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Deep Purple's Live Albums - A Guide for the Purplexed

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Legendary hard rockers Deep Purple have an enduring reputation as one of the most rounded bands currently playing. Equally capable of penning catchy singles ('Smoke on the Water', 'Black Night') or epic album tracks ('Child in Time'), they also have a well-deserved reputation for their live shows, which frequently feature on-stage jams stretching short album tracks such as 'Wring That Neck' or 'Space Truckin' to over half an hour.

It is fitting, therefore, that there have been numerous attempts over the years to capture the feel of their live shows on vinyl (or, these days, polycarbonate and silicon). Initially, this simply involved the release of live albums culled from a series of shows at around the same time, such as the classic Made in Japan. The tendency to release an entire single-night performance came much later.

However, after the band split up, demand for new material meant that Purple's various record labels turned to assorted means of recycling older material - compilations, anniversary editions and, of course, live albums. The Deep Purple Appreciation Society - the band's fan club - has made a point of issuing 'archive' concerts and expanded editions of previous live albums via specialist labels such as the Connoissuer Collection, Purple Records, Sonic Zoom and Deeper Than Blue. These have frequently been under different names to the original releases and with extensive liner notes by superfan Simon Robinson.

Combined with the reformation of the band some eight years later, there are now a prodigious number of Purple live albums available, even without taking into consideration unofficial 'bootleg' releases1. The official Deep Purple Discography is almost more of a problem than a help, spending over 100 pages listing every variant of every release and is even then nearly 30 years out of date.

Among all this, it can be hard for the dedicated collector to know whether an album they've just spotted for sale is a recording they already have. It can be even harder to work out whether a given line-up of the band features in a collection. The purpose of this Entry is to put the official live releases into a comprehensible order, chronologically by date of recording, both to assist the dedicated fan in completing their collection, and to point newcomers towards the better places in which to start.

Deep Purple Mark I

Formed by drummer Chris Curtis2 as 'Roundabout' in 1967, the years during the band's original line-up - with keyboardist Jon Lord, guitarist Ritchie Blackmore, Nick Simper on bass, vocalist Rod Evans and drummer Ian Paice - are poorly represented among live releases. Although they toured to support each of their three releases, no official live recordings were made. Their set seems to have been heavily based around cover versions and instrumentals featuring lengthy improvised solos from each of the band members, including of course their breakthrough version of 'Hush'.

A single live album, Live at Inglewood, has since been released based on a bootlegged show. In this instance, the sound was taken from a failed attempt to video the show. This was Deep Purple's first ever show in the USA (discounting a prestigious TV appearance a few days earlier), supporting Cream. According to rock legend, Purple were promptly dropped as Cream's support act after proving more popular than the headliners!

A few tracks recorded for BBC sessions (without a live audience) have also been released.

Deep Purple Mark II

Not surprisingly, the 'classic' line-up - featuring singer Ian Gillan and bassist Roger Glover, alongside original members Blackmore, Lord and Paice - has the greatest number of live releases. Technically the two orchestral albums, Concerto for Group and Orchestra and The Gemini Suite, fall into this category; the former is available in an Anniversary edition with all three songs played by the band prior to the Concerto (earlier CD releases have two live tracks, the original vinyl none). Keyboardist Jon Lord has also recorded a studio version of the Gemini Suite and a variant known as Windows as solo projects.

The Mark II line-up toured prior to the release of their first album, In Rock, using a set-list similar to the Mark I line-up. This is captured on Live in Montreux 1969 (aka Kneel & Pray), which also features very early versions of 'Child in Time' and 'Speed King'3. The first disc of In Concert is also taken from this time: a special concert at the BBC studios, the audience is unusually polite, allowing one of the most introspective starts Purple have ever recorded.

With the release of In Rock, Purple hit the big time. Live in Aachen (aka Space Vol 1 & 2) is a recording that seems to still feature the pre-In Rock set list, with just four lengthy songs. Its place in Purple history is guaranteed by the fact that, in the form of a bootleg entitled H-Bomb, this was the first Deep Purple live recording to be released. It's easy to see the attraction to early fans - Gillan may sound like he's singing through a loudhailer, but Lord's solos are epic and intense. And now that it has been remastered on CD, the whole 33-minute 'Mandrake Root' fits on without being split over two sides.

