Eight years ago, Eagle Rock Entertainment released to DVD what has gone on to become one of a handful of iconic performances from legendary British hard rock band Deep Purple. The concert in question was the band’s performance at the 1974 California Jam. Last month, Eagle Rock finally followed up that recording with the DVD’s audio only companion on CD. The DVD half of this recording is probably out of print at the time of this review. So it’s nice to see the classic archived concert’s return. The band only performs seven songs in its set here. But that’s no loss considering how rich each song proves to be. The performance by the band is just as impressive as the set list chosen for the show. And while the audio mix starts out rather muddy, it does get better. This factor is just as important as anything else to note as the alleged history behind the audio mix has its own story. The history behind the audio mix and the audio mix set alongside the band’s performance and its set list serve to make this archived live recording worth at least one listen.
Deep Purple’s set at its 1974 California Jam consisted of only seven songs. That might not seem like much. But the songs included in the set and the set’s near ninety-minute run time make the set list rather impressive to say the least. Over the course of the band’s nearly ninety-minute set, the members of Deep Purple put on what was one of the best performances of the entire California Jam Festival that year. David Coverdale was handling vocal duties for the band at the time of the concert. And he put on a virtual clinic throughout the show, hitting notes that no man should seemingly be able to hit. His ability to those high notes and mid-range notes even puts to shame the likes of Led Zeppelin front man Robert Plant and even Bruce Dickinson (Iron Maiden), James LaBrie (Dream Theater) and so many other pure singers past and present. Richie Blackmore (guitars) and Ian Paice (drums) both get their moment to shine throughout the show, too. Whether in their solo moments or as part of the whole, Paice and Blackmore prove throughout the show just why they are still among the most respected musicians in their respective fields even today even four decades after that iconic performance was recorded.
Deep Purple spent nearly ninety-minutes wowing audiences in attendance with the band’s fan friendly set list. The band’s members, as already noted, more than exhibit their talents time and again throughout the course of the concert. By direct connection, the band’s overall performance impresses, too. The band keeps the energy up throughout the course of the show, keeping the audience at a fever pitch from start to finish. Even on the slightly more reserved, bluesy ‘Mistreated’ The band somehow maintains a certain level of power. It actually rivals any blues-rock based song performed by fellow Brit-rockers The Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin. Audiences will hear and feel that energy for themselves when they check out this live recording, too.
Both the performance by the members of Deep Purple at this concert and the band’s set list hold equal importance to the overall enjoyment of this latest live DP release from Eagle Rock Entertainment. There is still one more factor to consider in the recording’s overall enjoyment to investigate. That final factor is the concert’s audio mix. There is no getting around the fact that the concert’s audio mix starts out rather muddy. Guitarist Richie Blackmore overpowers David Coverdale’s vocals rather blatantly throughout ‘Burn’ and even ‘Might Just Take Your Life.’ But it does get better as the near ninety-minute concert progresses. In defense of Eagle Rock Entertainment, there is a story that alleges Blackmore went to the individual running the audio board for the band’s performance and essentially told him to put more emphasis on his [Blackmore’s] part than on anyone else. There’s no telling if there is any truth to this story. But if there is, it would most definitely explain why the audio mix sounds so messy early on. Luckily, that muddiness doesn’t last too long. It gets better as the concert progresses. Audiences can hear the different parts level out more as the show progresses. And because the audio mix does clear up and balance out, it makes the show much easier on the ears (as if the set list and performance together aren’t already easy on the ears to begin with). That ease on listeners’ ears alongside the set list and performance by the band all come together to make this recording one worth at least one watch by both classic rock fans and fans of Deep Purple.
Deep Purple: Live in California ’74 is available now in stores and online. It can be ordered direct via Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Cal-Jam-1974-Deep-Purple/dp/B00IAR2DG4/ref=sr_1_2?s=music&ie=UTF8&qid=1400702990&sr=1-2&keywords=deep+purple+California+Jam. More information on this and other releases from Eagle Rock Entertainment is available online at http://www.facebook.com/EagleRockEnt and http://www.eagle-rock.com. To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.