Recorded on April 3, 1975 at the Liebenauer ice rink, located just outside Austria's second largest city Graz, this was to be the MkIII version of Deep Purple's third to last performance before they went out with a bang in Germany & Paris, leaving Ritchie Blackmore to move on with Rainbow and Tommy Bolin taking his place in the group. Though the 'man in black' was just days away from starting a new career for himself in his new band with Ronnie James Dio & Co., it did not hinder his performances one bit, as these shows represent some of his best playing ever. Those who already have the wonderful Made in Europe album, which were recordings patched together from this entire tour, or the killer last show Live in Paris, obviously are aware of just how much this band were clicking together musically right up to the very end before Blackmore walked out the door. That is indeed also the case here with Graz 1975.
The guitarist is in fine form throughout this set, delivering some savage lead lines on the emotional "The Gypsy" (along with a great dual vocal from David Coverdale & Glenn Hughes), and really firing out the riffs on stellar versions of both "Burn" & "Stormbringer". The version of "Burn" here is one of the better live ones you'll hear, and though I still prefer the Made in Europe as the definitive live version of that song, this one isn't far behind. "Lady Double Dealer" rocks hard as always, and both Coverdale and Blackmore shine on the extended blues romp "Mistreated". Though the booklet says this is the complete Graz show, it's pretty obvious that "You Fool No One" has been edited, with Ian Paice's drum solo missing but a cool interlude from "The Mule" included, as well as a kick ass keyboard solo from Jon Lord. If you want the ultimate live version of this tune, head on over to the Paris CD, also the same version that appears on Made in Europe, complete with keyboard, guitar, and drum solos. "Space Truckin' " also appears to have been spliced, instead leaving room for nearly 4-minutes of Hughes' crooning and funky bass licks at the beginning of the song, though for some a few edits here on what is already a 20-minute version might be somewhat of a relief. Though this is a cool rendition, it's permeated by too much funk and too much of Hughes' shrieking, and lacks the potent punch of the MkII line-up who totally owned this song. Also missing are the encores "Going Down" & "Highway Star", but to get this all on one CD, I can see why this was left out. Coverdale & Hughes just never really did the latter song justice to be honest, with Ian Gillan being hard shoes to fill on that classic. "Smoke on the Water" here however is quite good, perhaps the best this version of Purple has sounded on the many live versions available of this heavy rock staple.
Sound quality overall is pretty decent, not quite up to the level of the marvelous Live in Paris set, but still very good. I think a perfect score would have been awarded here had the entire show been included as a 2-disc set, but even as it is it's still a landmark release. It comes in a cool digipack filled with photos and an essay from Geoff Barton, and if you are a Deep Purple fan and have been collecting the other releases in the Archive series from the folks at Edel/Eagle Rock/Universal/Ear-Music, you'll need this one as well.
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3. The Gypsy
4. Lady Double Dealer
6. Smoke On The Water
7. You Fool No One
8. Space Truckin