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With two albums packaged in one jewel case, a shared booklet, and cardboard sleeve, here we have a duality of Deep Purple delicacies, re-issued under the 'Eagle Classics' mid-priced series. And I guess this is an ideal opportunity for Purple peeps to either upgrade their existing vinyl editions to CD (although, I'm sure, with one of these albums originally released in 2007, most will own the CD already), or for casual fans to acquire the albums anew for a nominal sum. Two live recordings from the Montreux Festival, a decade apart, might seem a little repetitive although, aside from a couple of overlaps, the tracklists are radically different. The band lineup also varies slightly - well, by just one member. Ian Gillan, Steve Morse, Roger Glover and Ian Paice feature on both although legendary keyboardist, the late, great Jon Lord appears on the 1996 recording whereas Don Airey was amongst Purple's 2006 personnel. It's these subtle differences that will be of great significance for the avid Purple aficionado. And what is of even greater significance for these live recordings or, rather, what makes them significant within the plethora of Purple live albums that've been issued over the years, is the band's affinity with Montreux. For those who are unaware of the affiliation between band/place (although every discerning rock/metal fan should really be familiar with this morsel of music history) - it's explicated within the lyrics for 'Smoke on the Water'. But you all know that anyway, right? Appositely, said classic features in Purple's set on both the 1996 and 2006 CDs... and complete with a lengthy jazz intro on the latter (...with a very Alex Skolnick Trio sort of vibe).

So what of the actual music? Well, it's a legendary band featuring some legendary musicians performing some of the rock/metal genre's most iconic songs. But, of course, such was Purple's proclivity to play around with arrangements a little, add a jamming element here and there, as well as an injection of infectious live energy that's discernible in every song played, across both albums, so it's not simple regurgitation of their recorded counterparts. As such, the live incarnations of the tracks provide engaging listening fodder. Each band member shines in their respective performances although Steve Morse's guitar work is particularly phenomenal throughout - respectful of Ritchie Blackmore's lead work although also imprinting the songs using his own fretboard vocabulary (notably more so on the first of the albums as the 2006 performance features a greater number of Morse-era Purple tracks anyway). Also of interest is Gillan's voice. Some singers deteriorate over time in their vocal abilities, others seem to improve, mature, and refine their skills with age. A decade on from 1996 and Gillan's voice, dare I say, actually sounds better on the second of the albums.

Sound-wise, both the 1996 and 2006 recordings sound rather fine indeed, with the latter a tad above the former. Both have and, I'm sure, will stand the test of time as important and essential sonic documents of one of the scene's most seminal bands. I'm not entirely sure how much this set retails for although with mention of "mid-priced" in the press blurb, I'm presuming you'll be able to pick up a copy for under ten quid. I certainly recommend you do so right now!
Eagle Records
Double Album
Review by Mark Holmes
74:15 & 67:27
7th Oct 2013
LIVE AT MONTREUX 1996: 1) Fireball; 2) Ted the Mechanic; 3) Pictures of Home; 4) Black Night; 5) Woman From Tokyo; 6) No One Came; 7) When a Blind Man Cries; 8) Hey Cisco; 9) Speed King; 10) Smoke on the Water; 11) Sometimes I Feel Like Screaming; 12) Fools
LIVE AT MONTREUX 2006: 1) Pictures of Home; 2) Things I Never Said; 3) Strange Kind of Woman; 4) Rapture of the Deep; 5) Wrong Man; 6) Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye; 7) When a Blind Man Cries; 8) Lazy; 9) Keyboard Solo; 10) Space Truckin'; 11) Highway Star; 12) Smoke on the Water
"...a legendary band featuring some legendary musicians performing some of the rock/metal genre's most iconic songs."