you were looking to find Deep Purple's spiritual home, then two
locations would vie for top billing. The first would be Hanwell
Community Centre, stuck in the midst of a huge between the wars
London housing estate. The second would be the altogether more
affluent and spectacularly sited town of Montreux, on the shores
of Lake Geneva. In the former, Deep Purple assembled in mid-1969,
to audition Ian Gillan and Roger Glover and begin work on "Deep
Purple In Rock". But it was in Montreux, just two years later,
that they wrote and recorded "Machine Head", one of the most influential
rock albums of all time.
release finally established the group as a top-line American draw
and ensured the band would be elevated to iconic status. It was
also in Montreux, on a wintry December day in 1971, that "some
stupid with a flare gun" torched the Casino where the group had
planned to set up their gear to record the album, and gave Ian
Gillan an idea for a song, a song which is now one of rock's international
anthems, but which began life back then as the distinctly unglamorous
backing track "Title No. 1".
five years later Deep Purple were back in Montreux to celebrate
that very song which, retitled "Smoke On The Water", documented
the events surrounding the making of the album. A lot of water,
smoke covered and otherwise, had passed under the bridge during
the intervening years. The band themselves disbanded in 1976,
had huge success with their own projects, then reformed in 1984.
a decade Deep Purple toured the globe to a whole new generation
of fans, before relations between Ian Gillan and Ritchie Blackmore
finally disintegrated once again both on-stage and off. Gillan
himself was briefly fired, then rehired, after which Blackmore
finally walked. Deep Purple were faced with the prospect (for
the second time in their career) of having to replace one of rock's
most enigmatic and talented guitarists.
Joe Satriani joined them on a short-term basis so they could finish
the 1993 tour, it was the talented American guitarist Steve Morse
who eventually got offered the gig on a permanent basis. Something
of a teenage guitar prodigy, Morse had led his own group since
college days, as well as working with Kansas. With Morse on board,
Deep Purple did some warm-up shows in far-away places during 1995
before recording their first album "Purpendicular" together, then
setting off on a lengthy world tour to promote it in February
1996 (I use the word lengthy advisedly, they were still on the
road three years later...).
I've been a fan of this band for over thirty five years, but they
really pushed themselves to the limit on this tour. With many
sceptical Blackmore fans in the crowds, it could have easily have
back-fired. Instead, liberated from the constraints imposed by
the man in black (who would often veto suggestions for set-changes),
everything was up for inclusion. Deep Purple threw caution to
the wind with a set which gathered new and old, mixing in some
off the wall classics which hadn't been heard in years - indeed,
some had never been done live before. The band were clearly rejuvenated,
and the good vibes on stage and in the audiences fed back into
the performances which grew in stature and power as the tour progressed.
the time they rolled into Montreux in July 1996 after six months
touring they were delivering a set which was chock full of jaw-dropping
musicianship. The group were in town to perform as part of the
long-established Montreux Jazz Festival, an event held in the
city since the mid-sixties and which has attracted top bands and
performers from all areas of popular music - jazz, blues, pop,
rock and world. The Deep Purple concert had sold out months before
and about the only downside for fans was that, as part of a festival
bill, the band had to play a slightly shortened set - all but
one song from which is included here.
They kick off with the rarely performed oldie "Fireball", a hit
for the group back in 1971 which they hadn't done onstage for
almost 25 years. The band further reassessed their back-catalogue
to revive other oldies including "Pictures Of Home" and "When
A Blind Man Cries" (from "Machine Head"), as well as "Black Night"
(their first European hit), "Woman From Tokyo" (from "Who Do We
Think We Are") and a blistering version of "Speed King". This
number typifies the tour in many ways; a classic track given new
life by the sheer enthusiasm with which they all pile into it.
New boy Steve Morse climbs alongside Jon Lord's keyboards and
the pair trade increasingly dizzying and complex speed riffs off
one another, to gasps from the pumped up crowd (and some of the
many ways though, it was the sheer quality of the new songs which
really gave this tour such strength and ensured that they had
a real future. "Purpendicular" was an album of depth and variety,
which they carried over into the live versions. "Ted The Mechanic"
finds Morse ripping through the backing as if he and his guitar
were both plugged in to the mains, and demonstrating his astonishing
virtuosity. "Hey Cisco" is the last of the new songs, kicking
like the proverbial mule, but still opening up to reveal the new
dynamics within the band. By the end of the set, the group are
on a high, laughing and busking their way through a clutch of
rock'n'roll oldies like "Not Fade Away", taped before most of
the crowd were born, as well as some lewd nursery ditties delivered
at break-neck speed by Gillan!
as they disappear the show still has surprises, as they unveil
their latest reinvention of "Smoke On The Water" for the encore.
Considering it's a track they've been obliged to perform for a
quarter of a century, they still manage to raise it to a new level
as Morse warps and twists his guitar before kicking into the riff.
Ian Paice is powering the track along, aided by Roger Glover's
rock steady bass. Lord's deceptively simple keyboard work holds
everything together, while Ian Gillan - close to exhaustion at
the sheer pace of it all - hands the microphone over to the crowd
to gain a breather.
they come to the end, festival organiser Claude Nobs himself (the
man who successfully rescued Purple's seemingly doomed recording
session in '71) is suddenly ushered onto the stage to the approval
of the crowd and the bemusement of Ian Gillan, who welcomes him
with the words "Long time no see!" Incidentally
it was Claude who came up with the idea of filming acts at the
festival decades ago, and built up a superb archive of shows which
is now being brought to a wider public by Eagle. The band were
later presented with medals of honour by the town Mayor to recognise
the publicity Deep Purple have brought to the town over the years,
while a special recreation of the 1971 fire - this time in fireworks
- closed the festival. From Montreux the band continued the tour,
which ran on through until 1999.
years after the 1996 show, the band were invited back to Montreux's
Stravinski Hall to headline the festival again in July 2000. The
two bonus tracks on this CD are taken from this later set, "Fools"
- one of the stand-out tracks from the "Fireball" album - was
reintroduced into their set just this year, while "Sometimes I
Feel Like Screaming" was another of the new album cuts. Both are
very polished performances indeed. The set also marked one of
the final Jon Lord performances, as he was to bow out of the group
the following year (albeit returning for some farewell shows in
the UK in 2002).
Hearing Deep Purple on disc when they play this well just makes
you want to get off the sofa and catch them live but even for
a band on the road as much as they are this isn't always possible,
and for those times when it isn't, this makes a great substitute."