“Live In California 74” by Deep Purple

Artist: Deep Purple
Title: “Live In California 74”
Label: Eagle Vision
Release Date:
Genre: Rock
Rating: 3/5

This full-length concert features a performance of the “MKIII” version of Deep Purple (Jon Lord, Ritchie Blackmore, Ian Paice joined by David Coverdale on vocals and Glen Hughes on bass/vocals). This is also the “Burn” era Purple. The show was filmed at the Ontario Motor Speedway in California (April 6th 1974) and was originally recorded for ABC Television. Despite the 30 year age of the film, there is a very good audio and video quality to it. If you analyze deeply you might find a glitch or two or places where there could be better moments but overall it is excellent quality.

Before I begin, I must admit to never really being a big fan of Deep Purple music. There were of course some songs I liked but for the most part I usually felt the material was weaker than some other bands I enjoyed. To me Richie Blackmore was always an over-rated guitarist with more flash than actual substance (I felt his solos were disjointed, too much speed picking or poorly strung together hand-licks). Give me a guitar player like Uli Jon Roth or Danny Gatton any day for style and content. Richie got lucky with the “Smoke On The Water” riff which he seems to rehash as much as possible in other songs. Yet I did find his best playing is when he doubles Jon Lord’s Hammond organ lines and since his Deep Purple days has progressed and improved greatly. Jon Lord is probably the strongest musical force for Deep Purple with his raging Hammond organ playing along with classically inspired solos. When you add Ian Paice’s drumming to the mix you find that they are indeed the backbone for Deep Purple in this concert. David Coverdale (who stepped into the shoes of Ian Gillan) would deliver some strong Blues-influenced Rock (which he later became well-known for in Whitesnake) while Glenn Hughes played bass and also helped out on some vocals. The former member of Trapeze is also good singer, but unfortunately adds some falsetto caterwauling to some songs that I feel gets a bit annoying. In general, they sounded good trading lead vocals between the two of them. Hughes later went on to a productive solo career working with Tony Iommi both in Black Sabbath and solo.

Blackmore’s playing on “Burn” (based on another overly rehashed Blackmore riff) as well as on “Mistreated” is actually pretty good. The concert reaches its climatic ending with Blackmore stepping into true Rock spectacle, the full on wankery of making noise on the guitar by stepping on to me was a tad pathetic or hysterical depending on how you look at it. There was also a lot of posing, swinging and smashing of his two guitars (first he lost while dangling off the stage by the cord – whoops jack didn’t hold, time to grab another victim). In the process of the second guitar’s destruction bashing it into a TV camera. Then there was the pre-planned immolation of an amp by blowing it up with some explosives, and tossing the remnants off the stage. This added a fiery visual element to a gear-smashing climax. It was truly a Spinal Tap moment. Rumor has it that some of this stuff was not as staged since Blackmore was very unhappy about the band going on before their scheduled time and as a result acted on his frustrations in kind on the gear.

The Deep Purple performance over all is good and fans would enjoy adding this DVD to their collection. I enjoy having it as a part of my collection just for the historical Rock aspect but it probably won’t turn the uninitiated into a fan but hey you never know. It at least made me laugh at some times and made me reach for my copy of Spinal Tap.

Bonus Features: This DVD includes some special features, video with commentary, alternative
camera angles, and some 8mm film footage taken by Robert Simon their sound engineer.

You can follow some of the other work of these musicians by looking into Rainbow, Blackmore’s Night, Whitesnake, Coverdale Page, Black Sabbath, Trapeze, Pat Thrall, Paice, Ashton & Lord & Gary Moore.

Track Listing:
1. Burn
2. Might Just Take Your Life
3. Lay Down, Stay Down
4. Mistreated
5. Smoke on the Water
6. You fool No One
7. Space Truckin’

Official web site: http://www.deep-purple.com/

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