On one episode of VH1’s That Metal Show, host Eddie Trunk made one of his many complaints that Deep Purple hadn’t yet been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Bassist/singer Glenn Hughes, serving as musical guest for the show, chimed in, “Yea, what did I do?”
I had to smile for a minute. When I think of the Deep Purple line-up wrongfully excluded from the Hall of Fame, I think of the Mark II band of Ian Gillan (vocals), Ritchie Blackmore (guitar), Jon Lord (keyboards), Ian Paice (drums), and Roger Glover (bass). But, to be fair, any honors due to the band would have to include the original singer and bassist, Rod Evans and Nick Semper, as well as the (Mark III era) replacements for Gillan and Glover, namely David Coverdale singing lead and Hughes on bass and backing vocals.
If any evidence is needed of how worthy the Mark III era is for Hall of Fame inclusion, Live in Paris 1975 says it all. Recorded in Paris on April 17, 1975 at Palais des Sports, the concert was a milestone in Purple history. For one matter, having already turned his attention to his new Rainbow project, this was Blackmore’s last gig with the band until the Deep Purple reformation in 1984.
While the concert was previously released on Purple Records in 2001, the new two-disc version is a bit historic itself. The tracks have been digitally remixed and remastered from the original multi-track recordings, and the results are simply spectacular. Five talents are perfectly placed and spread around individually in the soundscape, and the blend of these five instrumentalists and singers is vibrant, dramatic, and as powerful as Purple at its best could be.
Not surprisingly, the bulk of the material draws from Mk III’s albums Burn and Stormbringer, including the title tracks for each. Reportedly, the show featured the last performances of “The Gypsy,” “Lady Double Dealer,” “Mistreated” and “You Fool No One.” Versions of songs from Machinehead, the ubiquitous “Smoke on the Water,” “Space Truckin'” and “Highway Star” show up as jams, with Lord in particular stretching them out with quotes from other Purple classics like “Lazy.” In fact, Lord’s keyboard playing is rather different from his previous work as he pumps out many riffs on a very untypical synthesizer. This is most evident on disc two, which includes both “Truckin'” and “Star” as well as another jam, an extended workout on Don Nix’s “Going Down.”
Still, the trinity of Lord, Paice, and Blackmore is essentially what you’d expect, although Blackmore sometimes seems to be more noodling than in the groove. One serious delight is Coverdale really working the crowd, calling out for everyone to get physical, putting more emphasis on audience interaction than I recall (previous singer) Gillan doing. The dual singing of Coverdale and Hughes also elevates the concert experience from simply making studio material more exciting live. Both vocalists are energetic, enthusiastic, and passionate, with Hughes serving as a bluesy anchor to Coverdale’s fiery reaches to the top of his vocal range.
A very cool bonus on disc two is a previously unreleased half-hour interview recorded back in the day with Coverdale, Hughes, and Paice. Not only do the three share stories about the origins of songs on both Burn and Stormbringer, we hear generous samples of the songs being described.
Perhaps the best news is that this release is but the first of what is coming in 2013. We’re told the band has a new album coming at the end of April and 10 classic recordings from the Deep Purple vaults will see new re-issues as well.
What could be better? Well, a triumphal entry into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. If voting members have the time to check out Live in Paris 1975, perhaps they’ll recognize the time is long, long, long, long overdue. Hey Glenn, I’m pullin’ for ya.