Spring Auditorium, West Palm Beach, Florida, USA – July 14, 1972
(58:29) Highway Star, Smoke On The Water, Strange Kind Of Woman, The Mule, Lazy, Space Truckin’
1972 would be a year on the road for Deep Purple, their most recent record Machine Head, released in March of that year, was a hit making them a hot item on the live circuit. For this new release Darker Than Blue documents the band’s stop in the summer of 72 in West Palm Beach Florida. The recording is an incomplete audience source that falls into the poor to fair range, it is distant and suffers from distortion, Blackmore’s guitar is in the forefront, the bass and drums are virtually completely buried with vocals and keyboards heard but lower in the mix, there is a bit of crowd chatter also but this adds to the atmosphere of the event. The recording is also incomplete, there are cuts between every song and one can assume that Child In Time and an encore were either not recorded or not played possibly due to being a support act. I did some digging on the Internet and could not find a billing for the evening.
The beginning of the tape starts a few seconds into Highway Star, the recording is certainly at its poorest but does clear a minute in and from there plateau’s off. The sound sounds almost a bit fast to my ear also, but once your ears adjust to the sound you find that the band is playing very well, Blackmore is playing well and his fingers are nimble, he delivers a furious solo. Smoke On The Water sounds repetitive, since Blackmore is high in the mix the first thing you hear is the simple riff over and over and over, the always brilliant Strange Kind Of Woman features the obligatory call and response between Gillan and Ritchie that is always nice.
We finally get to hear Ian Paice proper during The Mule, he delivers an amazing drum solo and pounds the audience into mush, he gets a nice ovation that is abruptly cut. Jon Lord gets a bit of spotlight time at the organ jam that leads into a great band jam that will eventually get into Lazy and once the band gets into the song proper Blackmore leads the band through a game of catch me if you can, Lord proves he is up to the task. The audience is in a fever pitch as the band plays a shuffle that leads into Space Truckin’ they clap joyously along with the beginning of the song, there is a cut at 3:10 as the band almost sound like they are playing a variation of The Kinks’ You Really Got Me riff. The song eventually gets into the middle section of Mandrake Root that steamrolls the audience and ends in a feedback storm, the recording stops as the last notes of Lord’s organ fade. Great performance and I really love early 70’s live Purple, too bad so many recordings have crap sound.
The packaging is typical for Darker Than Blue, full color inserts made to look like the official Made In Japan release, some really nice live shots on the rear and inside. You get a collectable sticker and picture CD to boot. While it is nice to see a show that I don’t believe has been out on CD before, the poor sound will make this release for the Purple completes, casual buyer steer clear.