Live in Stockholm, recorded just two months later, arguably shows the band at their best. (An edited-down and reordered version of the same recording has previously been released as Scandinavian Nights, aka Live and Rare. Since the concert was re-ordered to better fit onto vinyl, listeners have the bizarre experience of hearing Ian Gillan introduce the first track with 'This next one...') By this time, the set list had expanded to include more original numbers, and the lengthy instrumentals are now confined to 'Space Truckin'' and 'Lazy'. This would remain the basic format of Purple live shows until the band's split.

The subsequent Fireball tour is documented on Live in Denmark 1972 (confusingly known on DVD as Scandinavian Nights, Live in Denmark 1972 or Live in Concert 72/73). The DVD release features performances from Copenhagen and New York, May 1973, as well as a track by the Mark III line-up from the California Jam - see below). Further live material from this time features on the second disc of In Concert, again recorded at the BBC. This is worth the admission price for the version of 'Strange Kind of Woman' alone, Gillan's voice almost indistinguishable from Blackmore's guitar.

However, it was the Machine Head tour that produced Purple's most famous (and first official) live album - Made in Japan. The original release took the highlights of three back-to-back performances in Tokyo and Osaka, and this has become recognised as one of the greatest live albums of all time. Although all the band members have their chance to shine, it is dominated by Blackmore's guitar right to the final awed silence from the crowd at the end of the closing number. From his deliberate mis-playing of the intro to 'Smoke On The Water' to the combination of frantic speed and melody during the solos on 'Highway Star', or his interplay with Gillan's voice on 'Strange Kind of Woman', this is Blackmore on top form. It reached number 16 in the UK charts, and continued to sell strongly for several months (helped by the single-album price tag attached to the double vinyl set). It was recently voted the second-best live album of all time (losing out on the top spot to Thin Lizzy's Live and Dangerous, much to the disgust of Purple fans). The anniversary re-issue has three bonus tracks; although these give deservedly greater prominence to Lord's Hammond organ, they are not quite up to the quality of the original album tracks. The complete concerts are now available; the bulk were released on the 3-CD Live in Japan, though to fully reconstruct each night you would also need the 2-CD remastered Anniversary edition of Made in Japan and the Listen, Learn, Read On boxed set (which at 6 CDs is an expensive way of getting the final track to complete the concerts).

Recommended Mark II Listening: Made in Japan, Live in Montreux 1969, Live in Stockholm.

Deep Purple Mark III

The two albums released by the Mark III line-up - featuring David Coverdale on vocals, who replaced Gillan in 1973 - each had world tours to support them. Deep Purple played a number of US dates, of which two different recordings have been released: California Jamming (aka Just Might Take Your Life, aka Live At The Ontario Speedway 1974) and San Diego 74 (also known under the somewhat unlikely title of Perks & Tit).If buying California Jamming, ensure you get the 2003 re-issue which includes the complete set; earlier versions omit 'Lay Down, Stay Down'. Although the re-issue is officially called Just Might Take Your Life4, it features the text Live at the Ontario Speedway prominently on the cover, and is often known by this title. The sound quality is slightly substandard on all versions, but improved on the reissue. San Diego 74 is said to be the better of the two concerts, recorded just days apart, but sadly the original master recordings are incomplete and two tracks (totalling around 30 mins) are missing.

A UK concert was recorded for broadcast on the BBC's In Concert series (the third and final time the band appeared on the show), and was issued nearly a decade later as Live in London. Again, ensure you have the reissue with an extra track, the 30-minute set-closer 'Space Truckin'', which completes the concert. In this reviewer's opinion, this is the only live release on which Coverdale and Glenn Hughes, who replaced Glover on bass in this incarnation, carry their vocal duties comfortably.

