Parlophone [Release date 16.06.14]
The music industry is a great place for recycling. Never more so than in terms of album reissues and one wonders why the powers that be cannot render definitive versions from the start?
This BBC recording from 1972 has appeared previously but only now is the correct running order restored and one track makes its first appearance on CD.
Uniquely, in 1972 the BBC recorded Purple for their ‘Sounds Of The Seventies’ series using 8-track and it was broadcast on March 18 of that year.
Most of the set features ‘Machine Head’ (the album came out in late-March) and therefore is an almost unique and complete live account of that album, complementing – even if overshadowed – by the seminal ‘Made In Japan’ set released in late-1972.
The only tracks missing from this BBC gig are those they couldn’t rescue from the original tapes, sound-check versions of ‘Never Before’ and ‘Highway Star’ although they managed to salvage ‘Maybe I’m A Leo’.
The liner notes detail the various iterations of the album’s history from vinyl in 1980 as part of an ‘In Concert’ double LP. There’s no explanation though for the unusual use of 8-track tape. Perhaps uniquely also the original broadcast included a fair amount of (rather superfluous) banter from the compere Mike Harding, and interjections from Ian Gillan.
And the music? Well here is a band on the threshold of greater commercial success, there is a confidence in the delivery and a contrast with the earlier BBC set from 1970 (That gig was included on the 1980 vinyl and the first CD issue of these concerts in 1992).
The extended version of ‘Strange Kind Of Woman’ showcases Blackmore’s idiosyncratics and the spot on scat singing from Gillan, whilst ‘Space Truckin’ is a 22-minute tour-de-force. Of course collectors can debate whether this gig exceeds the Made In Japan set in places (although that analysis is now further complicated by the recent multi-disc release).
In truth, ‘Smoke On The Water’ – which receives a first live outing – lacks the power of the definitive MIJ version but, really, this is splitting hairs. ”In Concert 72′ is a wonderful artefact not just of a band in their ascendancy but of a time when there was actually something exciting for rock fans on the radio. ****
Review by David Randall
David Randall presents ‘Assume The Position’ on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio every Sunday at 22:00 GMT.
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