Friday Full-Length: Deep Purple, Made in Japan

Posted in Bootleg Theater on April 7th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Deep Purple, Made in Japan (1972)

I don’t know that heavy rock live albums of its own or of any other era get much more essential that Deep Purple‘s Made in Japan. The only one I can think of that even comes close to the same echelon is Band of Gypsys, which also had the advantage of coming out two years earlier in 1970, but that’s a pivotal two years between the Jimi Hendrix release and the Deep Purple one. It could easily be argued that, whatever role Hendrix played in laying the foundation for it, the style of heavy rock that Mk. II Deep Purple played really took shape between 1970 and 1971, coming into its own around Purple, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath and so on even as the world mourned Hendrix‘s passing in Sept. 1970.

And what of the Sabbaths and the Zeppelins of the universe? Well, Black Sabbath‘s aptly-named Live at Last wouldn’t show up until 1980, and Led Zeppelin didn’t release The Song Remains the Same until 1976. Pink Floyd‘s genius-level concept Live at Pompeii came out in 1972, but it was more film than album, and had no audience. Made in Japan basically owned its moment, and though it starts out with a rigorously scorching if relatively straightforward rendition of “Highway Star,” its extended takes on the classics “Child in Time,” “Smoke on the Water,” “The Mule,” “Strange Kind of Woman,” “Lazy” and especially “Space Truckin'” continue to provide an insight into how the band worked in a way that nothing else could.

Of course, it’s about the performance and the players. You think just anyone could pull off a 12-minute “Child in Time?” Not a chance. But Deep Purple were at the arguable height of their powers in Aug. 1972, when Made in Japan was recorded over the course of three nights — two in Osaka, one in Tokyo. The all-allstar lineup of founding bassist Roger Glover, organist Jon Lord (R.I.P. 2012), drummer Ian Paice, guitarist Ritchie Blackmore and vocalist Ian Gillan had released Machine Head three months prior, which flubbed on its first single but nonetheless produced the band’s defining hit in “Smoke on the Water,” and after 1970’s In Rock and 1971’s Fireball (discussed here), it seemed that the band’s true artistic and commercial potential was realizing itself. I won’t take anything away from 1973’s Who Do We Think We Are, which would be the last studio outing Mk. II Purple would release until their 1984 reunion for Perfect Strangers, but Made in Japan captures them as close to in-their-moment as any live record possibly could.

Be that as it may, the prevailing sentiment one gets in listening to it is of ego. On stage for these songs, Deep Purple are as much about showcasing virtuosity as engaging their audience. “Highway Star” is the lead-in, but “Child in Time” indulges a long and flowing drama of vocal and guitar acrobatics, Blackmore and Gillan almost competing to be the standout performer. “Smoke on the Water” makes a good case for Blackmore in that role, though it’s Paice who gets the solo in “The Mule,” which like the subsequent “Strange Kind of Woman” is brought to nearly 10 minutes. If there’s any point at which Made in Japan goes over the top, that might be it, if only because they treat a song about soliciting prostitutes like it’s Mozart, but as they do with “The Mule,” with “Child in Time,” with the shuffling “Lazy” and with “Space Truckin'” still to come, Deep Purple make it hold up.

That is, the ego — all that ego, which I think even the band at this point is willing to acknowledge as the reason this lineup didn’t last much more than another year, despite having produced such landmark output — is justified. Is Made in Japan overblown? Absolutely. Yes. But the self-indulgence becomes part of the appeal, and even as “Strange Kind of Woman” meanders into guitar noodling, one can hear the audience clapping along. And the blues jam at the start of “Lazy” brims with the kind of fluidity and chemistry that is perhaps the best example on this record of what made this incarnation of Deep Purple so special. To have them then follow that up by taking one of their best hooks, for “Space Truckin’,” and taffy-pull it into this massive sprawl — holy shit, Jon Lord‘s keys — and put it to a big rock finish that would make even Manowar blush? Come on.

Their mark on heavy rock, and rock in general, is indelible, and while Made in Japan isn’t in itself the reason for that, it’s certainly the line that underscores the point.

As always, I hope you enjoy.

Maybe you saw I posted on the social medias or maybe you didn’t, but Echoes and Dust was kind enough to ask me about three records that have influenced my life and my picks were posted earlier this week. Thank you to Sander van den Driesche for caring enough to ask. I was deeply flattered.

