Graz 1975
Live In Verona

Deep Purple

Live recordings from Deep Purple continue to fall out of the sky at an alarming rate. And if you’re a fan like me, you only wish you had enough time to go through them all. In 2014 alone, there’s been a flurry of live Purple CD releases, including Stockholm 1970 (reportedly the same show as Scandinavian Nights), Celebrating Jon Lord: The Rock Legend, and the super-duper Made In Japan box set. So why not finish out the year with a couple more featuring two different lineups, separated by almost 40 years, and now available in different configurations: Graz 1975 on CD and vinyl; Live in Verona on DVD and Blu-ray Disc.

Graz 1975 features the Mach III lineup of Deep Purple – guitarist Ritchie Blackmore, singer David Coverdale, bassist and singer Glenn Hughes, keyboardist Jon Lord and drummer Ian Paice – at the Liebenauer ice rink on the outskirts of Graz, Austria’s second largest city, on April 3, 1975. This is yet another release of Blackmore’s turn with Deep Purple before leaving to form Rainbow. The setlist is identical to that of Live In Paris 1975, without “Going Down,” “Highway Star,” and the band interview.

The performances are a little smoother without the excessive between-song raps that Coverdale and Hughes drunkenly stumbled through on certain nights. The recording is much better too — “Burn” burns with a little more intensity and the guitar and keyboard breaks on “Stormbringer” are a little more raw and raunchy. Hughes gets in a couple of words before Paice starts off the cadence to “The Gypsy,” which seems to speed up with each verse. The bassist gets cut off again as “Lady Double Dealer” blasts off. Thankfully, this is one of the better versions of “Smoke On The Water” with Coverdale out front. That may be due to Lord’s splendid keys and Hughes’ arching yelps. “You Fool No One” may be the heaviest showcase for the band and Blackmore in particular on the CD, before “Space Truckin’” gets skewered by Coverdale and Hughes. But not without a fight.

From Austria, we jump forward to the summer of 2011 for Live In Verona and the regal surroundings of the Arena di Verona, a Roman amphitheatre originally built in 30 AD. To make it an even more dramatic, Deep Purple Mach VIII — Paice (the lone original member), singer Ian Gillan, bassist Roger Glover, guitarist Steve Morse and keyboardist Don Airey — is backed up by the Neue Philharmonie Frankfurt. Together they attack four Purple songs from the early 70s — “Highway Star,” “Hard Lovin’ Man,” “Maybe I’m A Leo” and “Strange Kind Of Woman.” The setlist is identical to that of the Live At Montreux 2011 DVD and Blu-ray Disc, but the scenery is much nicer, in more ways than one.

At the time, the band was still touting songs from Rapture Of The Deep, their then-latest studio album from 2005, even though the title track is the only number they played. “Woman From Tokyo,” “When A Blind Man Cries,” “Perfect Strangers” and “Smoke On The Water” all get an airing with the orchestra. After lazing into “Lazy” with the eye-popping keyboard and guitar antics of Airey and Morse, respectively; Morse and conductor Stephen “BK” Bentley-Klein then engage in a short musical exchange between guitar and violin. Gillan struggles with some of the higher notes on many of the songs, but keeps the vocals jazzy and recognizable enough to make everything sound right.

So many Deep Purple live offerings beg the question: What could possibly be left? Could there possibly be anything left from the classic Mach II lineup? More from Mach III? What about Mach IV with Tommy Bolin? Perhaps something else from the Mach II reunion of the 80s? Anyone up for some live Mach V with Joe Lynn Turner? Perhaps Mach VI with Joe Satriani? Then there’s everything there’s shows from the 90s and 00s. Chances are, we’re going to be getting more live Deep Purple from one era or another. Meanwhile, Graz 1975 and Live In Verona should sustain your Deep Purple fix for the next couple of months.

~ Shawn Perry

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