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Deep Purple: Graz 1975

The Mk III line-up at full blast – but also at the bitter end.

When Deep Purple performed in Austria’s second city on April 3, 1975, the band faced an uncertain future. Following this and two more concerts in Saarbrucken and Paris, guitarist Ritchie Blackmore would quit to launch his new group Rainbow.

All three shows were recorded. Material from the Saarbrucken gig formed the basis of the live album Made In Europe, released in 1976 after Purple had disbanded. Twenty years later came Mk III: The Final Concerts, a two-disc set culled from the Graz and Paris dates.

And now there is Graz 1975, on which, it’s claimed, the whole of that show is featured for the first time. This is disputed by Purple connoisseurs who point to the omission of Highway Star, which the band played as that night’s encore. But what is beyond debate is the power and brilliance of this performance.

This incarnation of Purple, featuring singer David Coverdale and bassist/vocalist Glenn Hughes, was as mighty as the band’s definitive Mk II line-up. And if Blackmore’s mind was elsewhere, it doesn’t show. Burn and Stormbringer are stunning: so too, cult classics such as The Gypsy. For a band on its last legs, they didn’t go quietly.

Freelance writer for Classic Rock since 2005, Paul Elliott has worked for leading music titles since 1985, including Sounds, Kerrang!, MOJO and Q. He is the author of several books including the first biography of Guns N’ Roses and the autobiography of bodyguard-to-the-stars Danny Francis. He has written liner notes for classic album reissues by artists such as Def Leppard, Thin Lizzy and Kiss, and currently works as content editor for Total Guitar. He lives in Bath - of which David Coverdale recently said: “How very Roman of you!”