Why, you might ask, is a lover of Jamaican reggae and ska, and of 70s Black American music, writing a review of a heavy metal band?
Well firstly because I love music of all types, and secondly, quite simply because this is the best live recording of any genre that money can buy!
It is THE definitive live album bar none, and one that every serious lover of music must have in their collection. It documents one of those once-in-a-lifetime occasions when a group of people come together (and here I must include the recording engineer and the audience) and produce something really special. This is metal’s finest moment and one Deep Purple or indeed any other hard rock/metal band have never managed to equal, let alone surpass.
Here is an album that somehow manages to capture what most live recordings don’t. It hasn’t been fiddled with later in the studio so play it loud through a set of headphones and you are there. Sure, everything may be louder than everthing else but that does not mean that any one instrument drowns out any other. The recording engineer did a fantastic job in this respect – truly amazing given its thirty-four year vintage.
As for the content, yeah, some of the solos went on a bit by today’s standards, but then the likes of Blackmore and Paice (who incidentally as a drummer I rate just marginally behind the truly great and highly creative Ginger Baker) were so damn good as musicians that they had every right to be a bit self-indulgent. That said, I think Ian Paice could have demonstrated his prowess on the drums in two minutes rather than six or seven. Space Truckin’ also goes on way too long and the quality of recording is not as good as the other tracks. But I quibble.
These were real musicians playing real musical instruments before a live audience, nothing else, – surely what rock music was supposed to be all about! Gillan gets the vocal balance just right, Lord is the only person in the history of rock music that can get one of those god-awful ’70s organs to sound anywhere decent, while Glover drives the whole thing along with a good thumping bass. These guys played so well that you have to keep reminding yourself that this is a live album. That’s the difference between truly professional musicians and all the other the second-raters. Listen to Blackmore about five and a half minutes into “Child in Time” and you’ll see what I mean. I don’t care what genre it is, to hear someone play any instrument as well as this before a live audience is quite simply awe-inspiring!
The second CD in the remastered set is a bit of a waste of space however. The tracks are fine as pieces of musicianship go, but the sound quality is very poor and no amount of remastering can make them better. Still, as it’s a bonus it shouldn’t detract from the overall rating. They must have been the tracks rejected the first time around.
So there you have it. If you are a next generation metalhead and haven’t heard this, I suggest that you fork over the few bucks and invest in a bit of metal history. Bands like this are where it all started. Play it a few times, compare it to today, and then like me you’ll probably wonder where it all went wrong!