At the time, the band recorded three further shows at the end of their Europen tour, in Graz, Paris and Saarbrücken. Unfortunately, these have never been systematically released, so completionists will need to buy all the available releases and even then will not have the full three dates. The original album was Made In Europe, compiled from the three shows, but based on the Saarbrücken show. The album was heavily doctored in the studio and is unloved by many fans. Mk III: The Final Concerts (aka Archive Alive) contains a mixture of material from the Paris and Graz shows, and Live in Paris 75, as the name implies, features the full Paris concert and is probably the one to go for if buying only one of the three linked albums. Half the tracks from the Graz and Saarbrücken shows remain unreleased, including the bulk of the German date and four tracks from the Austrian. These turned out to be the last shows Ritchie Blackmore played before leaving to form another band, Rainbow.

Recommended Mark III Listening: Live in London, Live in Paris 75

Deep Purple Mark IV

Although not concert releases, the two volumes of recorded rehearsals and jamming sessions - Days May Come And Days May Go and 1420 Beachwood Drive - are sometimes counted as live albums.

It was during the Mark IV tour that the 'funkier' direction of the Mark III studio albums began to make itself heard on stage. The final live release 'first time round' was Last Concert in Japan, which spectacularly cemented the Mk IV line-up's reputation as a musical disaster. The night chosen for recording, new guitarist Tommy Bolin had paralysed his chord arm by injecting drugs, which did nothing to detract from the general drug and personality issues that were affecting the band's performances throughout the tour. This was an edited version of the show; the entire set was later released with better sound quality under the altered title This Time Around: Live in Tokyo5. The revised version is listenable, but even Lord's playing seems uninspired - all he can manage for a solo is to play around with the 'Woman From Tokyo' riff (the original packaging listed this as the full song, further disappointing fans listening to the record).

Partial musical rehabilitation for this line-up was also found with the release of Live at Long Beach 1976 (aka On The Wings Of A Russian Foxbat, aka King Biscuit Flower Hour). This concert was also issued in cut-down form as Extended Versions; it is unclear who would buy a reduced-length version of a Deep Purple album.

Deep Purple Mark II Reformed

When the band reformed in 1984, it wasn't long before they felt the need to put out more live material. From here on, the thirty minute epic jams were dropped from the set to allow more songs to be included. Their only UK show on their reunion tour was headlining Knebworth, duly issued (minus a couple of tracks where the BBC recording equipment had technical trouble) as In The Absence Of Pink: Knebworth 85, featuring material from their comeback album. The tour supporting their next album has also been recorded and released as Nobody's Perfect, though this consists of recordings from several dates, something Purple fans seem to frown upon these days.

Deep Purple Mark V

One of the biggest frustrations to collectors is the complete absence of any official live material featuring Joe Lynn Turner on vocals. Derided by many fans at the time as too reminiscent of Rainbow, the band seem to be deliberately avoiding releasing such material. If you wish to hear what they sounded like, you will need to resort to the bootleg market.

Deep Purple Mark II Reformed Again

Once regular singer Ian Gillan was back in the fold, Purple embarked on a 25th Anniversary tour. Two dates were recorded and released in their entirety as a boxed set, Live in Europe 1993, and a DVD, Come Hell Or High Water, before being re-released individually a few years later as Live in Stuttgart 1993 and Live at the NEC 1993. The latter title caused some controversy when Gillan slated it as one of the band's worst and advised fans not to buy it, causing the record label to delete it. For those who wish to ignore his advice, there is no musical difference between buying the boxed set and obtaining the two concerts separately. You get a pretty cardboard box if you buy them packaged together. The energy and dynamism of the Stuttgart show more than makes up for the absence of extended on-stage jams, and the newer tracks stand up surprisingly well to the older classics. In fact, this is one of Purple's strongest live offerings. For the most part the Birmingham show is quite good, if you don't count the curiously guitar-free opening track (Blackmore was sulking in his dressing room until several minutes into the concert, and would never share a stage with the other band members again after the concert ended) - but if you are choosing between the two, Stuttgart is the way to go.

