Electric Ghost (Darker Than Blue 071/072)
Civic Hall, Wolverhampton, UK – February 20, 1972
Disc 1: (50:56) Highway Star, Strange Kind Of Woman, Child In Time, Mule/Drum Solo
Disc 2: (40:54) Lazy, Space Truckin’, Fireball, Lucille
Electric Ghost from Darker Than Blue features a good to very good, albeit distant audience recording from Civic Hall in Wolverhampton. It is slightly on the raw side, with some trace amounts of hiss (especially in the quieter sections) and picks up some echo from the venue. Your ears adjust quickly and the recording becomes more enjoyable and does a good job of capturing the atmosphere. All the instruments are present in the mix with very little audience noise. The show has been previously released on a 2CD set titled Walverhampton 2.20.72. and copied on the CDR After Machine Head but both are incomplete, missing “Child In Time”. Electric Ghost has no musical cuts and appears to be the entire show.
The Machine Head LP was recorded between December 6th and 21st, 1971 but wouldn’t be released until March 1972 even though “Highway Star” and “Lazy” were added to the set as early as September 1971 during the Fireball tour. “Nice to be here”, Ian Gillan says as the band tune up before “Highway Star”. The guitar solo is played a little looser than normal and doesn’t yet contain Ritchie Blackmore’s signature descending riffs at the end although Jon Lord’s organ solo more closely resembles the studio track. Gillan apologizes to the crowd, “Sorry about the last gig that we missed, it was due to circumstances completely beyond our control, but nice to be here, eventually” and explains “Strange Kind Of Woman” as “a true story about a friend of ours.” The breakdown allows for the first improvisation of the night where Blackmore and Gillan trade some very cool licks.
A passionate version of “Child In Time” reaches 17 minutes with some great passages from Lord. Interestingly, the guitar solo hints at those descending pull offs missing from “Highway Star”. This also features a nice little cat and mouse game between guitar and organ before the two join in unison and then in harmony. There is no cut before or after the track and the matching sound quality confirms this is from the same show so it is unclear why this was missing from the previous releases. Unlike future tours, where “The Mule” is only featured as a small fragment after the drum solo, it is played in full during this tour. It does contain the drum solo with Ian Paice playing some lightning speed fills.
“Space Truckin” is now added to the set and takes over the spot once occupied by “Mandrake Root”. It segues into the fast instrumental section of the latter to stretch the track to about 18 minutes and never returns to the Machine Head track. “Fireball” is the first encore and the distortion becomes a little more noticeable here (a result of the powerful dynamics). Documented versions of this track are few and far between where the song was so short lived in the set so even though the sound may be a little rougher, it is still a welcomed version. “Lucille” closes the show in typical fashion with Blackmore using the microphone stand for a slide effect (or perhaps a beer bottle as I have seen him do before). “Nice to be back in the country” are Ian’s closing remarks to an inspired above average performance.
Electric Ghost comes packaged in a double slimline jewel case with a nice use of era photos. A good job by Darker Than Blue for locating and issuing a more complete version of the show from this important transitional period in Deep Purple’s career.