Deep Purple – Basel 1970 (Darker Than Blue 154/155)

deep_purple_basel[1]Basel 1970 (Darker Than Blue 154/155)

St. Jakob Sporthalle, Basel, Switzerland – June 8, 1970

Disc 1 (47:32) Introduction, Speed King, Black Night, Child In Time, Paint It Black Inc Drum Solo

Disc 2 (43:04) Wring That Neck, Mandrake Root

After the acquisition of singer Ian Gillan and bassist Roger Glover, Deep Purple embarked on a year long sojourn around the UK and Europe that would serve the band on multiple levels. Firstly the newly christened Mark II needed time to gel as a band and what better way to do it than on stage. Also the trio of Blackmore, Lord, and Paice had a specific vision in mind for Purple, to move into a heavier and more dramatic sound that the Mark I version could not provide. Lastly they needed material for their next record, so much of the written material was honed to perfection in a live setting. The result of the Mark II’s first year together was the In Rock record, a release that was an instant classic and would be credited with Black Sabbath’s first record and Uriah Heep’s Very ‘eavy, Very ‘umble as the beginnings of heavy metal in Britain.

The recording featured on this release is from a show in Switzerland just days after the release of In Rock and is culled from the last few dates of the tour prior to the In Rock tour that would begin in July 1970. To my knowledge it has not been released before so it looks like this is its silver pressed debut. The source is a fair to good audience recording that is incomplete, there are cuts between the songs, a cut during Ian Paice’s drum solo at the 8:55 mark and the tape runs out 17:38 into Mandrake Root cutting the end of the song as well and the evening’s encore, one could guess it was Lucille since that was their regular one during this time. Ian tells the audience that there are issues with the PA system from the previous night’s concert in Munich and they are awaiting parts to fix it, so his vocals are a bit low in the mix. The guitar and organ are well defined in the mix and the bass is a bit lower but still defined and as is usual with many of these early Purple audience recordings there is minor distortion during the extremely loud passages. Sadly the drums are in the background for the majority of the recording, even the drum solo sounds a bit distant. The taper moves his equipment after Speed King and the sound clears nicely for the rest of the tape, overall a very enjoyable recording.

Speed King is introduced as a “Rock and Roll Thing” by Gillan and after a bit if tuning by Lord the band plow into the song, the middle section of the song features a very laid back exchange between Blackmore and Lord, something that will happen much more before the night is over. Even with the PA issues, Ian’s wails come through amazingly well showcasing his vocal power, his call and response with Ritchie is perfection as he mimics the guitar wonderfully. Black Night follows, Ian tells the audience it was recorded three weeks ago, the song was released as a pre LP single by the band it would not make its way onto In Rock until years later when it was included on the 25th Anniversary re-master. The riff is catchy one, the band sink into a groove with the song, with an ever so slight tinge of funk. Live versions of the song double the length thanks to more improvisational solos first from Lord followed by a brilliant Blackmore solo again with vocal interaction from Ian. The audience is extremely quiet and attentive during the beginning of Child In Time, the song is the culmination of their desire for the dramatic, Ian’s wails are so freakin’ powerful it makes the hair on your neck stand up, you can feel the power of the band as they kick in full power behind him but the recording device is able to withstand the onslaught. Paice and Glover set the groove, Lord takes the first solo section with a jazz infused segment that leads to a furious blast from his Hammond. Like Lord, Ritchie’s spot begins slowly, he noodles around not doing much then comes on like a hurricane and lays waste to the stage. His fingers assault the frets with no mercy for his guitar, or the audience. The chaotic ending is superb and the song garners respectable applause for their efforts. Curiously Paint It Black receives a loud ovation from the audience, the bands interpretation of the piece is instrumental, but unmistakable. Blackmore and Lord compliment each other well on the melody lines and the song was a vehicle for Ian Paice to show off his skills, which he does brilliantly.

The second disc consists of the two epics from the Mark I era that begins with Wring That Neck. The song is a perfect amalgamation of Jazz, classical, and boogie styles in a chase like format, much of the time its Ritchie who is wring his neck (guitar of course) and Lord follows. Improvisation at its best with two world class soloists the song is a joy to listen to, you get the feeling that no one is rushed and that the music is happening organically. Improvisation also leads to ideas, you can here a slight phrasing of the as of yet written The Mule at the 14:14 mark and a nice take on Greensleeves at 18 minute mark, shades of things to come. Blackmore seems to get into his own space and keeps the band waiting to end the song while he noodles around. He also quotes the traditional God Save The Queen as well as holiday favorite’s White Christmas and Jingle Bells, much to the amusement of the audience. The recording ends with Mandrake Root, from the first Deep Purple record. Not a jazz rave up like Wring That Neck, more of pseudo metal grinding riff, Glover holds down the bottom end while Lord and Paice interact nicely with a call and beat style thing before Lord begins his early domination, Blackmore lurks in the songs underbelly almost waiting to attack. Ten minutes in Lord finally relents after a very enjoyable work out that tinges on classic space rock for lack of a better word. Blackmore utilizes feedback and showmanship early on and dazzles the audience with both his incredible takes on virtuosity and carnage. Such is the bands enjoyment of this piece that the middle section would be the basis for the improvisation segment of live versions of Space Truckin’ in later years.

The packaging is simple inserts housed in a slim lined jewel case, the stark white makes for a visual attractive set and is a typically nice set by Darker Than Blue. While many of these early Purple sets would not appeal to the casual collector, to those who dare to take the chance will find an incredible, visceral performance by a band who, during this time, where an extremely powerful unit.

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  1. thanx for this great and very interesting review. speaking of “Speed King”, anybody know if the version of “Speed King” on the Deep Purple 1CD “Purplemania!” (Burning Machine Heads label) is actually from 1973, in London, as it’s claimed to be? did Deep Purple ever play “Speed King” at all in ’73? also, anybody know of any live shows that Deep Purple did in 1985 in which Ritchie Blackmore briefly played the guitar riff for “Rat Bat Blue” besides both shows in Detroit and the one in Philadelphia? i’m looking for pressed silver original CD releases that feature it. thankx, as always


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