Release Date: 09 March 2015
Format: LP Double Vinyl
|Deep Purple Long Beach 1971 Limited Vinyl 2LP Set
Welcome to Long Beach 1971, the latest album in earMUSIC’s Deep Purple reissue series that, over the last two years, has seen the release of rare live material from the band, including “Stockholm 1970”, “Paris 1975” and “Graz 1975”.
It was recorded at Long Beach Arena in Long Beach, California, on July 30, 1971, and was broadcast on radio (KUSE 91.5 FM), a showcase for a support performance to Rod Stewart and The Faces. An official release for a concert that has long been considered a landmark for the band, the set featured tracks (“Speed King” and “Child In Time”) from their fourth studio album, June 1970’s Deep Purple “In Rock”. This was a transitional release for the Mk II version of the band, being their first hard rock affair as well as their commercial breakthrough as the third leading über-rock band of the day along with Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin. Completing the set that day were a considerably extended version of “Mandrake Root” from their July 1968 debut album “Shades Of Deep Purple”, and “Strange Kind Of Woman”, the follow-up single to “Black Night” from February 1971 (and an album track from the US iteration of July 1971’s “Fireball” LP).
An 11-minute “Speed King” opens proceedings here. It actually starts off like a climax, with a frenzy of organ and batter of guitar and drums, before segueing into a fast and furious riff and some classic caterwauls from Ian Gillan. At three minutes the track settles into an improvisatory middle section, the Roger Glover/Ian Paice rhythm section laying down a solid bedrock, providing the launch-pad for Jon Lord and Ritchie Blackmore’s flights of fancy. First the music goes quiet to make way for a Lord organ solo, and then a Blackmore free-association, the guitarist making few excuses as he caresses the heavens. Then the organ and guitar mimic each other; really, it’s more of a duel, Blackmore vs Lord, equal parts jazzy improv and battle for virtuosic supremacy. At six minutes the track erupts into a orgy of guitar, bass and drums, after which Gillan decides to impersonate the wail of the guitar, almost scat-singing.
Next up is, Gillan explains, a recent track, “Strange Kind Of Woman”, an “extraordinary” story, as the singer puts it, “about a prostitute and a friend of ours”, a woman whose “name was Nancy / her face [was] nothing fancy”. The piledriving central motif is a classic combination of rhythm and riff, the band hitting a bluesy, even funky, groove. Gillan, wanting a piece of the instrumental action, again uses his voice to mimic the teetering, trebly high notes of an electric guitar.
“Child in Time” is 20 minutes of heavy action from Blackmore. At the 10-minute mark Lord’s fingers move at dizzying speed and you can’t imagine anything more slickly proficient; then Blackmore steps up for feats that frankly boggle the ears. If you’re not too exhausted by that, there is time for one more, and it’s a good - not to mention long - one: “Mandrake Root”, a 27-minute extrapolation of the debut album track and concert standby. The opening riff is pure Jimi Hendrix circa Foxy Lady. Thereafter, expect plenty of cunning improvisation, and sections where the band head off in all sorts of unknown directions and down all manner of unexpected backwaters. There is a brief interlude where Blackmore’s guitar does an impression of the rotor blades of a helicopter landing in a jungle war zone. About 19 minutes in, it sounds as though the band are threatening to start playing the intro to “Highway Star”. The whole thing climaxes with some unearthly squeals and unholy feedback reminiscent of machine gun attack courtesy of Mr Blackmore, and some pulverising artillery fi re from Paice. Gillan thanks everyone for listening, leaving the audience staggered, and not a little dazed, as they head towards the exit, into the warm California night, wondering what the hell just happened. Deep Purple live just happened.
1. Speed King
2. Strange Kind Of Woman
1. Child In Time
2. Mandrake Root