Recommended Listening: Live in Stuttgart 1993

Deep Purple Mark VI

Joe Satriani's brief stint as guitarist is another disappointingly unreleased era. This is likely due to the same contractual difficulties as prevented him from writing studio material with them, since he did perform a full tour.

Deep Purple Mark VII

Once Steve Morse was installed as new guitarist, Purple launched 'secret' tours of Mexico and the USA. They also toured Africa and Asia prior to the release of Purpendicular. The supporting tour for this latest album was recorded at two locations for Live at the Olympia 96 and Live at Montreux 1996 (also available as a DVD of the same name; the CD does not contain all the tracks available on the DVD). A little-known European album called Live Encounters.... also came out of this tour, though release was restricted to Eastern Europe and many mistakenly believe this to be an unofficial bootleg.

Purple's tour to support their next studio album, Abandon, resulted in the Total Abandon: Australia '99 CD and DVD. They then took a hiatus to resurrect their Concerto, firstly as a one-off Live at the Royal Albert Hall (aka Live With the LSO).

They then toured again, mixing their 'usual' set with performances of rare tracks, centring on the Concerto. The 'unusual' version features on Live at the Rotterdam Ahoy, though the Concerto itself is missing.

Their subsequent World Tour was recorded in exceptional detail, even by Purple's standards, with a 12-CD Soundboard Series boxed set featuring six full back-to-back concerts (the last two being the 'concerto version'; the second, third and fourth dates feature identical track listings and the first differs only by the inclusion of a single extra track). Surprisingly, this release is excellent, though the price-tag will be an insurmountable bar to casual buyers.

Recommended Mark VII Listening: Live at The Olympia '96.

Deep Purple Mark VIII

With the retirement of Jon Lord, the band toured again to support their Bananas album and introduce new keyboardist Don Airey. No recordings of this have been released, but their subsequent (and latest) tour has produced a third in their increasing regular series of live albums from Montreux, Live at Montreux 2006: They All Came Down To Montreux (also available as a 2-DVD set with a complete second concert from the next day, and restoring a missing track).

As a final note, a live compilation Space Truckin' Around the World 68-76 was released in 2010. This contains no previously unreleased material.


A prodigious number of bootlegs of Deep Purple performances are in circulation. The same recording may circulate under several different names, edited down in different ways. The table at the end of this Entry gives the actual dates of recording of all the official Deep Purple live albums - this remains the only way to definitively determine whether two releases are equivalent.

One (officially sanctioned) bootleg release does deserve a mention. The 12-CD set Deep Purple Collectors Edition The Bootleg Series 1984-2000 suffers from poor sound quality in places (in particular the first concert); however, it covers six concerts and two line-ups, mostly with reasonable quality and several from tours not otherwise documented (in particular the 1984 Mark II Reformed line-up), making it a must-have for truly dedicated fans of the reformed Purple. The dates of these recordings are included in the table for completeness.

So, Where To Start?

For those who have never heard a Deep Purple live release before, the sheer number of the releases can be intimidating. The fact that most are double CDs probably does not help either.

In fact, Made in Japan is the definitive live release. Beyond that, this Entry has attempted to list some recommended listening that should be of help. These exclude: releases of poor (or 'archive') sound quality; 12-CD boxed sets; geographically restricted releases that are likely to be expensive to obtain; releases with missing tracks; occasions when a band member is drugged, sulking or otherwise incapacitated; unofficial or 'bootleg' releases; the Concerto-set shows; or other releases which only hardcore fans would recommend (and usually then hedging with 'But remember when you're listening...').

