Add History, Hits, and Highlights '68-'76 to the long list of recently released Deep Purple DVDs from Eagle Rock Entertainment. This one takes a look at the beginning of the band through to their first break-up in 1976, and features a host of archival footage, some that has already been officially released, and some that hasn't. For fans of the band, especially their earliest incarnations, this will be a treasure chest of goodies and should warrant repeated viewings.
From the original line-up of Blackmore, Lord, Paice, Simper, and Evans, to the classic Mk2 group that included Gillan and Glover in place to Simper and Evans, to the Mk3 featuring Coverdale and Hughes, all the way to Blackmore's exit and Bolin's entrance, this DVD covers it all. There is a History section that basically talks about each era, including some interview snippets and concert footage, but in all honesty that's good for a quick view before you get to the meat & potatoes of this set, which is the Hits section, which basically shows all the concert footage clips in their entirety. There are some 'must see' clips of the band performing "Mandrake Root", "Hallelujah", "Child In Time", "Fireball", "Demon's Eye", Into the Fire", "No No No", "Speed King", "Black Knight", and many others, plus, a ripping version of "Burn" which looks to be from the same tour as the Live in Europe album, which was Blackmore's last few months with the band.
Over on Disc 2, you get some really rare footage, not all of it the best quality, but considering the age of the films, it's pretty cool to watch. An especially impressive duo of "Wring That Neck" from both 1969 & 1970 show Blackmore coming into the peak of his powers. The first clip, from the Bilzen Jazz Festival, sees the guitarist with a Gibson hollow-body guitar (before he switched to Fender Strats full time) laying down some absolutely smoking solos, and if you look carefully, at one juncture he rips into some blazing sweep arpeggios, which quite possibly might be the first recorded footage of any rock guitar player doing the sweep picking thing, easily a decade or more before Yngwie Malmsteen or any other hot shot shredder came onto the scene. Another interesting aspect of this selection of live clips is just how great Deep Purple were at improvising and jamming, as these versions of "Wring That Neck", "No No No", "Black Night", and "Mandrake Root" feature plenty of amazing forays into musical expression that this band were known for.
Though overall there's not a lot of time spent here on the Mk3 & 4 line-ups, you do get some great footage of the band at California Jam (which has been previously released) and the already mentioned European Tour, where Coverdale and Hughes lend their bluey/funk vocals to classic tracks such as "Burn", "Mistreated", and "Space Truckin'", and the Mk4 line-up sees "Love Child" and the stirring "You Keep On Moving". Shortly after that version of the band split, guitarist Tommy Bolin was found dead of a heroin overdose, and Deep Purple was officially put on ice until the reunion of the Mk2 line-up in 1984.
In summary, there's not much to fault with here. Though the History section could have been beefed up a bit with more interview footage (it would have been nice to hear some newer interviews with the band members looking back on these years), the live material, even what has already been released, is remarkable. An essential purchase if there ever was one.
History – 20 minute history of Deep Purple from 1968 to 1976
Hits – full performances:
Mark One Line-Up (March 1968 – July 1969) – Ritchie Blackmore (guitar), Rod Evans (vocals), Jon Lord (keyboard), Ian Paice (drums), Nick Simper (bass)
3.) Wring That Neck
Mark Two Line-Up (July 1969-June 1973) – Ritchie Blackmore (guitar), Ian Gillan (vocals), Roger Glover (bass), Jon Lord (keyboard), Ian Paice (drums)
5.) Mandrake Root
6.) Speed King
7.) Black Night
8.) Child In Time
10.) Strange Kind Of Woman
11.) Fireball Writing Session
13.) Demon's Eyes
14.) No No No
15.) Into The Fire
16.) Never Before
17.) Highway Star
18.) Smoke On The Water
Mark Three Line-Up (July 1973-1975) – Ritchie Blackmore (guitar), David Coverdale (vocals), Glenn Hughes (bass/vocals), Jon Lord (keyboards), Ian Paice (drums)
Mark Four Line-Up (June 1975-March 1976) – Tommy Bolin (guitar), David Coverdale (vocals), Glenn Hughes (bass/vocals), Jon Lord (keyboards), Ian Paice (drums)
21.) Love Child
22.) You Keep On Moving
Highlights – bonus performances and interviews
Mark One Line-Up
1.) And The Address (Playboy TV)
Mark Two Line-Up
2.) Wring That Neck (Bilzen Jazz Festival 1969)
4.) Wring That Neck ("Pop Deux" Paris Concert 1970)
3.) Mandrake Root ("Pop Deux" Paris Concert 1970)
5.) Black Night (Promo Clip)
6.) No No No (Take 1 – Rockpalast Rehearsal Session)
7.) No No No (Take 2 – Rockpalast Rehearsal Session)
Mark Three Line-Up
8.) Jt. Nuit (French TV 1974)
9.) Leeds Polytechnic Student Project 1974 – featuring Burn/Space Truckin'
Mark Four Line-Up
10.) New Zealand TV Documentary (November 1975)
11.) Smoke On The Water (New Zealand TV)
12.) Tony Edwards (Deep Purple's manager) – French TV Interview 1976