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Deep Purple: Mk III The Final Concerts

The fourth in the recent Deep Purple reissue campaign from Eagle Rock, Mk III-The Final Concerts finds that version of the band just about reaching the end of the line and while this line up is my own personal favourite in terms of studio output, I have to admit that it is reasonably easy to hear why guitarist Ritchie Blackmore was about to head for the door marked "Exit". With the four reissues in this series covering from 1970 to 1976 the latter being the year that this set was recorded, offering an interesting trek through the Mk II and III incarnation of this band, hearing the change in direction, style and performance across those six short years is really rather shocking. By '76, gone were singer Ian Gillan, bassist Roger Glover, half hour improvised songs and extended individual solos and in their place had come frontman David Coverdale, bassist and second singer Glenn Hughes, a more blues/funk direction and (slightly) shorter, sharper interpretations of the songs. Doubtless Blackmore felt he was losing control and to be fair, it sounds like he was right. This set was recorded during this line up's (completed by Ian Paice on drums and Jon Lords on keyboards) final shows together in Paris and Graz, including two versions of "Mistreated" and "You Fool No One", the latter of which oddly omits the Ian Paice drum solo which Coverdale mentions in the introduction.

With two albums now under their belt Burn and Stormbringer (both amazingly released in '74) the majority of the set is made up from the Coverdale/Hughes era and in truth the vocal performances on songs from this era such as "Burn" and "Mistreated" are far more enthusiastic than those given to Gillan era numbers like "Space Truckin'" or "Smoke On The Water". That lackadaisical approach also infects Blackmore, with his playing at times falling into the sloppy category, as witnessed on the disinterested intro to "Smoke..." as well as some of the more extravagant tangents he heads off on during the alternate version of "Mistreated". Not to be outdone Hughes is also by this stage adding more of the high pitched histrionics, which split fan opinion, to his performance and while he is for most part spot on, on occasion his delivery is far from pitch perfect, or even in keeping with the songs.

That said, the poignancy of a set of quality musicians ripping out an emotion packed track like "Mistreated", or tearing through the ferocity of "Lady Double Dealer" is compelling to say the least and keyboard maestro Lord and drummer extraordinaire Paice ably hold all the other aspects of the music together with style and panache. That said, the rambling version of "Space Truckin'" falls well short of the standard set on this song by the Mk II version of Purple, with Lord over indulging and Hughes warbling for all he's worth, although the rampant gallop of "Highway Star" fares much better from all concerned, with the possible exception of a rather flat Coverdale.

The classic songs and sometimes wonderful, sometimes seat-of-the-pants performances makes for a captivating set that allows Last Concerts to stand well as an important document in the turbulent life of one of the most important bands in rock history. As well as being better than the Made In Europe album that initially was meant to document this version of the band live.

Track Listing
Disc 1
1. Burn
2. Stormbringer
3. The Gypsy
4. Mistreated
5. Lady Double Dealer
6. Smoke On The Water
7. You Fool No One

Disc 2
1. Space Truckin
2. Going Down/Highway Star
3. Mistreated (Alternative Version)
4. You Fool No One (Alternative Version)

Added: August 27th 2011
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Official Deep Purple Web Site
Hits: 2540
Language: english

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