Listing of Deep Purple Live Releases

Line-upDateLocationRelease Title(s)aka
Mark I18 October, 1968Los Angeles, USALive at Inglewood 
Mark II4 October, 1969Montreux, SwitzerlandLive in Montreux 1969Kneel & Pray
 19 February, 1970London, UKIn Concert (Disc 1) 
 11 July, 1970Aachen, GermanyLive in AachenBootlegged as Space Vol. 1 & 2; H-Bomb; Back to the Rock; Sonic Zoom; Darker Than Blue; Prisoners of Rock
 12 November, 1970Stockholm, SwedenScandinavian Nights: Live in Stockholm 1970All or part of the set has appeared as Scandinavian Nights; Live & Rare; Murky Waters; A Live Tribute To Wally; In The Fire; and Paint It Black
 1 March, 1972Copenhagen, DenmarkLive in DenmarkDVD version known as Scandinavian Nights; Live in Denmark 1972; Live in Concert 72/73
 9 March, 1972London, UKIn Concert (Disc 2) 
 15, 16 and 17 August, 1972Osaka and Tokyo, JapanMade in JapanRelated to Live in Japan - see main text
Mark III6 April, 1974California, USALive at the Ontario Speedway 1974Just Might Take Your Life; California Jamming
 9 April, 1974San Diego, USASan Diego 74Perks & Tit
 22 May, 1974London, UKLive in London 
 3 or 4, 5 and 7 April, 1975Graz, Austria; Saarbrücken, Germany; Paris, FranceLive in Paris 75Related to Made in Europe; Mk III: The Final Concerts; and Archive Alive - see main text
Mark IV15 December, 1975Tokyo, JapanThis Time Around: Live in TokyoLast Concert in Japan
 27 February, 1976California, USALive at Long Beach 1976On the Wings of a Russian Foxbat; King Biscuit Flower Hour
Mark II Reformed22 June, 1985Knebworth, UKIn the Absence of Pink: Knebworth 85 
 30 November, 1984Adelaide, AustraliaHighway StarsPart of the Bootleg box; see main text
 16 June, 1985Stockholm, SwedenThird NightPart of the Bootleg box; see main text
 26, 27 and 28 January, 1987Budapest, HungaryHungary DaysCompiled from several shows; part of the Bootleg box; see main text
 23 May, 1987; 30 May, 1987; 22 August, 1987; 6 September, 1987; 26 February, 1988Irvine Meadows, USA; Phoenix, USA; Oslo, Norway; Verona, Italy; Hook End Manor, UKNobody's Perfect 
Mark II Reformed Again16 October, 1993; 9 November, 1993Stuttgart, Germany; Birmingham, UKLive in Europe 1993Come Hell or High Water; Live in Stuttgart 1993; Live at the NEC 1993 - see main text for differences
 13 November, 1993Stockholm, SwedenIn Your TrousersPart of the Bootleg box; see main text
Mark VII4 March, 1995Florida, USAPurple SunshinePart of the Bootleg box; see main text
 3 June, 1996Katowice, PolandLive Encounters 
 17 June, 1996Paris, FranceLive at the Olympia 96 
 July 1996Montreux, SwitzerlandLive at Montreux 1996 
 20 April, 1999Melbourne, AustraliaTotal Abandon: Australia '99 
 25 to 26 September, 1999London, UKLive at the Royal Albert HallLive with the LSO
 1 April, 2000Osaka, JapanMade in Japan 2000Part of the Bootleg box; see main text
 30 October, 2000Rotterdam, The NetherlandsLive at the Rotterdam Ahoy 
 9 March, 2001; 13 March, 2001; 14 March, 2001; 20 March, 2001; 24 March, 2001; 25 March, 2001Melbourne, Australia; Wollongong, Australia; Newcastle, Australia; Hong Kong, China; Tokyo, JapanThe Soundboard Series 
Mark VIII15 July, 2006Montreux, SwitzerlandLive at Montreux 2006: They All Came Down to Montreux 
1'Bootleg' recordings are any release not officially sanctioned by the band or their record company. They may come from a variety of sources; the lowest quality are recordings of live concerts made by members of the audience and frequently almost inaudible. Higher quality versions are sometimes recorded by the sound engineers at a concert through the mixing desk.2Despite being a founder member, Curtis, who previously drummed with the Searchers, dropped out of the band before it had any major success, later leaving the music business to work for the Inland Revenue.3Then known as 'Kneel & Pray'.4Sic; the order of the first two words is reversed from the song title.5Presumably the label didn't want the reissue associated with the reputation of the original...

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