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It probably took me a couple years before I really appreciated what was being fed to me with this record; before I knew what it took to make a great live record. Deep Purple's Made In Japan has an X factor that even my favorite record, Unleashed In The East didn't touch too much on, and that is the embellishment.
Only a group that contains Ritchie Blackmore, the greatest guitarist to ever live, and Jon Lord, the greatest keyboard/pianist to ever live could bust out such a beast in such an early year for heavy metal. Seeing that it clocks in nearly an hour and twenty minutes, yet only contains seven tracks is some kind of magic that few could pull off, and this all lies in the ability to stretch out songs to the longest extent, yet not go dry. For starters, I couldn't have picked a better setlist for this, unless there was room to add more; and the performance is spectacular! Take my favorite song by them, "Strange Kind Of Woman", and make that thirty second solo that's tacked onto the end and add three minutes to it. Pretty impressive right? Hell, at this point you may as well add three MORE minutes to it by testing Ian Gillan's vocal range by stacking up Ritchie's guitar screams with it. Absolutely incredible. You know that popular song, "Highway Star", with one of the greatest electric organ solos ever? Yeah, let's add even more complexity and shake the venue with the amount of power invested in this track on the live version. Or perhaps the way that they over-amplify the keyboards on "Lazy", and shred out even more solos between the two Gods, just taking turns busting out melodic yet crazy solos? That, my friends, is how you perform a song live, double its length, and not let it go stale. The whole experience makes you feel like you're right there with them in 1972, and feeling the same thing everyone in that venue got back then. Though Roger Glover and Ian Paice don't take the front as much as the rest, their contributions are very necessary, and put the icing on the cake. They do a great job of filling in the cracks by shining with their talents up on the stage with seldom but great solo work.
Now, why did I have to be the asshole to ruin the "100%" streak that this record had? Well, it loses two points because they bite off more than they can chew with "Space Truckin'". This is my second favorite Deep Purple song, and the performance is great, and even the extra add ons here are pretty sweet... for the first four or five minutes of it. Had it stopped there like with the other tracks, it'd be perfect. But they drag it out for twenty minutes, and it starts to sound like they're just screwing around with said instruments at this point. That ten minute chunk could have been used for another track or two (probably only one, seeing the formula here). I would have loved to hear "Speed King", "Black Night", or the soft ballad "Anyone's Daughter". But other than the overkilled drag-out of this song, the record is flawless. The Blackmore-Lord duo is basically unstoppable when together, and Gillan's amazing rage is like a bonus to your paycheck. It's a shame that this lineup didn't workout much longer.
Legend says that, during the finale of Child in Time's performance, a man decided to take his own life. There are two possible interpretations for this: He felt shame while he was listening crappy music or the exact opposite, he felt that after this, nothing could reach such a level of gorgeousness. My guess is that probably it's about the second option.
But, seriously talking, the point is this: what makes this album so bright, great and landmarker of what would come next in staging?
It's a difficult question and I won't refute the possibility that perhaps there is no good answer for it. And when there is no answer for explaining an event, yes, this thing is in the supernatural territories. Likewise, Made in Japan by that monstrous band, pioneer of metal music (alongside Black Sabbath), known as Deep Purple, is a record beyond human understanding. The only thing for sure is that nothing in the newborn world of heavy metal would be the same after this. If you have any doubt about DP and his belongings in the Metal Archives, this albun alone should fade them away. Those five classic-virtuoso guys planted the seed of the genre and gave the genetic information for the future generations to come. BS and DP sounded metal/protometal in their studios, but guys from Deep Purple had a plus: they were heavy metal PERFORMERS.
What would be heavy metal without melting away all the strings of the guitar? Pumping the keyboard til it breaks? Singing in every possible range available for the human throat? Firescorching the bass and the drums til everything burns out? A paradoxic answer would be... ¿hard rock?. Yeah. That's the difference between those genres (besides of the sound, riffing and beating style, of course). You cannot be a heavy metal band without being a gigantic force over the stage. While that overrated pop-rock band known as Led Zeppelin believed that they were the wise masters of the cosmic beyond and were doing stupid things in stage (that can be noted in DVD's and with the exception of John Bonham, who was a brilliant player) magnified by massive propaganda by people who knows nothing about metal, Tony Iommi started to figure out that Black Sabbath needed to improve their metal performances on stage (around 1973... ¿coincidence?) and figured out, slowly, that Ozzy Osbourne was not the guy for that.
But anyway, let's talk about magic, that would be Made in Japan.
The opening is so speed/power metal. Highway Star melt the irons and bangs every head around. Gillan singing was at his best ever. Nothing was impossible for him. The String Sorcerer alongside Maestro Lord was able to drive insane every people around only by playing a single note on his instrument. Paice and Glover reached the climax in the collaborative endeavor of providing the beat and rythm. Same happens with epic/progressive number known as Child in Time. Gillan slashes, Blackmore slashes, Lord Slashes, Paice and Glover slashes. Period.
The most known version of the most known riff in the history of metal (and even rock music) is from this album and even there we can listen to Blackmore trying to improvisate something. But this version of Smoke on the Water has some extra points by the keyboarding of Lord, which goes beyond usual reach. Is brilliant.
The Mule is from the underrated studio album Fireball. And, let's say, is one of the masterpieces of DP, specially if we can get some live performances like in Made in Japan. Ian Paice evolves to the metal god level (actually, all guys from DP MK II are metal gods) with such an inspired drumming. If you like to beat the hollows, listen to this. It might change your life. Strange Kind of Woman is always a blessing. Blackmore and Gillan have an ironic guitar-vocal battle there to be forever reminded. I love that song, actually.