Unlike last week, I did not take today off from work. Looks like a lot of people did though, so the office is relatively quiet. Remind me to tell you sometime about what a huge proponent I am of the four-day work week. Four on, three off. Should be four off, three on, but I’d take a three-day weekend every time out and call it progress. Which it would be. Working five days a week. Soul-swallowing.

Nonetheless, this week wasn’t quite as unbearable as last week was, and by that I mostly mean that it seemed to go by quicker. I’ve been pretty beat the last couple days, but even so, the hours moved. Last week, everything sat still. I’ll get out of here in a little bit — going to even cut out a couple minutes early since I got here early — and go home and have lunch and see if I can watch some baseball and hang out with The Patient Mrs. if she gets home from a meeting at work at any reasonable time. Plan is to grill later if the weather holds — very much a springtime notion — and then tomorrow meet my family for an early dinner in Connecticut, essentially halfway between where they are in NJ and where we are in Massachusetts, and also just so happens to be where The Patient Mrs.’ family is, so we’ll see them as well. Always a marathon, but good. I’ve got Sunday to recover.

And while I do that, coffee ritual and plenty of writing to do. Today was absolutely packed. Single announcement, video premiere, album review, video premiere, album announcement, track premiere and this? Yeah, that was like three days of work right there. But Monday’s got plenty going on too, as does the rest of next week. The notes (subject to change) look like this:

MON.: Radio Adds, maybe a Stubb track premiere, otherwise Hollow Leg video and Fuzz Evil video.
TUE.: Spidergawd album review and a stream for a sampler of RidingEasy’s new Brown Acid compilation.
WED.: T.G. Olson album review, Six Dumb Questions with Forming the Void, and Doublestone video premiere.
THU.: Brume track premiere and album review; video premiere for Sea.
FRI.: The Sonic Dawn review/full stream; track premiere for the new Avon single.

There’s of course a backlog of news and other stuff slated in there as well, so yeah. My head’s pretty much spinning from now until Roadburn hits in two weeks. Funny to think of staying up until six in the morning to write and working on the Weirdo Canyon Dispatch ‘zine over there as a respite, but I think by the time I get to Tilburg it might actually be one.

Because compulsion!

Oh hey, we went to war again this week and the US Senate took its toys and moved just a little bit further away from being any kind of democratic legislative body — as opposed to the House, which long ago gave up that ghost — but yeah. Super. It’s a super world.

Whether or not institutions and long-held political conventions — not to mention international law — are breaking down all around us, I hope you have a great and safe weekend, wherever you might be and whatever mischief you might be up to. Have fun, watch your ass, and come back Monday for more good times, having thoroughly checked out the forum and radio stream in the meantime.

The Obelisk Forum

The Obelisk Radio

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Cortez Post Cover of Deep Purple’s “Stormbringer”

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 15th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

A subdued several months from Allston, Massachusetts, five-piece Cortez comes to a close with a cover of the Ritchie Blackmore/David Coverdale-penned opening title-track to Deep Purple‘s 1974 album, Stormbringer. The heavy rockers announced back in September that their new album, The Depths Below, was mastered and in the can, ready to roll, and basically since then all has been quiet at least on the surface. One assumes that means the band are in the process of securing a release for the record, which follows their 2012 self-titled debut (review here) and a subsequent 2014 split with Borracho (review here), but a check-in single in the interim is welcome nonetheless.

Plus, it’s not like “Stormbringer” is a lazy song to take on. Mark III Deep Purple had both Coverdale and bassist Glenn Hughes on vocals, as well as Ritchie Blackmore on guitar, Ian Paice on drums and Jon Lord on keys, and on any level you want to consider, that’s a formidable standard to set. They’re not the first ones to make the track their own, but they cut to the heavy core of the song and let their own performance shine through, which I’m glad to say it does. The track remains one you could do a lot worse than to have stuck in your head all day, so have at it. The download is free.

The band also offered assurances that The Depths Below was on its way:

cortez (Photo by Bruce Bettis)

Hey folks, we’re aware that things have been quiet in the Cortez camp lately. We assure you that our newest album “The Depths Below” IS indeed complete and will be released sometime in the not too distant future.

