Deep Purple – Bournemouth 1971 Revisited (Darker Than Blue DTB-317/318)

Bournemouth 1971 Revisited (Darker Than Blue DTB-317/318)

Winter Gardens, Bournemouth, UK – September 29, 1971

Disc 1 (47:30) Intro, Highway Star, Strange Kind Of Woman, No No No, Child In Time

Disc 2 (48:51) The Mule incl. Drums Solo, Lazy, Fireball, Speed King, Lucille

Fireball is a unique album in Deep Purple’s Mark II catalog, to my ears it’s unique with an almost progressive feel over the bombast of In Rock. Written over many months between tours and such, the experimental nature of the music did not lend itself to the stage, Purple’s true home. Interesting statement considering that more than half of the album’s songs would be tried out onstage, with only Strange Kind Of Woman and The Mule making the long haul. After the album’s release in September 1971, the band hit the road to support it after a much needed month long break, even more curious is the inclusion of two songs which would eventually appear on their next album. The story is famous, the band traveling by bus with a load of reporters, one of whom asks Blackmore how they write songs, he starts a riff and it’s so engaging the band work it up during that night’s soundcheck and Highway Star makes its live debut that evening in Portsmouth. Within a weeks time Lazy would also be added to the set, curiously placed late in the set.

The recording from the southern coastal city of Bournemouth had a 4,000 seat capacity and comes just less than a month into the UK tour to support Fireball. The near complete audience source falls into the good range, at times almost touches the very good range. The guitar, vocals, and organ are nicely placed in the sound-stage, the bass is fairly defined and the drums are a bit buried but keen bootlegs ears can pick them up. There is a bit of phasing at times, perhaps from a poorly aligned tape head. Deep Purple was a very loud band and were certainly difficult to record with the field equipment of that time, hence many of these early tapes are not sonically perfect. This is a very listenable recording and the performance is good, not great as the band suffer from equipment issues much of the second half of the concert, every time they get it together, long tunes ups hamper the momentum.

There has been two prior releases of this recording, Autumn Of 1971 (Bondage Music BON 247/248/249) is a three disc set with Bournemouth on the first two CDs and Vienna September 4, 1971 on the third. It would be some years for the next title, Bournemouth 1971 (Darker Than Blue DTB-261/262) was released by the Purple specialized label, now we are to its successor, Bournemouth 1971 Revisited, which features mastering by Graf Zeppelin. Having the old Bondage title on my shelf and with the recent Rainbow titles piquing my interest, I figured it’s time for an upgrade. This new version of Bournemouth is a nice upgrade indeed, the soundstage is greatly improved, wider frequencies, the highs are much better and clearer. You can actually hear Paice’s hi-hat cymbal now. The old Bondage title, once so enjoyed sounds rather flat and dated.

The band take the stage to a warm ovation, Ian greets the audience, “Good morning, cheers! Nice to be here again, give us a couple minutes to get things tuned up, we’ve got a few new things for you tonight”. The band tune up and it’s interesting to hear the tuning evolve into a drone and Paice starts that familiar drum beat to Highway Star. The song is pretty much fully formed, save for the lyrics which are still pretty half improvised but Ian’s delivery is fantastic, he has that swagger! Ritchie’s does a great solo, quite different from what would be on the Machine Head record, but that why we dig these recordings, hearing music formed while playing.

“Thank you, that was a new one called Highway Star that one…we’re gonna…we got a few new things…nice to be back here anyway…we got uh this is a record we had a few months ago as a single and it’s um…it’s a story about a friend of ours and a lady he went with who wasn’t really any good…a true story…Strange Kind Of Woman”. Released as a single in the UK in February 1971, the song made its stage debut a month prior and is featured early in the set. The song has the long improve in the middle which has Ian and Ritchie trading yelps, always effective, Jon Lord throws some accompaniment in which is really interesting. No No No follows, like most of the songs in the set it features improvisation, Jon Lord takes the first middle part solo, this gives way to a lyrical drum improve which almost sounds like Ian is trying to engage the crowd, it pretty much kills the momentum.

“Right, this is a quiet one and a loud one, all bound together” is an apt introduction to Child In Time which gets a huge ovation, for good reason. The band are still playing long versions of this song, tonight clocking in at over 16 minutes. Lord takes the first solo spot and it’s very Jazzy, Blackmore gives Lord the space but knows when to get involved, although his need to tune his guitar could have been disastrous but he makes it interesting, just in time for a full on call and response chase that is intense. The Blackmore solo that follows is brutal, the aftermath has the crowd in a dead silence, Gillan’s vocal after is clear and sounds as if sent from heaven, a savior. The chaotic ending is quite heavy, Roger’s bass runs are well heard and fantastic, Blackmore’s guitar is buried in the mix, fabulous version.

“It’s a number on the new album, it’s a lot different to how we recorded it, it’s twice as fast and we changed it around a little bit this time it’s…we’re using it as sort of a vehicle for little Ian, whose going to play something around it…this is a song about bad influences and the Devil, silly things like that…it’s a thing called The Mule”. One long introduction that is needed, the band is out of tune and it takes them a bit to get ready. One of my favorites from Fireball, odd timing and drum pattern from Paice, the band never get it going and the transition into the drum solo just kind of happens. There is a tape cut at 2:50 which picks up with improved sound and Ian taking center stage with an excellent drum solo that has a rather chopped feeling as there might be another cut / pause at the 4:35 mark as well. Big fan of Mr. Paice, certainly one of the 70’s best drummers.

“We’ve got another new one which we haven’t recorded it yet and…we wrote this just a couple weeks ago. We played it a few times and we couldn’t really figure out what it was…how to categorize it cause people want to know what kind of number it is. We eventually decided it’s a rhythm and blues sort of thing…a thing called Lazy”, another long intro as Blackmore can’t seem to stay in tune. Lord provides a pastoral intro for the song which gets a nice round of applause from the audience. The Blues based shuffle is very effective, Ian’s lyrics are a bit different and he blows some harp as well that works. Blackmore seems to have gotten his gear in check and is getting back into the performance, he does some real nice almost picking while the others let him! Ian is at a loss for words during the tune up for Fireball, which when it kicks in is devastatingly fast. The band improvise in the middle due to Blackmore’s guitar, must have not packed and extra, the main set ends with a much needed break.

The band return to the stage with two flat out slabs of molten Rock beginning with Speed King, full speed proto Thrash Metal if I’ve ever heard it. Sure the band do that funky middle section but the song effective, so much that the audience are out of their heads and they loudly chant for more and the band return for a killer version of Little Richard’s Lucille. Blackmore is finally having fun, so is Jon Lord whose Hammond is perfect in the mix and he is killing it, playing organ almost Jerry Lee Lewis style. The band are in the groove and finish the song in double time, the audience are delirious as the feedback echoes from the stage…”Thank you…God bless You” is Ian’s farewell to Bournemouth. For those who like this and want more, Bristol 1971 (Darker Than Blue 152/153) is from the following night’s concert September 30, the performance it not as plagued with troubles, the sound is a notch down, the performance is excellent. 

The inserts feature outtakes from the Fireball album photo shoot plus some very cool live shots to round it off. Of course the numbered sticker is here and the discs have a cool photo on them, all the best. Bournemouth is an interesting tape, the live Fireball period was short lived and the band just was not into making the songs work in the live setting and was transitioning to the more straightforward music they were creating for Machine Head. Sometimes these transitional period concerts are the most fun to listen to, this concert is just that, well played but lacking focus during certain areas. This requires a bit of patience from the listener at times but the reward is there. This is not a title for the casual listener, more for the committed Purple collector.    

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