I'm sure every single one of you has heard of Deep Purple; if not then you've either been living under, or even in, a fairly large rock or have two hearts, a sonic screwdriver and come from Gallifrey. For the rest of you, what we have here is the first official release of 'Long Beach 1971'. Recorded live on July 30th of that year by the classic MKII lineup and originally broadcast on US Radio it has, however, been available as a bootleg for many years. Releasing it officially also means it is approximately the 8,764th live Deep Purple album to arrive on planet Earth!
I love Deep Purple and have done since 1982 when I got into rock & metal, but even I am shouting 'ENOUGH'! Record companies, these days, are increasingly relying on ever more obscure gigs, demos and outtakes of long standing career bands to entice the fans to part with even more of their heard earned wages and, more often than not, the quality of recording isn't wonderful. Quite frankly, the amount of companies releasing, re-releasing and re-packaging 'official' Deep Purple product is unhealthy and the same can be said of those other two seminal groups Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath. We all know that Gillan, Blackmore, Paice, Lord and Glover were/are astonishing musicians. Three of them are still in an active Deep Purple, playing live and releasing new studio albums (which I hope continues as long as possible), the magical Jon Lord (R.I.P) is sadly no longer with us and Ritchie Blackmore has, for many years now, preferred playing a lute and dressing up as all six wives of Henry VIII, alongside his wife in 'Blackmore's Night'. Do we really need another live performance thrust upon us, especially one from forty four years ago, even if the Press Blurb says it is a "transitional and landmark performance".
That rant aside, I have another issue with this gig and, unfortunately, it was a common problem of many bands back in the day, especially Purple. This CD is just over 70 minutes but it contains only four songs. Now, I'm sure if I had been present in California that night, I would have loved every single second of what was played, but Mr Blackmore did have a terrible habit of waffling on the guitar and elongating songs to interminable length. He also did exactly the same thing in Rainbow. He and Gillan also overdid the guitar/vocal battles, which were amazing but preferable in much shorter doses. Yes, the freeform blues/jazzy workouts mid-song were also incredible but I really don't need to replay a 27 minute version of 'Mandrake Root' when about 20 minutes of that is not actually the song in question. Opener 'Speed King' fares best, only coming in at 11 minutes, but even that could have been cut down dramatically. Deep Purple really could have played eight to ten songs and this would have been so much better!
I'm also going to touch on the sound quality presented here. Apparently, 'Long Beach 1971' was remastered in 2014, purely for this release and, of course, a gig this old is not ever going to be beautifully clear but, and it's a big but, Gillan's vocals are so high in the mix that it's almost impossible to hear the rest of the band when he's singing. 'Strange Kind Of Woman' and 'Child In Time' sound slightly better but the other two aforementioned tracks are, at best, just listenable. It really doesn't help when he then launches into one of his high pitched battles with Blackmore! My wife even walked in at one point because she thought I was strangling the cat and she is also a Deep Purple fan!
I imagine many big Purple fans, rightly or not, might already have a copy of this somewhere in their collection so I'm also not sure who this release is aimed at, apart from the truly devoted who will buy or download every version of absolutely everything. I hate to say all of this because, at the end of the day, Deep Purple are a brilliant band but whether they themselves are actually involved in this release or not this is one live album too many.
LONG BEACH 1971
Review by Rick Tilley
2nd March 2015
1) Speed King
2) Strange Kind of Woman
3) Child In Time
4) Mandrake Root
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
"...a gig this old is not ever going to be beautifully clear but... Gillan's vocals are so high in the mix that it's almost impossible to hear the rest of the band."