A 4CD box set compilation of live tracks from around the world and through the years, compiled by The Deep Purple Appreciation Society and released in September 2001.
‘On The Road’ is a 4CD compilation of Deep Purple’s on stage history from the early days of the first Mk II line-up up to the Mk II re-union tour in 1993. Rather than dwell on what isn’t here (no Mk I stuff, nothing from the short-lived Joe Lynn Turner or Joe Satriani eras nor the much-longer and still current Steve Morse era), I have decided to take this box set track-by-track and try to give some perspective for the novice buyer and maybe even some interesting info for the serious collector (c’mon you know who you are).
The first song on disc one is ‘Hush’ which was the set opener for the September 1969 ‘Concerto’ concert at the Royal Albert Hall in London. ‘Hush’ was a #4 US hit for the Mk I line-up in 1968 and was originally written by Joe South of ‘Games People Play’ fame. ‘Hush’ has been in and out of Deep Purple’s set lists for years and has always been a popular song with the audience. The live version on this box set was previously released on the ‘Powerhouse’ compilation album in 1977. It was only previously available on CD on a Japanese compilation ‘New, Live & Rare’ released by Metal Mania in 1989.
‘Child In Time’ and ‘Wring That Neck’ come from a concert recorded on the 19th February 1970 at the BBC Studios in London for the BBC ‘In Concert’ series. The concert was broadcast on “The Sunday Show” on the 22nd February 1970. Both these tracks were previously released on the ‘In Concert 1970-1972’ album in December 1980 and on CD in April 1992. ‘Wring That Neck’ is an instrumental also sometimes known as ‘Hard Road’ and is extended here to over 18 minutes with some wonderful organ improvisations in the middle.
‘Into The Fire’ and ‘Black Night’ are taken from the ‘Scandinavian Nights’ CD released in October 1988 (also known as ‘Live & Rare’ in some countries). This concert was recorded at the Stockholm Konserthus 12th November 1970. ‘Black Night’ was the encore and is a wonderful version especially considering this song wasn’t even a year old at the time. Great guitar/vocal interplay near the end.
‘Machine Head’ opening track ‘Highway Star’ was a work-in-progress-at-the-time song performed for the German Beat Club TV show on 1st September 1971. This version with some different lyrics was previously released on the Ritchie Blackmore retrospective album ‘Rock Profile Volume 1’ released in October 1989. The sleeve notes for ‘On The Road’ say that this is a longer version previously only available on the vinyl version of ‘Rock Profile’, but it is actually exactly the same length as previously released on CD and fades out early. ‘No No No’ is from the same German TV source and is the only official live recording released of this song from the ‘Fireball’ album and also fades out early, though the full-length song appears on the vinyl version of that ‘Rock Profile’ album and also on the ‘Shades (1968-1998)’ 4CD box set from Rhino in 1999.
Moving on to Disc 2 which opens with a raucous version of ‘Speed King’ from the 1970 Stockholm concert mentioned above. “A speed king is somebody who can sing at 100 miles an hour” says Ian during this song and we believe him! The next 3 tracks, ‘Strange Kind Of Woman’, ‘Lazy’ and ‘Fireball’, are true rarities as they have never appeared on an official album release before. They are taken from the soundtrack of the ‘Scandinavian Nights’ video, which has nothing in common with the CD of the same title except the name! This video was filmed at KB Hallen, Copenhagen, Denmark on 1st March 1972. ‘Strange Kind Of Woman’ moves along nicely and includes a vocal/guitar interplay which would become the trademark of this song in concert. ‘Lazy’ starts off lazily enough and then turns into a harmonica-driven R&B romp. ‘Fireball’ is done fairly straight and fast, but its nice to hear a version from this period as it had left the setlist by the time of the famous Japan concerts in August that year.
We jump forward to the 1987 World tour and some more rareish tracks, though less rare now since the release in November 1999 of a 2CD version of ‘Nobody’s Perfect’ (previously only available on vinyl and as an edited single CD). First up is the pounding ‘Perfect Strangers’ from California 23rd May 1987. Ian adds that closing line “I don’t want to taste your poison” from the ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ album which he had sang on in 1970. This live version of ‘Perfect Strangers’ was previously released on the ‘Nobody’s Perfect’ live album, both on vinyl and CD in 1988.
‘Bad Attitude’ opens with Ian reciting “The Teddy Bear’s Picnic”. This nursery rhyme seems very popular with the band as they have used it a few times in concert, sometimes even as an instrumental interlude (Listen to ‘Space Trucking’ from ‘Knebworth ’85’ for example). ‘Bad Attitude’ from the ‘House Of Blue Light’ album, was recorded live in Phoenix, Arizona on the 30th May 1987 and was on the original vinyl album but not on the 1988 CD version of ‘Nobody’s Perfect’.
‘Space Trucking’ is disappointingly short for those of us who grew up on the epic version from ‘Made In Japan’, but this version recorded in Olso, Norway on 22nd August 1987 rocks, none-the-less. Not on the first CD release of ‘Nobody’s Perfect’, but it did make a CD appearance on the ‘Knocking At Your Back Door’ CD compilation in 1991.
