with the blues based “Mistreated” worth the price of the DVD alone. Coverdale, 23 years old and several years away from Whitesnake, melts the microphone and proves what power and phrasing he possesses by wailing away and stealing a thing or two from Robert Plant. Blackmore, on this song, more than earns his reputation as an elite guitarist. He never overplays during the entire concert, and his shredding appears effortless while remaining breathtaking.

The extras are well packaged, as the commentary track provides insight to us geeks who love the history behind bands including history of songs, tensions and personnel changes. That behind-the-scenes narration is also included as the text for the four page booklet included. Those of you that like a song on the radio and could care less who sings it are not going to enjoy this end of the product, but then again, I don’t think this is marketed with you in mind.

The set loses a little steam as long versions of “You Fool No One” and “Space Truckin’” feature pompous, unintentionally Spinal Tap-ish solos from Lord and Paice. Paice proves himself to be an excellent drummer through the challenging nature of the material, so the solo is completely excessive but par for the course at the time. The conclusion of “Space Truckin’” is bizarre and fascinating, as Blackmore destroys a television camera, three guitars and blows up a column of his amplifiers. The narration provides insight into the motivation behind these actions and the ramifications of his behavior, including a potential lawsuit from a stagehand and bitterness from the promoters.

This is a very talented band and an interesting document to their live show. There are no real exciting or experimental camera angles but a rather straight ahead recording of one heck of a band during an exciting time in their history. California Jam had between 165,000 and 200,000 thousand people in attendance. Deep Purple’s set is a very cool one and worth a viewing.

~R. David Smola



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