Archive for the ‘All that is Deep and Purple’ Category

CDs that are going, part one

March 15th, 2010 by Reinder

I'm just going to go ahead and get started on posting the list of CDs I want to get rid of. As usual, they are free to anyone local to Groningen, and can be had for the cost of postage outside my immediate bicycling range. First come, first served, except for large batches sent overseas. CDs will be listed in alphabetical order. Most items are CDs I have multiple copies of, no longer like, only like for one or two songs or discovered after buying that they were in fact real stinkers. I'll mark out the real stinkers just as a warning, but we all now that one person's stinker is another's lost gem. There will be some rarities as we get through the list.

Ian Anderson, Divinities: Twelve Dances With God. Jethro Tull's front man's solo instrumental album from 1995 taking a New Age turn. I actually like this album a lot despite the overuse of synthesizers to represent orchestral parts, but my fiancee also has a copy so this one goes out.

Ben Folds Five, Naked Baby Pictures. I heard some of the songs at my brother's one day and then a few years later found the CD cheap at a store. Only listened to it a few times because by then whatever apppeal it had, had faded for me.

Blackmore's Night, Shadow of the Moon. On this record, Ritchie Blackmore is fully engaged and focused on his playing for the first time since the Deep Purple reunion record Perfect Strangers, arguably for the first time since the Rainboy record Rising. His playing is precise and inspired. Unfortunately what all this great playing is in the service of, is very thin gruel indeed. The songs are mostly watered-down renaissance fair music with dippy lyrics. The instrumentals do work well, though and the poppy "Writing on the Wall" shows how they could have gone in another direction and made that work.

David Bowie, Hours. A good record, but not one I need in my life right now.

Black Sabbath, The Best of Black Sabbath. Compilation covering the albums up to 1983's Born Again. The Paranoid album is included in full.

Christine Collister, The Dark Gift of Time. Collister is a fine singer/songwriter but the album as a whole never clicked for me.

Crash Test Dummies, The Ghosts That Haunt Me. Ditto; A Worm's Life, the one where they started falling apart.

Deep Purple, On Tour MCMXCIII. Quadruple disk set of the concerts that the live album Come Hell Or High Water was culled from, remixed to sound more like a bootleg and released a decade later. This is one of the releases that the band demanded be withdrawn, and with good reason. For completists only. In The Absense of Pink, a messy double CD release of the group's only UK performance during the Perfect Strangers tour in 1985. Not their finest musical moment. Also, I can't guarantee that this one is playable as it's Connoisseur Connections releases at the time were often affected by CD rot.

Sandy Denny and Friends, Gold Dust (The Final Concert). Sandy Denny has become one of my favorite singers over the years, but by the time of this gig, she was in deep decline. In addition, the original tapes were damaged and the parts on these were re-recorded by musicians who were not part of the original concert, making this a bit of a curiosity rather than a true representation of the concert.

Marlene Dietrich, Falling in Love Again. A Naxos collection of Dietrich's singles from 1930 to 1949, bought as part of the documentation process for a White House in Orbit storyline.
Ani DiFranco, Little Plastic Castle. I liked this a lot back in 1998. Don't care much for it now.

Fairport Convention, AT2/The Boot (reunion concerts from 1982 and 1983, an official release but of bootleg quality), From Cropredy to Portmeirion (live album recorded in 1990), The Cropredy Box (Annual Reunion Concert from 1997, their 30th anniversary. I know people who consider this an essential release but I'm not one of them.), House Full (improved reissue of a live concert from 1970, since then reissued again in yet another version with better sound), The Five Seasons (studio album from 1990), The History of Fairport Convention (Compilation originally from 1972), Live Convention (1973 live album. The unremastered edition from 1990 is the one I'm giving away). Meet on the Ledge (Compilation of remastered songs released in 1999), Moat on the Ledge (Live album recorded in 1981), Red and Gold (studio album from 1988), The 25th Anniversary Concert (Live album from 1992)

Finntroll, Visor om Slutet. "Acoustic" album by the seminal Troll Metal group. Didn't really work.

Fleetwood Mac, Tango in the Night, Say You Will. Tango is pretty good but I'm fed up with that pop sound now.

Fotheringay, s.t. Nothing wrong with this one, just not my favorite Sandy Denny recording.

The Gathering, Mandylion, Strange Machines (single). I liked this a lot back in 1996. Don't care for it anymore now.

Ian Gillan, What I Did On My Vacation Compilation of his Ian Gillan Band and Gillan periods. Good stuff but I know all of it by heart by now.

Hayseed Dixie, Let There Be Rockgrass. HD are a good parody group but what they aren't is a good bluegrass band, and as a result this record has long worn out its welcome for me.

Roy Harper, Born in Captivity/Work Of Heart, In Between Every Line, Valentine. Some lesser records from the work of a great but very uneven singer/songwriter.

No heroics, please

April 3rd, 2009 by Reinder

This week, I had a cold. I stayed in bed for two days and am beginning to think that when I got back to work on Thursday, it was really too early as I don't think I was mentally up to scratch. It's been my opinion for a long time that people who are sick with short-lived contagious illnesses that temporarily addle their brains should not try to be heroic, and I think I kinda broke that rule. Not that everyone else didn't already have stinking colds anyway.

This YouTube video (embedding has been disabled) shows Deep Purple singer Ian Gillan trying to be a hero while under the influence of a stinking cold, on live television and doing terrible damage to his reputation in the process. Don't be like him.

This YouTube vid, shot after a gig in São Paulo, explains why he carried on through over a week of looking, sounding and feeling like death warmed over:

I do admire the entire band's commitment to carrying on no matter what, and what could be more rock and roll than playing a whole gig bleeding from your crotch? But I don't think it worked out well this time.