‘Dead Or Alive’ with its great blues-y intro was recorded in Milan, Italy on 4th September 1987 and was not even on the original vinyl, but only on the cassette version of ‘Nobody’s Perfect’ and as a b-side of the ‘Hush 88’ single. By the way, ‘Hush 88’ was not actually a live version even though it appeared on the live album. It was a rehearsal recording from Hook End Manor in February 1988. ‘Dead Or Alive’ is a driving version with a brilliant organ solo and powerhouse drumming from Ian Paice.
‘Anya’ was recorded in Stuttgart, Germany on 16th October 1993 and was available on the ‘Come Hell Or High Water’ CD and video (and now DVD) releases. A strong and powerful song from ‘The Battle Rages On’ album before Ritchie decided to leave for good. Could have been a theme for a James Bond movie.
Disc 3 is dedicated to Mk III and opens with the opening track from the ‘Live In London’ album, a rousing version of ‘Burn’ which was previously released on ‘The Compact Disc Anthology’ CD in 1991. ‘Live In London’ has only ever be released on CD in Japan (on Metal Mania in 1989), so ‘Burn’ and ‘Mistreated’ are at this time rare on CD (though a 2CD re-release is being planned). Both tracks were recorded 22nd May 1974 at the Kilburn Gaumont in London. ‘Mistreated’ really captures a blues feeling and David Coverdale’s voice is very emotional while Ritchie’s guitar is wonderfully melodic.
‘Smoke On The Water’ is up next; this and the next 2 songs ‘Going Down’ and ‘You Fool No One’ were recorded in April 1975 and are taken from the ‘Mk III: The Final Concerts’ double CD which is a companion set to 1976’s ‘Made In Europe’. ‘Smoke…’ is sung well by David and then Glenn Hughes gets into the act with some vocal warbling whilst Jon plays a snippet of ‘With A Little Help From My Friends’. ‘Going Down’, a Don Nix song recorded by Freddie King in 1971, was used as an encore number by both Mk III & IV and led into ‘Highway Star’, but ‘Highway Star’ is edited off here and instead the track segues straight into ‘You Fool No One’. ‘You Fool No One’ has a drum solo from Ian, and the song then leads out of the drum solo into the riff from ‘The Mule’ before closing off with a bit of blues guitar.
Disc 4 features the Tommy Bolin-era Deep Purple aka Mk IV. The first 5 songs on this CD are all from the under-rated ‘Come Taste The Band’ album which is also the only Deep Purple studio album to feature Tommy Bolin. ‘Last Concert In Japan‘ was a sad attempt to document a live performance featuring Tommy Bolin from 15th December 1975 in Tokyo. ‘Last Concert…’ was not widely released on vinyl (strangely enough it was released in South Africa) and only ever in Japan on CD. In mid-2001, however, the full concert from which that album was taken was remixed, remastered and restored to its proper running order. Entitled ‘This Time Around – Live In Tokyo 1975’ it is a far better tribute to the memory of Tommy Bolin (who died 4th December 1976) and his contribution to the Deep Purple legacy. ‘You Keep On Moving’ and ‘Wild Dogs’ on this disc are taken from the ‘This Time Around’ CD and were also originally included on ‘Last Concert in Japan’.
‘On The Wings Of A Russian Foxbat’ is a double live CD recorded at Long Beach California on the 27th February 1976 and is sub-titled ‘Live In California 1976’. 5 tracks from ‘Foxbat’ are included here: ‘Lady Luck’, ‘Love Child’, ‘Getting Tighter’, ‘This Time Around’ & ‘Stormbringer’. ‘Lady Luck’ rocks whilst ‘Love Child’ is really funky and features a Jon Lord synthesizer solo. ‘Getting Tighter’ is over 13 minutes long and includes some jamming in the middle which owners of the ‘Days May Come – The California Rehearsals’ studio outtakes CD will recognize as ‘Dance To The Rock & Roll’ and ‘If You Love Me Woman’.
Though not credited on the CD cover, the instrumental coda to ‘This Time Around’ known as ‘Owed To G’ (“G” being George Gershwin) is actually included here. ‘Wild Dogs’ was a song on Tommy Bolin’s solo album ‘Teaser’ which had just been released when this live version was performed in Japan with vocals by Tommy. ‘Stormbringer’ rocks and then goes funky with a snippet from Sly and The Family Stone’s ‘Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Again) with a slight lyric change to “thank you for letting us be with you”.
The packaging is a hard slipcase containing the 4 CD’s and 12 collectors cards with photos of a band member on one side and a biography on the other. The booklet that comes with the set has been superbly written by Matthew Keen and is based on an article he wrote for Record Collector magazine in February 1998. Matthew goes through each of the live album releases in detail, even albums where tracks are not included on this box set, and all the album covers are shown. He also gives great info on how the set lists have changed through the years and around the world.