As a little teaser, we recorded a cover of the classic Coverdale/Hughes era Deep Purple track Stormbringer (written by Blackmore, Coverdale) with Benny Grotto – Producer/Recordist/Mixer/Musician at Q Division Studios, Mad Oak Studios, and Moontower Recording Studio. Jeff Lipton at Peerless Mastering did the mastering. The track is now live on our Bandcamp and Soundcloud pages for free. We sincerely hope ya dig it, and if you do please share it!

https://cortezboston.bandcamp.com/track/stormbringer
https://soundcloud.com/cortezboston/cortez-stormbringer-deep-purple-coverwav/s-B0BTp

https://www.facebook.com/cortezboston
http://www.cortezboston.com/
http://cortezboston.bandcamp.com/
http://www.twitter.com/cortezboston

Cortez, “Stormbringer” (Deep Purple cover)

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Friday Full-Length: Deep Purple, Fireball

Posted in Bootleg Theater on May 2nd, 2014 by JJ Koczan

Deep Purple, Fireball (1971)

One of the biggest bummers — apart from how much Ian Gillan and Ritchie Blackmore frickin’ hate each other — in the Deep Purple documentary about the Machine Head album (discussed here) was when the ultra-pivotal classic rockers were talking about coming off the Fireball album and how it was a disappointment and blah blah blah. Screw that, I love this record. Yeah, Machine Head has “Pictures of Home” and “Space Truckin'” and the rest, and Deep Purple In Rock was balls-out perfection, but Fireball doesn’t sound like either of them. It’s weird, its cover is weird. Some of the songs come completely out of nowhere — looking at you, “Anyone’s Daughter” — but when it decides to do so, it still kicks into high-gear driving heavy rock and roll, as on the opener “Fireball.”

But that’s not all it does, either. I feel like Deep Purple In Rock, as killer as it is, basically has its straight-ahead rush going for it. Fireball‘s more diverse all around. Take “Demon’s Eye” or “Fools.” Both have these slamming badass grooves to them, starts and stops from Blackmore and of course plenty of swing in Roger Glover‘s bass and Ian Paice‘s drums with Jon Lord’s keys as a defining factor. Gillan‘s vocals don’t soar as much as elsewhere in the Deep Purple canon, but he’s got grit, he sounds human, and that they cap the record with “No One Came” — basically turning the whole idea of being a rock star on its head — only furthers the humility in the record. It’s never going to have the legacy of Machine Head and its never going to blast like In Rock, but I’ll take Fireball any day as a worthy inclusion in Deep Purple‘s least fuckwithable era.

Whatever else it is, it’s not a record that needs much selling from me. If you haven’t heard it in a while, if you’re well familiar or if you never bothered to check it out, hope you enjoy.

Tomorrow is the first day of The Eye of the Stoned Goat 4 in Worcester, Mass. That’s about an hour from me, which will make it the closest festival I’ve ever gone to. Really. I’ve never been to a fest within an hour of where I’ve lived. Even when I went to the NJ Metalfest in 2003 in Irvington to see Negative Reaction for the first of many times, it took me longer to get there. And while I’m looking forward to the commute, I’m probably looking forward to the bands more. I don’t think I’ll do live coverage, just because I want to be able to relax a little bit, but I’ll take notes and have writeups of the two days on Monday and Tuesday next week.

Also on Monday, look out for a Karma to Burn video premiere.

And Wednesday, a full-album stream and interview from The Golden Grass.

I said last Friday I was going to review Bigelf and Electric Citizen this week and I didn’t do either of them (I did get to Comet Control). With the Electric Citizen single, time was limited and I went with what I had a physical copy of, and for the Bigelf, I just wasn’t feeling it when I put it on. Very well put together album, very crisp production, very clear in its Beatles and Floyd influence, and of course having Mike Portnoy on drums is going to pull some attention automatically. I’ve dug Bigelf‘s stuff in the past as well, this one just didn’t hit me right. Maybe I’ll put it on again this week and feel differently, though it’s also my intent to review the new Swans this coming week and I expect that will take a up a goodly portion of my consciousness.

I’m also way overdue on making a new podcast. I don’t currently have a working version of the program I use for audio editing (SoundForge; I’m sorry but in all my experience Audacity is crap), but I’ll continue to try to find one and will get something going as soon as I can. Don’t know if anybody’s day really depends on that one way or the other, but I like to at least be consistent where and when I’m able.

Should you be headed to the Stoned Goat fest (Thee Facebooks event page here), I’ll be the dingus with the long hair and the beard taking pictures up front, and either way, I hope you have a great and safe weekend. Hope you dig the Deep Purple and please check out the forum and radio stream.

