On April 6, 1974, Deep Purple co-headlined the massive California Jam Festival at the Ontario Speedway in California in front of a crowd of about 200,000. The festival also featured the eclectic lineup of Emerson, Lake, and Palmer (co-headliners), Black Sabbath, Seals & Crofts, Black Oak Arkansas, the Eagles, Rare Earth, and Earth Wind & Fire. Much of the event was broadcast live on ABC television, and the majority of this DVD transfer comes from those ancient tapes.
By 1974, Deep Purple had undergone a second significant lineup change. Losing frontman Ian Gillan and bassist Roger Glover, and gaining a then unknown David Coverdale on lead vocals, along with Trapeze veteran Glenn Hughes on bass and vocals. The first album from this new "MKIII" lineup would be called Burn, and the California Jam performance would literally throw these two rookies to the fire.
Coverdale seemed a little overwhelmed at first to be performing in front of 200,000 people, and appeared to have indulged in a few pre-show cocktails to calm his nerves - I would have too! He must have asked where the sunset was about five times during the show, which was a little bizarre. He did recover nicely though, and his impassioned performance showed why he is still going strong today. Only 23 years old at the time, he sang his Robert Plant-cloned ass off and gave Deep Purple fans hope for the future of the band.
Glenn Hughes was already a veteran of the British rock scene, having recorded three albums and toured extensively with the English hard rock band Trapeze. Hughes brought his funky bass playing, charismatic stage presence, and a second powerful set of pipes to the mix. Most of the songs from Burn have Coverdale and Hughes sharing the lead vocals, with Hughes called upon frequently for his patented falsetto screams. I thought that they worked great together, but unfortunately this pairing would only produce two more studio albums over the next two years, Stormbringer and Come Taste The Band.
As we all know, Coverdale went on to form Whitesnake in 1978 and by the mid 80's they were international superstars. I was surprised at how good the latest incarnation of the band was on this year's Live In The Still Of The Night concert DVD. Hughes went on to have a pretty respectable solo career, teaming up with such rock luminaries as Pat Thrall, Joe Lyn Turner, and Tony Iommi. Hughes has done some of the best work of his entire career over the last few years, highlighted by his excellent solo album Soul Mover, along with his second collaboration with Iommi, titled Fused. These are two of my favorite rock albums of the decade so far.