Definitive Berlin 1971 (Darker Than Blue DTB-281/282)
Deutschlandhalle, Berlin, Germany – May 21, 1971
Disc 1 (51:41) Pre Show, Intro, Bavarian Yodeler, Speed King, Strange Kind Of Woman, Into The Fire, Child In Time
Disc 2 (56:04) MC, Paint It Black incl. Drum Solo, Mandrake Root, Black Night, Lucille
Back in 2012 I reviewed Berlin 1971 (Darker Than Blue DTB 157/158) and stated that the title was the best we could expect until a more complete or different source was to surface. In May of this year a second source for this concert was shared via a well known torrent site and is sourced from the original master reels, it is this recording that is the subject of Definitive Berlin 1971, this new title from the Darker Than Blue label.
The second source, like source 1, is an audience recording taped by Jörg K using a Telefunken Magnetophon 302TS in 4-Track Mono using a Telefunken-Reportermikrofon TS300. The second source, for the time, is a very good, near excellent mono recording. It is a testament to the original recording that the only real mastering done to this was to balance the channels and a slight volume adjustment, no other EQ was done. The sound is well balanced, clear and extremely detailed, everything is audible with the drums being just a tad in the background, the taper managed by isolate himself from the audience as they do not sound close, just enough for ambiance. There is a wonderful sound-stage and frequency range and the taper did an excellent job of capturing the power of the band. For a near fifty year old recording there is virtually no hiss and only a very small amount of distortion is present. This is certainly one of the best audience documents of 1971.
The first source was released prior on the titles Berlin 1971 (DPC001) and Berlin 1971 (Darker Than Blue DTB 157/158). There is no comparison between the first source and this new one, this new second recording is not only superior in sound, but also completeness. The taper kept the tape machine rolling and we get all of Ian’s between song comments and I did not detect any cuts in the music, there is a cut after Paint It Black with no music missing. Also on the previous Darker Than Blue title the first track entitled MC was Ian Gillan asking about a microphone in the audience, that is no where to be found on this recording and when I listen back to it, it does sound slightly different than the rest of the tape. I can only assume that that comment is indeed taken from a different concert all together.
Feel free to follow the link to my review of the previous Berlin 1971 title, it is a darn good show and quite well played although this new version of the concert does show Ritchie was having what sounds like equipment issues during Child In Time, he addresses it by the use of feedback and plays his first solo sounding rather uninspired and leaves the stage afterward while Jon Lord takes over. Blackmore comes back to spar and sounds like additional tuning is needed and the jam never really develops, instead Ritchie plays a ripping solo that leads back into the main theme and a very heavy ending, interesting to hear the difference in vibe on the more detailed recording.
The equipment issues are confirmed after the cut following Paint It Black. Jon Lord does a bit of talking about a shock, Ritchie begins to quietly noodle and Ian takes the microphone back and says “sorry about that what has happened, but I think he’s alright” eluding to Ritchie possibly getting shocked. Mandrake Root follows and starts off very heavy and powerful but Blackmore does sound like there are perhaps a few bugs left. Once he gets in he decides to use feedback to do his bidding, the Man In Black excising his demons. He does get into a Medieval bit that is really nice and Roger Glover follows him and just over 18 minutes in you can hear the main riff to Highway Star, no mistaking it. The onstage musical communication between the musicians is what really makes this period in Purple’s history so good, they knew how to listen.
The packaging is made up of inserts with mostly live shots of the band, the front cover features the band playing a very small venue, literally surrounded by fans, incredible shot. This same picture is also used for the CDs and let’s not forget the numbered sticker. It’s great to be able to have such a great recording surface after nearly fifty years and while the improved sound quality exposes some of the issues of the performance, it is also a sheer joy to listen to, a band struggling with issues but still turning in a good performance. For sound quality and completeness I would rate this new title as a must have for Purple Aficionados.