I owned half of this concert on a shitty bootleg tape – and it was one of the most exciting musical experiences for me in those formative years, the yelp on Mistreated, the guitar playing throughout, an explosive – extraordinary – version of Burn (I’d yet to hear the studio version or any live versions when I first hear this, it still seems like the definitive take on the song) and that was through bubbles and warps and far too much tape-hiss.
So to hear it cleaned up – and presented in full – the concert, Graz 1975, recorded in an ice rink in Graz, Austria, by Deep Purple Mark III – is welcome, obviously. And it’s still – all these years later – some kind of revelation.
“Mk II” might have had the songs – and of course the dynamic, so many great shows and the classic albums – but this sure makes a case for “Mk III” as (also) a very special version of Deep Purple. Here David Coverdale is in fine voice, but what really works – what was always special about this version of the band – is the interplay, vocally, between Coverdale and Glenn Hughes. Take that version of Burn that opens this set. A great example of all that was right about this Deep Purple.
Ritchie Blackmore was playing out of his skin here too – probably because he was moments away from chucking it, storming off to form Rainbow.
Jon Lord and Ian Paice never once let Purple down – in any of its line-ups – so you’ll find them rock-solid as always, Paice taking his moments to shine (as ever on live favourite Space Truckin’).
But Graz 1975 shows that the songs Mark III racked up were good enough – more than that they were sometimes super-wonderful. Mistreated is such a huge, towering moment. And the fact that there are only two songs from Mark II, none from the original line-up, shows the confidence (arrogance?) of this version of the band by this point.
Also – it has to be said – this version of Purple creates one of the better (best?) versions of Smoke On The Water, a song the band never quite seemed to get right live. So simple – but suffering perhaps from a similar curse as The Rolling Stones’ Satisfaction. Perennial favourite – but never quite right on the night.
Scorching versions of Stormbringer and Lady Double Dealer are further highlights here, as is You Fool No One.
They’d be gone soon after this – a brief new version existed as “Mk IV” – and then a long gap before Mark II would reform, and then spawn the version that exists now – strangely, perhaps, the longest running version of Purple.
Graz 1975 argues the case for Deep Purple as one of the all-time great live bands, and specifically for Deep Purple Mark III.