The Obelisk Forum

The Obelisk Radio

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Deep Purple Post Teaser Trailer for New Album

Posted in Bootleg Theater on January 10th, 2013 by JJ Koczan

I bet they’re gonna call the album Question Mark or something like that. I only say it because this is the second press release to mention that the title is a question mark and they haven’t figured it out yet. Whatever. A new Deep Purple record, however they decide to title it, should be fascinating, and name-dropping the ’70s in the pre-album hype is at least an interesting move however appropriate it may or may not turn out to be once the actual thing arrives.

If the minute-long teaser followed by PR wire info below is anything to go by, sounds proggy. Dig it:

Deep Purple Release Teaser For Upcoming New Album

Deep Purple have released the following video teaser for their upcoming as-yet-untitled new studio album, to be released stateside April 30, 2013 via earMusic/Eagle Rock Entertainment. Recorded and mixed in Nashville with famed producer Bob Ezrin  (Pink Floyd’s The Wall, Alice Cooper), this is Deep Purple’s first new album in eight years. Blending the spirit of the band’s 70s sound with modern production, the album promises to be a poignant mix of rock’s classic era and a progressive mindset.

“The title of our new album is still a question mark to all of us,” states vocalist Ian Gillan. “We have recorded a new album, and it’s a fantastic collection of songs. At the moment that’s the only affirmative point we can offer…”

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Full-Length Friday: Deep Purple’s Machine Head Classic Albums Documentary

Posted in Bootleg Theater on January 4th, 2013 by JJ Koczan

Deep Purple‘s Machine Head Classic Albums documentary isn’t quite as much of a classic as the album itself, but it’s getting there. Whatever else may fall to either side, this is one thing you can genuinely say Deep Purple did better than Black Sabbath, whose Paranoid Classic Albums DVD paled in comparison to Machine Head. From Ian Gillan trying to intellectualize lyrics about banging whores to Ritchie Blackmore taking us deep inside the fingering technique of “Smoke on the Water” in his castle, to Roger Glover, well, being awesome, if you look at it on the level of Monty Python-esque absurdity, it’s even more fun to watch.

With a new Deep Purple record on the way this April (the countdown is on), and the fact that the tracks on Machine Head rule blah blah blah, I figured it’d be a fun and a bit of a different way to end the week. I’m still a bit under the weather, but was back at the office today unlike yesterday, when I worked from home. My understanding though is I’m not the only one sick. That time of year around these parts.

By way of a last-minute plug, if you’re in Philly, you should go to Clamfight‘s CD release party tonight at Kung Fu Necktie. They’ve got copies of I vs. the Glacier that they’re selling on the cheap, and Kings Destroy will also be there, playing material off their forthcoming album, which I don’t think I’m allowed to say the title of yet so I won’t. Anyway, it’s a great show, if I could be there, I would, and you should go an tell me about it later so I can live vicariously through your exploits.

Fun stuff to come next week. We’re about a hair away from another reviewsplosion as I continue to feel overwhelmed by the pile of stuff waiting to be written up, but in the meantime, we’ll do another Duuude, Tapes!, I was gifted a very special piece of Buried Treasure this week and I’ll write on that, and we’ll have more updates as the Clamfight presales get ready to go out, plus reviews of Wheelfall, Fire to Fields and others. I’ll also be updating The Obelisk Radio through the weekend, so keep your eye out for new adds there and we’ll have a new Add of the Week next week and more good fun to come.

As for tonight, it’s my mother’s birthday, so family times abound and I plan on dedicating as much time as possible over the next couple days to recuperation, and by that I mean staying in my pajamas, listening to records and playing Final Fantasy IV on The Patient Mrs. iPad. I don’t have a vision of Utopia, but if I did, that might be it.

Whatever your plans or health status, I hope you have a great and safe weekend. I’ll be checking in on the forum too and hope to see you there  — talk just started about the forthcoming Clutch record, so that rules — and we’ll be back here as usual on Monday, sinus congestion or no.

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Deep Purple to Release New Album in 2013

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 13th, 2012 by JJ Koczan

It would seem the countdown is on to the release of the first Deep Purple studio album in the better part of a decade. The actual counter the band has launched on their new website (pictured below) is a pretty good indicator, I guess. Don Airey, Roger Glover, Ian Gillan, Steve Morse and Ian Paice toured this past summer, taking the hits on the road in North America with an orchestra in tow, and they seemed in good spirits, so hopefully that carries into the record as well, which I’m sure will be hailed by Deep Purple fanatics as the best thing ever since the last one and largely ignored by everyone else because Ritchie Blackmore isn’t on it. So it goes.

