Live In Germany (Darker Than Blue 068/069/070)
Stadthalle, Offenbach, Germany – November 27, 1970
Disc 1: (61:46) Child In Time, Speed King, Into The Fire, Paint It Black, Mandrake Root
Stadthalle, Offenbach, Germany – April 10, 1971
Disc 2: (57:56) Intro, Yodel, Speed King, Strange Kind Of Woman, Child In Time, Paint It Black, Into The Fire
Disc 3: (77:23) Mandrake Root, Black Night, Lucille, Wring That Neck
Live In Germany on the Darker Than Blue label couples two audience recordings from Stadthalle in Offenbach within a five month span. The set lists are fairly similar and the show from November 27, 1970 appears to be incomplete, missing at least the encore.
The recording on disc one is a very good audience source that is slightly distorted on the bottom end and muffled on occasion. It has a strong powerful sound to it probably due to the volume of the band and is enjoyable although it can be affected during the louder portions. There is a decent mix between the instruments with the exception of the drums which are the most difficult to make out. There are also cuts between all the tracks and I suspect we may not have the correct running order. Gillan’s “OK here we go” comment before “Speed King” leads me to believe that “Speed King” and “Into The Fire” were played as the opening numbers with “Child In Time” following as it would in Heidelberg the following night.
The tape fades in during the introduction of “Child In Time” and is described as “the slowest number we do, and also the fastest number we do”, noting the change in tempo. “Speed King” is near flawless and has some incredibly dynamic highs and lows. Gillan includes a refrain from “Who Do You Love?” a common reference for him within the song.
“Paint It Black” is covered as an instrumental that relies on guitar and organ for the vocal melodies and contains Ian Paice’s drum solo. There is a brief cut/tape flip just before the band comes back in at 10:43. “Mandrake Root” has a drop out at 3:30 with no time lost and cuts off just after sixteen minutes. Judging by the following night’s setlist, we could assume that “Black Night”, “Wring That Neck”, “Lucille” and maybe even “Good Golly, Miss Molly” are missing.
Discs two and three contain the show from four and a half months later at the same venue. Once again the recording is very powerful and borderlines overloading in places. There are a lot of mid-range frequencies and guitar and organ are the loudest in the mix. The drums suffer the worst being buried under the other instruments and while the bass has some presence, this is a tape for guitar/keyboard fanatics.
The set lists are similar between the two shows with the band now adding “Strange Kind Of Woman” to the stage show, a single that was released in February 1971. After the playful “Yodel” the band launches into their usual opener, “Speed King”. Blackmore appears to have broken a string early on and switches guitars in time for the solo. The tape does a great job of capturing Ritchie’s guitar in “Strange Kind Of Woman”. This was always the perfect vehicle for him to cut loose and he is having an outstanding night. Gillan delays his entry in “Child In Time” forcing Jon Lord to improvise a little extra in the intro. Lord also gets into an extended solo in the middle where he and Blackmore get into some harmony licks that show just how tight a unit they had become.
“Paint It Black” is introduced “this next one’s got two titles; the first title is Ian Paice is wonderful and the second title is what the Rolling Stones call it when they do it and it’s a thing called Paint It Black”. There is a cut at 3:12 just before the start of the solo and another brief one at 8:11. The drums are very clear during the solo without having to compete with the other instruments.
“Mandrake Root” is an uncut 31 minutes before a tape change. Gillan thanks everyone before “Black Night” which runs almost nonstop with “Lucille”. “Wring That Neck” has never been associated with any other boots from this date so its authenticity may be questionable. It is clearer and louder than the rest of the tape and has some different audio characteristics. It is a great version, nonetheless.
If you can get over the fact that the drums are almost non-existent, these are pretty good recordings and Live In Germany is definitely recommended as these are some of the best Deep Purple performances I’ve had the pleasure of investigating. More from this era, please.