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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Deep Purple

Live at NEC 1993

Review by Gary Hill

Deep Purple has a lot of jam band built into the musical picture. The interesting thing is, no matter how hard rocking or proggy they get, they tend to never lose sight of the groove. That’s unusual and impressive and one reason they are such a force with which to reckon in live performance.  That said, this comes from the same tour as the Stuttgart show (I’ve reviewed that CD in this issue of MSJ, too). They were released at one time as a box set. That show is definitely superior. The band seems to gel better there. The sound quality is better. Additionally, Ian Gillan seems to struggle at times with remembering the lyrics and hitting the notes. All those things taken into consideration, though, this is worth having as a historical record for sure. You probably will dig out the other one more often to listen to, though. That said, that performance is magical and just because this doesn’t stand up to it, it doesn’t mean that much. Few live performances would stand up to that one.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2014  Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Disc 1
Highway Star
There is quite an extended introduction to this piece. It works pretty well until the vocals come into the mix. It’s not that they are bad, by any means. It’s just that the vocals are too far up in the mix and it makes the whole mix sound pretty flat and lackluster at that point. Still, there performance is quite good and I love the keyboard solo.
Black Night
Somehow the mix seems to work better here. This stomper is a pretty high energy and classy number. The guitar solo section here is a real scorcher. The whole band really seem to dig the jamming as they work their way through this beast. It’s got a little audience singalong built into the middle of it, too.
Talk About Love
Here we’ve got a pretty straightahead stomping, riff based Deep Purple tune. It gets some solid soloing built into it and they put in quite an inspired performance overall.
A Twist in the Tale
At times the mix feels a little vocal happy here, too. That’s mostly at the start, though. This is fast paced, hard rocking number that’s pretty effective. It definitely has a different sound than some of the other stuff here does, though. In some ways this feels closer to progressive rock at times. As throughout the set it gets some cool jamming built into the tune.
Perfect Strangers
I’ve always been a big fan of the Perfect Strangers album, so as this powers out with the organ stopping it, I’m pleased. I like this rocking rendition quite a bit, but there are points where the keyboards seem to overpower the arrangement. Well, it’s probably more the mix than it is the arrangement. I swear near the end I hear a little bit of the song “Gates of Babylon” that Ritchie Blackmore did with Rainbow.
Beethoven's Ninth
They turn this Beethoven number into a screaming party tune in a lot of ways. This is bouncy and fun. It definitely gets quite proggy.
Jon's Keyboard Solo
Coming straight out of the previous number, Lord’s keyboard solo starts in quite classical territory. This is quite an extensive keyboard solo and it works into different melodies and different landscapes as it continues. Lord brings it more into prog sounds and then turns it back to a full on classical movement. Then he takes it to some honky tonk rock and roll that would make Jerry Lee Lewis proud. Old time saloon music follows before we’re brought back into classical territory and the thing just keeps evolving. A little “shave and a hair cut” ends it.
Knocking At Your Back Door
Lord continues his solo by bringing this one into being. When that dramatic, ominous keyboard sound ensues, it’s excitement time all over again. The band starts to build out on it. They put in a smoking hot performance. There’s a bit of an excursion into other territory mid-track, even touching on some Hendrix. Then Lord brings the keyboard element from the track back into being and he and Ian Gillan have a little bit of a duel between them. That gives way eventually to a return to the song proper. It’s a short return to close it.
Anyone's Daughter
This is a bit bluesy. It’s more of a mainstream, melodic rocker than the kind of hard-edged tune these guys usually do.
Disc 2
Child in Time
Seeming to combine progressive rock and psychedelic, this epic piece has always been one of my favorites from Deep Purple. It’s the first tune I ever remember hearing from them. So, I’m definitely partial to any live rendition of the cut. This definitely does not disappoint. I love this thing. It’s probably my favorite point of the whole set. Of course, like I said, I’m biased.
Anya
This has a lot of Blackmore’s intricate Celtic leanings all over the introduction. It grows out after a minute or so into a more rocking number that’s quite proggy. There’s a little nod to James Bond early in the rocking section. Then it continues to evolve and work through from there. They take us through a number of shifts and changes and in a lot of ways it’s one of the proggier pieces here. 
The Battle Rages On
As this powers out, it reminds me of some of the metallic prog that seems to have been inspired by Deep Purple over the years (think Dream Theater). They create some more typical DP sounds as they continue, though. We’re taken through a number of changes and alterations. This has some more progressive rock in the midst as it continues, too.
Lazy / Drum Solo
The first half of this is the Deep Purple classic tune. They put in a smoking hot rendition that’s purely on fire. They throw a little bit of a bluesy, almost country section into the piece, completely with harmonica. The harmonica remains wailing as the band power it into more typical territory. Then we’re pulled out into the drum solo portion of the piece. They bring it back to the song proper before it ends.
Space Truckin'
Here we get another classic Purple tune. This has always been one of my favorites, as well (I sure have a lot of favorite Deep Purple tunes). I like this live rendition quite a bit. This is only a little more than half the length of the studio rendition, though. Still, it’s smoking hot and includes a killer jam at the end. It segues straight into the next tune.
Woman from Tokyo
Here’s a two minute rendition of another Deep Purple classic. This has never been one of my favorites – it seems a bit over done, but in this short take, it works pretty well. The jam band aspect plays out nicely, too.
Paint It Black
What an unexpected turn of events this is. Deep Purple turns in psychedelic, hard rocking version of the Rolling Stones classic. Gillan seems to have a bit of a problem with the lyrics at times, but this is so cool that it doesn’t matter. They turn this out into one heck of a powered up jam from there.
Hush
The first of two encores, Gillan seems to struggle a bit with the words here, too. This is an old school DP classic. It’s not one of my favorites by them, but I like this version (other than the lyrical thing) probably better than the studio rendition.
Smoke on the Water
This is one of those songs that a band has to do, but tend to be very over-played. I have to say, for some reason, I really like this live version. There’s an extended audience singalong section mid-track and this just really grooves.
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