The new Deep Purple live album features a great performance from 1975 – recorded in Austria just a few days before Ritchie Blackmore left the band.
The world is not short of live albums by Deep Purple. There are more than forty of the bloody things. And only recently, the mother of them all, 1972’s Made In Japan, was expanded into a six-disc box set of wallet-emptying magnitude.
**Graz 1975 was recorded at one of the last gigs ever played by the Mk III line-up of Purple. ** This version of the band featured Blackmore on guitar, David Coverdale on lead vocals, Jon Lord on keyboards, Ian Paice on drums and Glenn Hughes on bass and vocals. They made two studio albums together, Burn and Stormbringer, both released in 1974.
Some of the material on Graz 1975 has been released before. The final three shows by Purple Mk III were recorded – in Graz on April 3, Saarbrucken in Germany on April 5, and Paris on April 7. The Saarbrucken material featured heavily on the 1976 album Made In Europe, while the Graz and Paris recordings were later featured on the 1996 album Mk III: The Final Concerts.
**The USP on Graz 1975 is that it features the complete performance from this gig – but there is no encore included. **On fan website The Highway Star, there is a post from one Graz resident who attended that gig in ’75. He says of this new release: “This is NOT the complete set list. They played _Highway Star _as an encore.”
Despite this controversy, Graz 1975 still gives you plenty of bang for your buck. What Purple delivered that night at Liebenauer Eishalle was a masterclass in heavy rock dynamics. The set majored on Mk III songs: the title tracks from Burn and Stormbringer, deep cuts such as The Gypsy, Lady Double Dealer and You Fool No One, and the epic blues Mistreated. And from the glory days of the Mk II line-up, two indisputable Purple classics: Smoke On The Water and Space Truckin’.
Before Purple embarked on this tour, Ritchie Blackmore had already started on the next phase of his career. Between February and March 1975, Blackmore had recorded what was originally planned as a solo album, featuring four members of American rock group Elf, including singer Ronnie James Dio. This album was eventually released in August, after Blackmore had quit Purple. It was titled Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow, and it marked the birth of a new band.
But in the aftermath of Blackmore’s split from Purple, he received praise from Jon Lord. Recalling the last shows by Purple Mk III, Lord said: “Ritchie is a pro from top to bottom. He carried on playing even though he wasn’t happy with the situation.”
Graz 1975 is proof of that. It’s not the best Deep Purple live album. That’s Made In Japan. But Mk III Purple was a great band till the very end.