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