Long Beach Arena 1971 Complete (Darker Than Blue 128/129)
Long Beach Arena, Long Beach, Ca. USA July 30, 1971
Disc 1 (41:39) Speed King, Strange Kind Of Woman, Child In Time
Disc 2 (41:43) Wring That Neck, Mandrake Root
Deep Purple’s gig at the Long Beach Arena in July 1971 has been in circulation for some time, it was broadcast on FM radio and been the subject of bootlegs going back to the vinyl era. Hard Road (DP-536) was a single LP set that had Speed King, Wring That Neck, and Mandrake Root, the only version of a bootleg I could find that had WTN.
On compact disc it has been represented as Turn Around (Gypsy Eye 010) and Long Beach Arena 71 (Dynamite DS 93 J052) and finally Purple for A Day (Crystal Sounds CS003) with the Gypsy Eye title being the most complete. One track, Strange Kind of Woman, was official released on the New Live & Rare (Sonic Zoom 209) and the show was slated to be released by their band as part of their official bootleg series as Purple For A Day (PUR 204) but was never released (See the Space Vol 1 & 2 booklet, its listed in the back).
Needless to say I have wanted a copy of the show for some time so when I saw this new release I jumped on it, since I do not own a previous version I will compare the sound to the single track from the New Live & Rare set. Since it is a radio broadcast the sound is very good for is age, the sound can sometimes be slightly unbalanced mostly when Ian Gillan sings his vocals dominate the mix but all instruments come through clear enough, when compared to the official release the Darker Than Blue sounds harsher and favors the mid to upper frequencies while the Sonic Zoom version has a nice warm sound and more bottom end. The DTB title also has a faint metallic noise in the back ground, possibly either the source or the mastering, I am noting it here but it did not interfere with my listening experience.
The show starts off with Speed King, clocking in at over 10 minutes the song starts of fast and furious but soon settles down into the improvisation middle section with the Glover Paice rhythm section laying down a solid and at times little funky groove that Lord and Blackmore can solo over, Gillan gets into the usual mimic section of voice and guitar and as usual throws in snippets of Who Do You Love. Ian introduces the next song as being about a prostitute, almost cutting edge language for broadcast radio in those days and the band play a great Strange Kind Of Woman, a favorite from the Fireball record. Blackmore plays a great solo, full of intensity and wrings everything he can get out of his guitar and then turns on a dime to the slower interlude that brings the guitar and vocal interlude with Gillan.
At the songs conclusion there is a station identification KUSE 91.5 FM that does not interfere with any music but does go over a little of Gillans between song chatter. Child in Time is its typical heavy self, clocking in at just over 19 minutes and is dominated by Blackmore who is the driving force of this concert. The song settles down for a long ride, Glover and Paice lay an almost boogie foundation for Lord first and then Blackmore to let loose on, Lords solo starts off slow but soon opens into an electric church sort of thing. Ian Paice is following him, his drum patterns accent the keyboards and Glover is playing an interesting rhythm pattern also, all of which can be clearly enjoyed in this recording. The pace quickens with Blackmore’s return to the stage and they instantly fall into battle, Lord does not try and compete for long as Blackmore is too intense.
The second disc starts of with Wring That Neck, there is no tuning prior to the track and the sound for this track is a notch up from the rest of the show, the timbre is even different. The instruments are far more well balanced and one would question its legitimacy and question why is this one track so much better ? I love Wring That Neck, it has a wonderful jazz fusion feel to it that clearly shows the musicians early influences and is a great vehicle for improvisation. Roger Glover even gets into a solo about 6 minutes in, and although short is great to hear. There is a cut in the tape at the 10:29 mark with and unknown amount of music lost and Blackmore gets into a little Jingle Bells at the songs conclusion. The sound returns to the quality of the first disc and starts with Gillan introducing Mandrake Root.
Jon Lord takes the first solo, his playing is aggressive and diverse but the whole time Blackmore is back there keeping time with Glover and Paice, chugging away waiting to strike. When I listen to these early shows I get how passionate fans where about Blackmore and why there reject Tommy Bolin. On stage Blackmore was the driving force and simply took over the performance with his unique style of subtlety coupled with sheer devastation.
There is some great improvisation during the piece featuring Blackmore and Glover as the latter follows him through a brief journey and about 19 minutes in the band plays a section that’s sounds like it will become the beginning of Highway Star. The song ends with Ritchie playing some unearthly sounding notes couple with feedback and the song as a whole is very effective, Gillan thanks the audience for listening at the songs conclusion and I can only conclude that this is a great concert.
This set comes packaged in a slim line jewel case adorned with mostly color shots of the band. The pictures on the inside tray cover are particularly cool with each band member posed solo, Gillan with a conga drum and Lord with a French horn and Ian Paice with a gun, very cool indeed. My only question of in regards to Wring That Neck truly being from this show, perhaps another collector has insight on this show and any comments would be welcomed. Over all I found this a very enjoyable release and a welcome addition to my collection.If you liked this review, buy me a cup of joe. (Suggested: $3 a shot or $7.5 for a double)