This off the PR wire:

DEEP PURPLE CONFIRM NEW STUDIO ALBUM IN APRIL

“The title of our new album is still a question mark to all of us… We have recorded a new album, and it’s a fantastic collection of songs. At the moment that’s the only affirmative point we can offer…”
(Ian Gillan, December 2012)

Eight years after the release of “Rapture Of The Deep”, following many rumours later revealed to be unfounded, Deep Purple, one of the most important and influential British rock bands of all time, have confirmed the release of a new album completely made of new studio material. This yet-to-be-titled album will be released stateside on April 30, 2013.

After various songwriting sessions in Europe, the band recorded and mixed the album in Nashville with producer Bob Ezrin (in his impressive hit record: Pink Floyd’s “The Wall”, Alice Cooper and many others).

The album is rumoured to be the perfect match from the original spirit of 70s Purple, and a fresh and modern production.
Ian Gillan has recently revealed a few working titles of songs that might appear on the album: “Out Of Hands”, “Uncommon Man” and “Hell to Pay”.

Deep Purple’s record company earMUSIC will reveal details about the new album in real time as soon as they will become available on a dedicated website where all band members will also be able to post and interact with the fans: www.deeppurple2013.com

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R.I.P. Jon Lord 1941-2012

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 16th, 2012 by JJ Koczan

He collaborated with entire symphonies throughout his career and oversaw numerous solo outings and projects, but Jon Lord will always be remembered most for what he added to British rock heavyweights Deep Purple. It’s been reported that Lord died today, July 16, following a pulmonary embolism and a long fight with pancreatic cancer. He had turned 71 last month.

As the organist for Deep Purple, he was among the main distinguishing factors of the band. In a crowded and still just burgeoning heavy rock scene, his Hammond organ became their signature. Until he retired in 2002, he was a constant in an ever-changing lineup, and his influence can still be heard around the world today — not to mention Deep Purple‘s work itself, the appeal of which has only grown with time.

On behalf of myself and The Obelisk, condolences to Jon Lord‘s friends and family and to Deep Purple fans everywhere.

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Frydeep Purple Mk. II

Posted in Bootleg Theater on June 30th, 2012 by JJ Koczan

A hearty “damn you all” to the members of Mark II Deep Purple, mostly for putting out this awesome album and then consciously refusing to do anything else nearly as awesome. Though I like Fireball a lot, and it’s “Space Truckin'” from Machine Head that’s been stuck in my head all night, so I guess In Rock ain’t totally the shit, though you’d never know it listening to “Speed King.” Fucking song is righteous in the most religious sense of the word.

I was supposed to go to Brooklyn tonight to see Drew Mack‘s last show with Hull. Why I didn’t go is a more complicated situation than I really feel like typing out as we approach one in the morning and I wrap up my umpteenth and apparently final beer of the night, but Arzgarth‘s words of wisdom on the forum were a source of inspiration worth mentioning. Aside from that, it has to do with a trip to Long Island tomorrow, driving here and there and back again and all around, and me being old and lame. There. I guess that’s the whole story.

Anyhoozle, if you went to the Hull show, I hope you had a great time. The evening tonight I spent mostly in the back yard. I had some quality one-on-one time with one of the oldest friends I have (rare in these wifely days), and drank a not insignificant amount of bottled brews — a sixer of Bells Amber Ale that I brought back from Michigan and then some — while eating local-type pizza and listening to the Yankees lose on the radio. It was a good time, wrapped up by watching Super Troopers on the tv and, finally, putting on the Deep Purple album to which you’re hopefully now listening.

Thanks to everyone who downloaded the podcast. If you missed it, the podcast I’m talking about is here. I guess 76 times in less than a week isn’t bad, but still, I’d take more if more was an option. Whatever. The day’s worth of work I put into it and I hope you dig it. As for the rest of this week, it was a fitting amount of madness. Well, fitting in the way size 26 pants are fitting — which is to say not at all — but so it goes. I’ll crash out in a couple minutes, either having or not outlasted this Jon Lord organ solo, and that will be that. No frickin’ regrets.

Next week, my interview with Tommi Holappa of Greenleaf goes up, as well as a Buried Treasure on the last Argus record and whatever else I can think to review. It’ll be July, so we’ll do the June numbers, and I’ve got feelers out on a giveaway/album stream that I’m not yet at liberty to reveal, but it’s worth staying tuned to find out what it is and if it comes together. I guess that’s the best I can say about it at this point.

Hope you have a great and safe weekend. I’ll see you on the forum and back here just as soon as the ibuprofen kicks in. Monday sounds about right.

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