Berlin 1971 (Darker Than Blue 157/158)
Deutschlandhalle, Berlin, Germany – May 21, 1971
Disc 1 (37:49) MC, Strange Kind Of Woman, Into The Fire, Child In Time, Paint It Black
Disc 2 (53:32) Mandrake Root, Black Night, Lucille
The recording of Deep Purple’s concert in Berlin, Germany in May 1971 has been circulating for years, it has seen a previous silver release as Berlin 1971 (DPC001) and a incomplete version of the tape was used. When Jon Lord passed away earlier this year it sparked a “flood” of DP torrents on a well know tracker and a multitude of these have been pressed by Darker Than Blue. Agree with it or not, I chose to use this as an opportunity to expand my collection of Mark II era Deep Purple.
The recording used for this release is as complete as it is going to get unless a longer or alternate tape surfaces. It is sadly incomplete, missing the first song played, Speed King, and is missing a few minutes of the drum solo during Paint It Black and the end of Lucille is cut. The sound is poor to fair, distant with some slight hiss but very listenable once your ears adjust. Ian’s vocals are very clear as is the guitar and keyboards with the drums getting lost at times in the mix. There are cuts after most of the songs also.
Deep Purple circa 1971 were a powerhouse live and this translates to this tape, it begins with Ian Gillan asking someone, presumably the taper what the microphone was for. The Germans seem to have been know for taping as many Pink Floyd recordings have surfaced during this same time period in Germany. After he asks the question there is a cut and the band go into Strange Kind Of Woman. This is where things get interesting as the tape that circulated has a different running order and this release has configured the songs to be in their correct running order based on know set lists from the period.The song itself is growing in length and features the well loved vocal call and response improvisation by Gillan and Blackmore, just prior he plays a nice blues solo and Ian joins in. There is an obvious chemistry during this song and Ian laughs as if he is enjoying himself, Jon Lord even gets into the mix, ever so slightly.
“A Moralistic type of tale” is next, a blistering version of Into The Fire from the In Rock album, the song sounds particularly heavy on this night. After the first part of the song the band slows it down as Blackmore goes into a blues that is very effective. The majority of the firs disc is made up of Child In Time, clocking in at just over 20 minutes it is epic in every way and at this time is the set centerpiece and a masterful take on improvisation. There is some chatter around the taper during the quiet beginning but they soon settle down to listen. The song sounds gentle as Ian sings the first ooooohhh ooooohhhh before the band goes into the heavy part and he begins his wail in dramatic fashion. Blackmore takes the first solo and sets the pace follow by Jon Lord, it should be noted that by the time the latter takes over Ian Piace and Roger Glover have settled into an almost boogie foundation on which Lord solos over.Ten minutes in Blackmore re enters and starts a duel with Lord and we are the winners before he lets it rip into the stratosphere, the others can just watch in awe as his fingers cascade over the frets and eventually lead back in the main theme about 15 minutes into the piece.
The ending of the song has the band transitioning into a jam that leads in Paint It Black, it sounds as if the band is not quit ready to go and Lord does some pre song warm ups before the whole band enters. I like the versions they play, reminds me of the way Blackmore would interpret the Yardbirds Still I’m Sad. Of course the song is a vehicle for Ian Piace to solo over. Unfortunately the song is cut eliminating most of his solo and the whole song lasts just 3 minutes 45 seconds.
The second disc starts out with Mandrake Root, an epic version clocking in a over 36 minutes in length and is the ultimate vehicle for improvisation. Lord takes the first solo and goes through a variety of themes including a very metal psychedelic sounding section that hammers the audience. All the while Blackmore lays in the background and keeps the steady riff going before entering into the fray with a sort of Hendrix influenced theme before slowing the song to almost a dead stop while he and Lord Trade somber sounding notes and themes and Glover even gets into the fray briefly.
Black Night has a slow blues introduction via Lord and the audience is joyed to heard Piace do his drum count in. Blackmore do a solo duet where they mimic each other to great effect, they get a loud ovation for their efforts. The band finish up with their take on Little Richards Lucille, Ian gets the crowd to clap along, something they are than willing to do. There is again a blues jam to open the song, this time Blackmore and Gillan take the lead before crashing into the song. Fast and furious it is a fitting end to the concert and always a welcome encore.
The packaging is typical Darker Than Blue fare, mostly black and white shots of the band and a picture of the ticket and concert poster that adds nicely and makes it much more complete as a document. Wether you agree with the choice to re arrange the songs or not is a mute point and while the poor sound quality will certainly not appeal to the casual collector but is geared more the for hardened fan.