It is fascinating that mainstream bands like Deep Purple have accrued a following similar to alternative pioneers like the Velvet Underground, the two styles dissimilar but both now finding a home in the classic rock genre. With the world gone upside down with rap and national community auditions events like The Voice or America’s Got Talent, a Deep Purple/Velvet Underground pairing in the new millennium would have been a delight for followers of both artists.
Alas, with members dying off (RIP Jon Lord, Lou Reed, Nico, Sterling Morrison…) those who admire these legends have to take comfort in the marvelous job Eagle Rock has done with its devotion to all things Purple.
GRAZ 1975 is a treasure, through and through, and though the hardcore, seriously dedicated fans may seek a release with additional tracks (see one of the appreciation societies on The HighwayStar.com which proclaims “this release of the Graz show is still incomplete and lacks the encores” this long-time DP fan still finds the disc most satisfying.
The Glenn Hughes and David Coverdale “Mark III” joining of forces with Ritchie Blackmore, Jon Lord and Ian Paice (Paice, the drummer alleged to be on the notorious “Squeeze” album by Doug Yule of the Velvet Underground, though that rumor has gone back and forth in dispute, it would show a strange connection of the two bands) has held up over the ages, indeed, I find the live tapes here more conducive to repeated spins than the original albums – the 1973/74 Burn (recorded in Montreux) and later 1974’s Stormbringer (recorded in Munich.)
Utilizing the “Rolling Stones Mobile” truck – as legend has it – gives the disc even more authenticity and the rendition of “Smoke on the Water” rocks (as did Ian Gillan’s rendition with Black Sabbath circa 1983…caught them live as well, and that would be a treat for fans of this Eagle Rock series.)
The packaging is superb and singer Coverdale shouts out most of the tracks’ names prior to the performance, which is a plus for those unfamiliar with the group’s different incarnations. You’ll find interesting commentary on Amazon and other internet sites and many feel as positive as this writer does about the release.
So much great Purple, so little time, but the more the merrier. This is just another great performance for the ages that actually would have been a contender chart-wise in the U.S. had it been released on its own way back when. Made in Europe, the 1976 release containing some tracks from Graz went Top 35 in New Zealand, U.K., Sweden and Germany.
On April 3, 1975 the Mk III line-up of DEEP PURPLE — guitarist Ritchie Blackmore, frontman David Coverdale, bassist/vocalist Glenn Hughes, keyboard player Jon Lord and drummer Ian Paice — performed at the Liebenauer ice rink, located on the outskirts of mountain-cradled Graz, Austria’s second largest city after Vienna.
Enthused by DEEP PURPLE’s arrival in town, the local press dubbed the concert “das Rockereignis des Jahres [the rock event of the year].” And it was — in more ways than one.
Previously unreleased in its entirety, “Graz 1975” — will be released in North America on September 23 on earMUSIC / Eagle Rock Entertainment
After Graz, DEEP PURPLE would play just two more shows — in Saarbrücken, Germany and Paris, France — before Blackmore left to form his new band, RAINBOW. The remaining band members would regroup quickly with American guitarist Tommy Bolin in tow.
In order to preserve Blackmore’s final run of Mk III concerts for posterity, DEEP PURPLE’s managers had brought THE ROLLING STONES mobile recording studio over to mainland Europe. And what a show it was! “Graz 1975” is absolutely electrifying and exhilarating. Indeed, it has long been regarded as the holy grail of concert recordings among Mk III connoisseurs. A performance that has never been available in its entirety until now.
Kicking off with a blazing performance of “Burn”, “Graz 1975” is a wild eight-track ride, firing on all pistons. Blackmore plays with controlled brutality. The vocal interplay between Coverdale and Hughes has never sounded so good. And, of course, stalwarts Lord and Paice give it a good kicking — and then some.
The track listing, naturally, is weighted heavily in favor of Mk III recordings, with just two songs from DEEP PURPLE’s previous incarnation with Ian Gillan on vocals and Roger Glover on bass: the iconic “Smoke On The Water” and the almost-as-iconic “Space Truckin'”. Still, it’s true to say that, from beginning to end, “Graz 1975” showcases DEEP PURPLE Mk III at the absolute top — and also, ironically, at the end — of their game.
After almost 40 years the concert is still captivating. It is the perfect example that, for DEEP PURPLE, there is no need for extravagant video projections or expensive fire shows to play a unique and fascinating gig. All they need is their music. It is the love and passion for their music that makes every single show a unique experience.
“Graz 1975” track listing:
03. The Gypsy
04. Lady Double Dealer
06. Smoke On The Water
07. You Fool No One
08. Space Truckin’
Joe Viglione is the Chief Film Critic at TMRZoo.com. He has written thousands of reviews and biographies for AllMovie.com, Allmusic.com, Gatehouse Media, Al Aronowitz’s The Blacklisted Journal, and a variety of other media outlets. Joe also produces and hosts Visual Radio, a seventeen year old variety show on cable TV which has interviewed Jodie Foster, director/screenwriter David Koepp, Michael Moore, John Cena, comics/actors Margaret Cho, Gilbert Gottfried, Gallagher, musicians Mark Farner and Don Brewer of Grand Funk Railroad, Ian Hunter of Mott The Hoople, Ray Manzarek, John Densmore, Felix Cavaliere of The Rascals, political commentator Bill Press and hundreds of other personalities.