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While Glenn Hughes is currently riding high with his post-Black Country Communion classic rock outfit, California Breed, here's a reminder of his former musical heritage, in the form of a Deep Purple live CD, featuring their Mk III lineup. Alongside the Cannock-born bassist/vocalist, are a quartet of hard rock/metal luminaries - frontman David Coverdale; guitarist Ritchie Blackmore; keyboardist Jon Lord; and sticksman Ian Paice. Recorded back in 1975 at the Liebenauer ice rink in the Austrian city of Graz, this has been billed as part of 'The Official Deep Purple (Overseas) Live Series' and, apparently, the full recording has never previously been issued. So here it is, in all its aural glory, the entire set from what the local press, at the time, claimed was "the rock event of the year".

Comprised of just eight songs, this might seem, on the surface, a tad fleeting, although with extra widdling on the likes of 'Smoke on the Water' and 'Space Truckin', with ten and twenty minute versions respectively, as well as segues into random songs such as 'With a Little Help From My Friends', what we have is near enough eighty minutes of music. And I'm presuming this is actually Purple's full set, although its playing time peaks at a CD's capacity, so happy coincidence or necessary truncation? I'll have to take the press blurb's word that this is, in fact, complete, although I suspect it's missing whatever encore tracks were aired that night, at the very least.

Sound-wise, this is not the most pristine, polished and perfectly realised live recording out there. Far from it, in fact. However, it's from 1975 so for a near-forty year audio document, it's great. And its controlled, organic rawness works in its favour as this actually sounds like a live recording - evidently, minimal post-production polish has been applied, despite the "audio restored and digitally remastered in 2014" statement on the back of this promo's slipcase. The raw sonics also add a nice organic depth to the discernible live energy of each musician's performance, for this sounds like a band at the top of their game, and the vitality of their musical showmanship shines through. Further, a spot-on mix affords clarity for each and every instrument and vocal part, so individual artistry can be admired here as much as their collective talent.

Where Purple's performance is slightly flawed, and consequently the recording of, is in Coverdale and Hughes' vocal interplay. It sounds sporadically incongruous and mismatched, as if each singer is vying for intonated dominance. It's not persistently bad; rather, just a little hit and miss, and unharmoniously axiomatic as and when. Overall, though, this is a largely fine exemplar of Mk III Purple, although I do have my suspicions as to its purported completeness. Still, I'm certain Purple aficionados will snap this up upon its release.
GRAZ 1975
Review by Mark Holmes
15th Sept 2014
1) Burn
2) Stormbringer
3) The Gypsy
4) Lady Double Dealer
5) Mistreated
6) Smoke on the Water
7) You Fool No One
8) Space Truckin'
"...a largely fine exemplar of Mk III Purple..."