Deep Purple - Long Beach 1971
The instant I heard the twiddly guitar fabulousness that spunked Strange Kind of Woman into the recesses of my brain, I was a goner. Deep Purple were definitely a band for me. Ever since my love for them has soared, as I voraciously devoured every single one of their songs, my senses tingled, my heart swelled and I was hooked.
Well before my time, as with all classic bands and their work, this made not a jot of difference, timeless classics full of riffs, melody and spectacular lyrics that leave Deep Purple standing as one of the best bands in all creation. Fact.
Formed in the late 1960s before splitting in 1976 leaving the various members to cast their Purple net, far and wide; through Whitesnake and Rainbow to name a few before reforming in 1984, despite more line-up changes than I've had hot dinners, they are still going strong.
The eminent quintet of Blackmore; Gillan; Glover; Lord and Paice produced genuine, faultless and timeless classics; Child in Time, Highway Star and of course, for every amateur guitarist out there, Smoke On The Water.
After complex beginnings with the band Roundabout; Lord, Blackmore and Paice wanted to steer the band to a heavier less progressive route, duly accomplishing this in 1969 with Glover and Gillan completing what would prove to be an immensely impressive outfit. Issuing their first proper album; Deep Purple In Rock featuring the epic Child In Time and Speed King, they followed this up with Fireball storming through the charts, straight to the top in the same month as this recording.
So when the chance to listen to the 1971 Long Beach live recording, complete with the original line up of Blackmore; Gillan; Glover; Lord and Paice, I would be lying if I said a little bit of sex wee didn't make an appearance. If that wasn’t good enough I damn near needed a mop when I began to listen.
Recorded at the Long Beach Arena, California, at a time when they were still developing their set-list and in the midst of conquering the world, this recording sees some rare music getting an official release thus allowing the chance for the underworld bootlegging spectacular to be heard far and wide.
Speed King begins this quality recording; at just over ten minutes, it is the epitome of DP at their best; if you listen to nothing else, this one will do. A real rock and roll number, right from the off Gillan’s characteristic screams and Blackmore’s blisteringly hot guitar slaps you in the face. The tempo; up and down in rollercoaster fashion as Lord’s keyboards blend seamlessly with the drums and bass during the quieter sections. With very little introduction it just soars from the beginning, taking off with aplomb and sophistication showcasing their immense talent.
With a chat to the audience building anticipation, I wait with bated breath for my long time love to make an appearance and boy does it.
Strange Kind Of Woman, always an excellent tune, displays the vocal and guitar harmony spectacularly; Gillan and Blackmore work together fantastically well here, much more in tune than they would be in later years when they split. A slight diversion to the traditional recordings with heavier guitar; almost harsh and with the solo being slightly different it adds further interest and intrigue. Working so very, very well.
Child In Time follows a whole 20 minutes of musical heaven, the gentle intro, the slow build as Lord’s musicality comes in heavier and louder- right to the fore- before the guitar and drums really hit it and hit it hard! A phenomenal offering, the guitar work-as the whole song- that bit louder, that bit more blistering and grandiose than the standard versions. As with all good orgasms, aural of course, interplay is essential; here this is no different as Blackmore and Lord dance their trademark dance whether intricately or taking a back seat as they each have their extensive solos, exemplary. Gillan closes the song superbly as he reaches the dizzying heights of being at his best, the loudest and the highest. The Best.
Mandrake Root brings the four track set to a close a mere at truly stunning 27 minutes in length; seeing DP at their most progressive. An emotional hurricane of slow moody sections, tempo changes and flashes of various elements from Hendrix, in the primary riff, to Iron Butterfly tinges, it is a colossal feat of musical elegance. One that leaves you breathless to say the least.
There is, I feel, no better definition of classic hard rock than Deep Purple, one of the best, most successful, influential and genre defining bands of all time. And this album tells you everything you need to know about them. Outstanding.
Words: Kat Hilton