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Deep Purple

Live in California 74

Review by Gary Hill

I’ve always been a big fan of the Burn album. So, I was really looking forward to this live album. It didn’t quite live up to my expectations, but that’s at least in part because my expectations were high. Let’s start with the negatives. First, the sound is not the greatest. Apparently this is mastered from a video recording and it’s just not up to the level one usually expects from a live album. Still, it starts pretty bad and seems to improve and after a while that deficiency is barely noticeable. Secondly, they pull some of the songs out into some pretty freeform jams. Don’t get me wrong, I like changes from the studio version and I love jamming. This just loses me at times. Now, with both of those out of the way, let’s just say that I still love this album, blemishes and all. This band really was tight and it’s great to hear them perform. I’d recommend this thing, but with the aforementioned warnings. That way your expectations will be more realistic going into this. And, as always, your mileage may vary.

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Track by Track Review

I’ve always loved the Burn album and this song in particular, so to get a live recording is a great thing. The sound isn’t so great here, though. It either improves as the song continues or the ear acclimates to it. Still, it feels less than stellar in terms of sound quality. The performance, though, is on fire.

Might Just Take Your Life
This comes across as more of a pop-rocker. The vocal arrangement is the real standout feature here. It’s a good tune and delivered in a solid performance. The organ soloing is classy.
Lay Down, Stay Down
The riff driving this is classy and it’s another high energy Deep Purple rocker. This is definitely a step up from that last one.
I’ve always loved this killer bluesy rocker. I might actually like this version better than just about any version of it I’ve heard. The mellow section mid-track is tasty. There are quite a few shifts and changes in this beast. It’s a real powerhouse of epic proportions.
Smoke on the Water
On the one hand, this is a Deep Purple tune that’s pretty overdone. I mean, how many times can you hear this and have it still feel “fresh?” That said, there are some interesting little twists and turns here. This is good stuff, actually. They add in a soulful, almost acapella section with a strange closing crescendo. It’s odd, but cool.
You Fool No One/The Mule
Weighing in at almost 19 minutes in length, this track is truly epic.  It starts with a pretty crazy jam and works through several changes from there. In fact, this whole piece is sort of a massive mélange of things, going from one thing to another and then another in a real jam band fashion. There’s even a drum solo in the midst of this. Personally, it’s a bit too freeform for me. I tend to lose interest at times.
Space Truckin'
They turn “Space Truckin’” into the longest track of the disc at over 25 minutes in length. They take this stomper through some cool jams and there is some great keyboard soloing in the middle of this thing. This also does tend to get a bit “random” sounding at times, kind of losing me. Still, it’s got enough great stuff to keep it interesting for most of the duration. That says a lot.
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