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Deep Purple

Live at Montreux 1996 DVD

Review by Gary Hill

Sometimes it's all about the impression. I saw Deep Purple once quite a few years back, and frankly, I found them to be boring. Now, I barely remember the show. After seeing this DVD, though, I can tell you that either they were having a really bad night (it happens) or I just wasn't in the right mood for them. Either way, you never saw the review of the show at Music Street Journal. Why is that? It's because we don't do negative reviews. If we don't like something more than we dislike it, we just don't review it. That serves two main purposes. The first is that with as much good stuff out there we don't waste our time (and yours) with sub par material. The second goes more to my central point in talking about this - just because I happen to not find something entertaining it doesn't mean it's bad. After seeing this video, my guess is that was definitely the case on that show. I know that I've always like Deep Purple's particular style of hard rock on album. That one particular night left me greatly unimpressed, though. So, why trash them over one night? Well, I'm glad I didn't because it was probably more about a long day of watching bands than it was about them. As evidenced by this video, these guys simply kill in the live performance venue.

Certainly there are people out there who know Deep Purple for one song, "Smoke on the Water." Ian Gillan in his own way seems to admit that when they do the cut here. As they are about to launch into it he seems a bit irritated (or perhaps just bored) as he announces, "Well, here it is - thank you." Of course, that doesn't stop them from delivering a smoking (pun intended) performance of the number. The thing is, those who really only know that song are probably amongst the people who look at Deep Purple as a heavy metal band. While I really enjoy metal in this case that title is very much a limiting factor - Deep Purple is so much more. These guys play a very powerful blend of hard rock, blues, jazz, psychedelia and progressive rock. It's all thrown into the blender and comes out as an entity known as Deep Purple. This DVD catches them live at the Montreux jazz festival. You'll note I said that they have some jazz in the mix, well not enough to really be considered a jazz act, though. That is just another example that it's high time they rename the festival. In any event, this DVD actually captures two different DP appearances at the festival. The first is the full show of that '96 outing. There are also five classic tracks from their 2000 appearance included here. All the material rocks. Every member of the group is on top of their game throughout. Both video and audio are captured pretty flawlessly. Even Gillan's often-humorous banter between songs is here. The end result is a DVD that is sure to please long time fans of the band. The thing is, though, even if you don't fall into that group, as long as you like great musicianship and solid hard rocking classic sounds, you will enjoy this one. It's amongst the best in the series.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2006 Volume 3 at

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