16 Gold Bars (Crime Crow Productions)
121 minutes, 4:3 NTSC, Dolby Digital, All Regions
Budakon Hall, Tokyo Japan- December 15, 1975- Mark IV- 30:10
1. Smoke on the Water; 2. You Keep on Movin’; 3. Burn; 4. Love Child; 5. Highway Star
– Granada TV Studios, England – July 14, 1970- Mark II- 23:14
1. Speed King; 2. Child In Time; 3. Wring That Neck; 4. Improv/ Mandrake Root
– Pop 2 TV (Paris, France)- October 8, 1970- Mark II- 25:26
1. Wring That Neck; 2. Mandrake Root
Hofstra University, Hempstead, Long Island- May 27, 1973- Mark II- 16:28
1. Strange Kind Of Women; 2. Space Truckin
– Playboy After Dark- October 23, 1968- Mark I- 9:15
– Bonus Clips- Studio- Various Dates- Mark II- 16:32
1. No, No, No; 2. Highway Star; 3. Hallelujah
Deep Purple was a talented but turbulent band which seemed to change lineups every couple of years from their inception in 1968, with the Mark I lineup, until the eventual collapse of the Mark IV version in 1976.
16 Gold Bars collects together video material from various early versions of the band with the exception of the Coverdale/ Hughes Mark III incarnation. The video has a main menu which has 6 individual windows with running clips of each segment. There is also a separate song selection menu where you can access any song directly.
The first offering is a rare 30 minute pro-shot video of the Mark IV band featuring Tommy Bolin on lead guitar and filmed at Budakon Hall , Japan. This was also released on the recent “Rises Over Japan” (No Label) DVD which featured the same songs but, based on the set list on the covers, presented in a different order. It is indeed rare in that it is the only known circulating pro-shot video of the Tommy Bolin version of Deep Purple. The only other video I have been able to verify was 8mm Cine shot at the Sunbury Festival in Sydney Australia from 1975.
The video is slightly dark and grainy but clear with just a little fuzziness and some loss of facial detail probably the result of the stage lighting. The color is solid with no noticeable blooming and the black background has very good saturation which implies this to be close to the master. There are occasionally white specks which move across the film from age but they are barely noticeable and there is no VCR tracking mark at the bottom of the screen which again could mean this is close to the master tape. The Audio is VG/VG+ and is clear with the vocals and Jon Lords organ upfront. Some compression is evident with the high frequencies slightly muted.
I found the performance to be average at best and was disappointed to find Tommy Bolin relegated to the role of playing rhythm with Jon Lord filling most of the lead solo chores. One possible explanation for this is it has been reported that early in the tour, either in Indonesia or early in Japan, Tommy Bolin took some Morphine and fell asleep on his right hand twisting it and rupturing some tendons. This rendered his picking hand almost useless and he was basically going through motions with Jon Lord handling all the solos.
This is a shame as he was an amazing guitar player who never got to show his talent on stage during his short time with Deep Purple. For those who want to hear his brilliance pick up Billy Cobham’s Spectrum album as Tommy’s guitar playing is showcased on this Jazz Fusion release.
Next up is some outstanding Mk II footage from Granada TV July of 1970. The Video quality is outstanding and looks to be either a copy of the master or a very low gen copy. The Audio is also an excellent mono soundtrack and very well balanced. This video could be an official release it is that good. The studio audience is very subdued and is an odd mix which includes dressed up families with small children who don’t quite seem to know what to make of the band. This does not affect the bands performance which gives a very tight rocking set with Ritchie especially animated pulling out all the tricks playing behind his back and between his legs. What we see is a band that had been together just over a year and which really seems to enjoy playing together and this is reflected in their performance.
The third segment was taped two three months later from the French TV program Pop 2 TV in October 1970. The black and white video in this show is several gens removed from the master with a VCR tape tracking mark visible at the bottom of the screen. It is reasonably clear but slightly fuzzy with loss of facial detail even on the close-ups. The audio is comparable quality and is slightly compressed and lacking in the bass frequencies. Ritchie’s guitar is dominant in the mix. The performance has similar energy to the Granada show with Ritchie putting on a guitar clinic. If I had to rate it I would say it is VG- in quality and is enjoyable to watch.
We next get a copy of two songs from the well traveled May 73 ABC-TV IN CONCERT footage. The video in this case is multiple generations from the master and is very fuzzy with washed out with badly blooming color to the point where you get a rainbow effect throughout the two songs. The audio is clear but is compressed with a muted high end. While watchable this footage, along with the addition of the only known proshot video of “Smoke on the Water” by the Mk II band, has been officially released on the “DEEP PURPLE LIVE IN CONCERT 72/73 DVD in pristine condition. This title also includes excellent B&W footage from the 72 KB Hallen concert. I highly recommend picking up a copy of the official release if you don’t already own it.
The last segment, and the one I enjoyed the most, is a replay of an old “Playboy After Dark” show from October 1968 which featured the original MKI version of the band performing there hit single “Hush”. The video is VG-/VG quality which is several generations from the master but still reasonably clear. The color is slightly washed out but solid with no blooming and the faces are slightly fuzzy with some loss of detail. The audio is also VG but is compressed with a muted high end typical of generated video.
For those unfamiliar with the program Playboy After Dark was an American TV show hosted by Hugh Hefner. It ran in syndication from 1969 – 1970. It followed much the same style as its preceding show, Playboy Penthouse in that it portrayed a “typical” party at Hefner’s place, complete with Playboy Playmates and celebrities, who would then chat with Hefner and perform for the party. The show is very dated but is a fascinating look into the late 60’s pop culture. We see Hef and his guests dressed in tuxedos and dresses dancing to “Hush”. It reminded me of a scene out of Austin Powers. Before the band plays we see Ritchie hand Hef his Gibson ES-335 to show him how to play a cord. Hef then interviews Jon Lord, who is wearing a Nehru shirt, and introduces the band as “The Deep Purple”. The band starts with a short instrumental before diving into a lip-synced performance of “Hush” with then lead singer Rod Evans wearing a puffy pleated sleeved shirt and sporting a hairdo which makes him look like a dead ringer for Nigel Tufnel of Spinal Tap. Considering how rare MKI video is this is great stuff!
The cherry on the ice cream comes in the form of three in studio promotional bonus videos which are in fantastic “official release” audio and video quality. Two out of the three seem to be live performances with the “Highway Star” video being the most interesting for me as Ian Gillan adlibs the vocals which are completely different from the official release. It is hard to tell if he if just goofing or if it is just an early version of the song with incomplete lyrics and he is making them as he goes but it is a nice bonus to an amazing collection of videos.
Based on the quality alone I would say this DVD collection is highly recommended to even the casual Deep Purple fan.If you liked this review, buy me a cup of joe. (Suggested: $3 a shot or $7.5 for a double)