Stormbringer, remastered

February 26th, 2009 by Reinder

The music industry's slowest remastering program lurched forwards one more step towards completion this week. Starting in 1995 with the 25th anniversary edition of Deep Purple in Rock, it has now finally managed to get around to the release of the 35th anniversary edition of the album Stormbringer that was originally released just 5 years after In Rock. For Deep Purple fans, of which I still am one, it's a big event. For many years, the original masters were missing and this reissue had been eagerly anticipated even by those who, like me, always thought it was a bit shit compared to their best work. After the 2004 30th anniversary edition of its predecessor Burn, I concluded that the album had really come back to life with its new and improved sound quality, and that it was much, much better than I remembered it being. Likewise, Stormbringer has come back to life with its new and improved sound quality. Unfortunately, it's still a bit shit, and in some ways is even less inspiring than I remembered.
It starts off well enough with the title track, a mid-uptempo rocker with some nice brash keyboard work from Jon Lord, that uses the vocal teamwork of David Coverdale and Glenn Hughes well. Problem is, it does that in pretty much the same way as the opening, title track of Burn from less than a year earlier, and "Burn" is the better track of the two, with a faster tempo, a more energetic rhythm section and some of the best guitar and keyboard work in the group's history.
On the rest of Stormbringer, though, the band are either going through the motions of creating Deep Purple tracks or experimenting with adding soul and funk elements to the formula.

Many fans absolutely hate the soul and funk elements, but they could have worked if everyone had been into it. The main problem was that guitarist Ritchie Blackmore was spending his time and energy working on solo material, wasn't interested in the funk and did not have the professionalism to even try to make the group's material work. He famously played one of the solos with just his thumb. It shows: someone who did not know Blackmore's other work would not hear what was so great about him on this record. Apart from a few flashes of his old lyricism, such as midway through the solo in "Hold On", he plays obvious, unoriginal licks without putting much of his energy into it.

The result is a mishmash. Nothing on the album is embarrassingly bad (that would have to wait, as far as studio work was concerned, until 1987's House of Blue Light and especially 1990's Slaves and Masters) but as a whole, little of it excites or lifts the spirits and many tracks wear out their welcome pretty quickly.

One caveat: my review is based on the download sold through iTunes, which means that I'm missing out on several things. One of them is the CD booklet - I really wish a digital version of that had been included, because the liner notes from present and former band members and champion Deep Purple trainspotter Simon Robinson have always been great reads and given plenty of context to the album for those of us who, like me, weren't there at the time. The other is the quadrophonic mixes. They are present on the iTunes edition, but they have been mixed back down to stereo so they don't add all that much to the package (although some of them are alternate cuts that do hold some interest for Deep Purple completists). The physical disk, on the other hand, comes with a DVD in which they can be experienced in 5.1 multi-channel. I'm not really into that, but if you are, then buying the physical package is probably worth it and may redeem this so-so record far more than a straight stereo remaster ever could. For me, as someone without a 5.1 system and someone who hasn't even played records directly from CD in years, it would just be another plastic disk to fill my shelves with, so I've passed on it.

Albums to avoid: Deep Purple Live at the Birmingham NEC 1993

February 27th, 2007 by Reinder

Contact Music reports:

Veteran rockers DEEP PURPLE are pleading with fans to not buy their latest album - a recording of their worst ever concert. The SMOKE ON THE WATER band are incensed record label Sony BMG has released double live album NEC 1993 to help promote the latest Deep Purple tour. [...] Singer IAN GILLAN and guitarist RITCHIE BLACKMORE were locked in a feud at the time of the gig in Birmingham, England. Gillan has slammed the record executives behind the decision to release NEC 1993, calling them "opportunist fat cats".

I wouldn't call this performance the worst Deep Purple concert ever. That dubious honour probably goes to one of the gigs from 1976 when half the band was performing in a haze of cocaine and heroin (neither Gillan nor Blackmore were in the band at that time), but there are good reasons not to buy this record:

1) It contains some of the band's worst Spinal Tap moments. During the opening number, Highway Star, Blackmore ruins the instrumental buildup by not turning up; later in the song, he interrupts his solo to throw a glass of water at a cameraman who came too close to him. Blackmore was 48 years old at the time.

2) It has been released before, twice. The first release was the 1994 video, since reissued as a DVD, Come Hell or High Water, which includes the opening number. It has commentary on the incident from Gillan and bassist Roger Glover. With the video content and the context provided by the commentary, the incident is actually rather entertaining; we see the four members of the band who bothered to show up onstage working their guts out to compensate for the lack of Blackmore; keyboardist Jon Lord in particular performs heroically, dripping with sweat just one minute in. As the concert goes on from there, the band recover themselves musically and the second half of the concert is rather good although the tension of the first few minutes never quite goes away.
The second release of the concert is part of a boxed set, Live in Europe 1993, where it is bundled with another concert in Stuttgart. Again, putting the incident in context helps; but this live record suffers from a new mix that seems to be designed to make the album sound more like a bootleg. Pat Regan's original mix of the video and CD of Come Hell or High Water (the CD was compiled from both concerts) was perhaps sweetened a little too much, especially the drums; it was, however, a clear mix that preserves the live athmosphere. The mix on the separate release is presumably the same as that on the boxed set; however, the boxed set is comparatively cheaper, so if you must have bootleggy recordings of one of Deep Purple's most embarrassing moments, get that release instead.

By the way, I don't believe for a moment that BMG is releasing these records to "promote" the band's new tour. Deep Purple haven't been under contract with BMG for ten years, at least not in Europe; the current touring lineup is very different from that in 1993, and Live at the Birmingham NEC is unlikely to persuade many young people to come to see the current lineup. It's a cash-in that the musicians won't benefit much from at all. (via)

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