Circus Khrone ‘70 (Darker Than Blue 056)
Circus Khrone, Munich, Germany – December 5, 1970
Intro., Yodel, Speed King, Into The Fire, Child In Time, Mandrake Root, Black Night, Lucille
1970 was an extremely busy year for the new Deep Purple line up. Their LP In Rock and single “Black Night” were both released in June and the band were involved with almost non-stop touring of the UK, US, and Europe involving several major high profile festivals in the summer. This is also the year where the first Deep Purple bootleg was recorded at their appearance in Aachen in July. After their flirtation with classical fusion, this represents their stake into the 1970’s hard rock idiom. The new songs are clear enough to claim their intent, but the way the songs were expanded with long improvisational passages and virtuoso displays. Circus Khrone ’70 presents on a single disc the December 5, 1970 Munich show and shows a band who has honed their stage act to a fine point. The performance recorded here is a demonic display of the full talents of the band. An earlier release of this show can be found on Muchen 12.70 (DP002), but Darker Than Blue is a bit more complete with Ian Gillan’s introduction before the opening song. The older title also ran a hair too fast while this one runs at the correct speed and pitch. The tape is a bit distant and the audience is very vocal and noisy, but it is clear enough to be enjoyed and captures the atmosphere of the show perfectly. There is a tape flip 3:43 in “Mandrake Root” and the sound quality noticeably improves. There is another cut at the very end of “Black Night” and beginning of “Lucille” but otherwise this contains the whole set list of this spirited show.
The tape begins with Gillan explaining to the audience that he split his trousers and has to change them. “Very exciting, isn’t it?” he quips before they start with “a thing we picked up in Switzerland…it has no message, no nothing, it goes like this.” The audience’s laughter and rhythmic clapping accompany “Yodel”. All joking aside, the set list begins with the chunky riff of “Speed King.” By the middle of the song the band play sotto voce and Gillan asks, “Do you know what a speed king is? A speed king is someone who moves from one place to another…a speed ling isn’t a child in time, child in time…it’s so quiet you can hear the zipping.” “Into The Fire” is “like a rock and roll banquet…with your trousers down.” The following song “Child In Time” is prefaced by inaudible comments and several gong smashes. This epic is eighteen minutes long and the people by the taper think the “jesus” screams are very funny. The sound quality becomes a bit fuzzier than the rest during the fast jazzy section in the middle (perhaps the tape couldn’t handle all the sound). It is great fun to hear Blackmore and Lord go back and forth with the main themes, engaging in their nightly virtuoso battle over the jazzy rhythm laid down by Glover and Paice. When the song returns to the main theme by the end most of the audience follow in silence, although some people sing along and giggle. Nevertheless this is a masterful version of the song.
The final song of the set is introduced as a “very root song…This is a thing called Mandrake Root.” Despite the cut this version is more than twenty minutes long. After “Lord takes over” he follows with experimental tones before settling on something more diatonic in the middle before Blackmore answers with haughty feedback and fuzz, followed by a more contemplative and serious sounding riff. He quotes riffs in several different styles and even produces a Yiddish sounding melody before returning to the feedback laden heavy metal riffs. The audience seems spellbound by the end of the piece and even those who were laughing during “Child In Time” are silent. Afterwards Gillan says, “maybe you can help me, I don’t speak German. We’ve come to Munich many times but this is the best time we’ve ever had in Munich. Listen, we got time for another, maybe one or two numbers…so you’ve got to give us two minutes to tune up the guitars.” “Black Night” contains an excellent organ solo by Lord in the middle. The final song, ”Lucille,” is a cover of the old Little Richard song which was a part of their set for many years and is a good old rock and roll number to remember the roots. Circus Khrone ’70 is another interesting and relevant release by Darker Than Blue. It is packaged with pretty glossy paper inserts with several photos from the appropriate tour and is limited to only three hundred copies. This label have quietly been setting the standard for Deep Purple releases the past couple of years by producing definitive editions of important shows. (GS)