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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!