Written by General Jabbo
Few bands have managed to have as much success with as many lineups as Deep Purple. From the frilly shirts and swinging ‘60s vibe of the MK I lineup to the proto-metal MK II version to the more soulful MK III and IV lineups, Deep Purple has always been an exciting and interesting band, especially live. The band’s essential first period from 1968-1976 is covered on the two-DVD set, Deep Purple – History, Hits & Highlights ’68-’76.
Disc one opens with a short documentary of the band, showing highlights from 1968-1976 before going into a rare promo video of MK I’s cover of the Beatles “Help!” A performance of “Hush” from Playboy After Dark follows along with some studio footage of “Mandrake Root.” While the video quality is excellent, the PAD footage is oddly edited, with part of it on disc two and the disc one footage beginning at the end of a Jon Lord interview that is started on disc two. A minor quibble in an excellent set, but a strange oversight nonetheless.
Not surprisingly, the legendary MK II version with Ian Gillan on vocals and Roger Glover on bass gets the most coverage on the set with more than 20 songs. Highlights include killer performances of “Demon’s Eye,” “No No No,” and a version of “Highway Star” with different lyrics. The band’s signature song, “Smoke on the Water,” is, of course, included, though it seems a better version could have been chosen. While Gillan sounds fine, Ritchie Blackmore starts the song out of tune and appears disinterested. This wasn’t long before Gillan left the band, so tension on Blackmore’s part was likely. Disc two includes some rare rehearsal footage of “No No No” from the Beat Club that shows off Purple’s live prowess. These clips are mistakenly labeled as being from Rockpalast on the DVD sleeve.
When Gillan and Glover left, they were replaced by then-unknown David Coverdale on vocals and Glenn Hughes on bass. This lineup represented a bluesier, more soulful version of Deep Purple and they recorded two albums before Blackmore tired of their direction and quit his own band. “Burn” from the Leeds Polytech Student project in 1974 and “Mistreated” from the California Jam (the entire show of which is available on DVD) document this period of the band. For whatever reason, the same performance of “Burn” is repeated on disc two.
After Blackmore, came Tommy Bolin, who recorded one album with the band before their split in 1976. Bolin was hooked on heroin and later overdosed and his live shows were erratic at best. Still, “Love Child” and “You Keep on Moving” make an appearance here.
The DVD includes a fine book that reads like a scrapbook, with photos and newspaper clippings from all lineups of the band. Disc one fails to mention where any of the performances are from which, along with some of the other sloppy editing, keeps this from being a perfect Deep Purple collection. However the positives greatly outweigh the negatives, the footage is in great condition and the two DVDs contain nearly five hours of prime-era Deep purple, making this a must-own for any fan of the band.