Then Lazy and Space Truckin' to close the first part. Both are masterpieces from Machine Head (that means they are very known) and besides their known qualities, they give us a couple of beautiful and unforgettable improvisations and jams.
But when you were starting to think that nothing could be better than this, DP gives us the encores! Black Night, Speed King and a huge cover of Al Collins's Lucille. Dude, this is pure magic. Is impossible to know how they did it, what was into Blackmore, Lord, Paice, Glover and Gillan for doing such a masterpiece. There is no answer for this album. It's simply a masterpiece. Have it or die, dude.
Deep Purple is my favourite band of all time. Of course, I go through listening phases. At times my brain will demand heavier music and I'll suddenly love thrash or something (Megadeth), and I've always loved Iron Maiden and Judas Priest, they're my other favourites, but Deep Purple always pull me back. And the first CD I listen to when I rediscover Deep Purple (for the umpteenth time)? Yep, it's Made In Japan. Why? Because it's the best rock record, certainly the best live record, ever. And not many people dispute that (the latter statement at least)
Deep Purple have always seemed to me a band that was underrated, since their most famous song (Smoke on the Water) is actually nowhere near their best song. They had great songs from all eras of the band, but the only era that gained even remote commercial recognition was the Mk2 lineup. The other lineups have been routinely shunned by the press, and some even by the fans (JLT era). Apart from the aforementioned JLT era, I'd say that every single DP era had something great to offer, but that doesn't change this being THE essential DP release. I don't mean to be predictable, but this really is that good.
The show starts off with 'Highway Star'. Now this will rock your proverbial socks off if you don't hate rock music. I don't know one Hard Rock lover who can deny the sheer power of this song, and it was the song that made me love Rock music. Great musicianship from every band member. I remember going into my dad's study and he would play me this song on his record player. My first musical experience was the band that got a guiness world record for loudest concert ever! Thank you!
The next song is the beautiful 'Child In Time'. This is a really emotive piece, the keyboards at the start are really effective, and then Gillan sings so quietly 'sweet child in time, you'll see the line...' But nothing prepared you for this vocal performance. You'll just have to listen to it to believe it. Gillan in his prime was truly incredible. Some amazing solo work by guitarist Ritchie Blackmore later on in the song. The first time on this record that Gillan's vocals reached superhuman status.
Up next is our national anthem, 'Smoke on the Water'. As i said, this song is given far too much media attention from people who don't know DP, but it's still a great song. Blackmore's solo far eclipses his studio version. It's a brilliant song, done perfectly.
'The Mule' follows, basically a vehicle for Ian Paice's drum solo. I don't especially love drum solos, but this one clearly shows Paicey's great sense of rhythm and technical prowess.
'Strange Kind Of Woman' would be on the first side of the 2LP version, and you would miss out a second of the guitar intro to the song, but here, it leads on from the previous song, and adds to the experience without changing the classic mix of the original album. The middle section is crazy, I just love it. Ritchie plays a lick on his guitar and Gillan copies it, repeats it, then vice versa. This is the second point on the record that Gillan's vocals reached superhuman status.
Next up is 'Lazy', a great jazz-y blues-y kinda song, with an amazing organ intro by the man Jon Lord. A great bluesy lick from Blackmore, and the rest of the band rock out too. Gillan's vocals come in quite late, and they are very effective. When he screams, this makes the third time that the vocals reach superhuman status.
Last song on the original album is 'Space Truckin'', a rocking song with an amazing bit tagged on to the end, which lasts at least 10 minutes after the original song has finished. It is amazing, and a highlight of the album. Shame then, that some people consider it a downside to the album. The instrumental section at the end is amazing. Gillan's vocals are incredible, and at the end of the show, too. Jon Lord shows how good he is here.
The three extra songs on the album, Black Night, Speed King, and Lucille, though not great, a nice addition, but can't touch the quality of the original performance on the first disc. Well, no Purple is bad Purple!
All in all a great album for rock lovers, for heavy metal lovers (this is where heavy metal started, even though the music is not strictly speaking metal, it's blues- and classical-influenced hard rock), for guitar lovers (Ritchie is divine), for lovers of good singing (Gillan is unbelievably good), for bassists (Roger Glover's basslines are very technical and intricate). For keyboard and organ lovers, Jon Lord is the man. He really adds a texture to the songs. And lastly, the precision of Ian Paice is incredible. And you can feel he's enjoying being on stage and that his heart is really into it when he does those rolls, especially at the end of Space Truckin and during the Guitar-Vocals duel in Strange Kind of Woman. This is the best live album ever, from a time when rock music was played LOUD! Buy it and play it LOUD and tell me you don't love Deep Purple!
Reading the previous review, and it hit me that I was thinking the same thing about this album! Fucking weird. Anyhow, I've never been into Deep Purple much since their studio albums are.. quite boring. But this can be compared to 'Unleashed in the east', just as David says, just because it is a live album above all other live albums, so to say.
I never even got this one until just recently, I knew it was a kind of legendary album but never really tried it. So a couple of weeks ago I traded some crap albums for this with a friend of mine, I thought 'what the heck it could be cool to own' and I couldn't have been more right. As soon as I got to hear it I was like "wtf! is it really normal to do live albums like this??"
Okay first of all the dullness of the studio efforts is gone and some songs are made into long and improvised versions which always is a kick to listen to. And then there's the timeless rock classics "Smoke on the water" (but even in that one Blackmore improvises a little on the riff in the beginning) and "Highway star".