Play Für Elise (TCDDP-10-1,2)
Thursday, May 24, 1973, Boston Music Hall, Boston, MA, USA
Disc One: 01. Monitor Check; 02. Highway Star; 03. Smoke On The Water; 04. Strange Kind Of Woman; 05. Child In Time
Disc Two: 01. Keyboard Solo ~ Jam; 02. Lazy; 03. Drum Solo; 04. The Mule; 05. Lazy; 06. Keyboard Solo; 07. Space Truckin’; 08. Jam; 09. Space Truckin’; 10. Lucille
Tarantura’s The Palace 1972 presented an American audience recording of Deep Purple in its heyday, and mere months after their shows in Japan in August of 1972 that resulted in one of the greatest live albums ever, Made in Japan. The commercial and artistic successes of Deep Purple’s Mark II line-up of Blackmore, Gillan, Glover, Lord and Paice, which existed from 1969 to 1973, rivaled the accomplishments of other super groups during that time period such as Led Zeppelin, The Who, and Rolling Stones. For many fans, these were Deep Purple’s best years.
Incredibly, Gillan and Glover left the band in late June, 1973. They apparently took that extreme step to avoid being replaced by Blackmore, which is believable given Blackmore’s alleged contractual and other subsequent mistreatment of members of Rainbow as detailed in Roy Davies’ excellent book, Rainbow Rising: The Story of Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow. Jon Lord reportedly described Gillan and Glover’s departure as “the biggest shame in rock and roll, ever…,” an undeniable truth for devout fans of the Mark-II lineup. But it was apparent into 1973 that Ritchie Blackmore had become more prominent in the band’s direction, and allegedly with the permission of Deep Purple’s management.
Tarantura’s Play Für Elise contains a superb audience recording from May 24, 1973 by the heralded Joe Maloney. The concert, played about one month before Gillan and Glover departed, was different in feel than The Palace 1972 concert recording because of elements like Blackmore’s signature improvisations before songs including “Smoke on the Water” and “Strange Kind of Woman.” These musical detours did not occur in the 1972 recording, but would be commonplace with Rainbow on stage in the following years. Another difference in Play Für Elise is the quality of its recording, with excellent detail in each band member’s performance captured in expansive and exquisite sound. Gillan is as fully audible as Paice, with Lord and Blackmore dueling equally and all to our benefit. An objective listener of this concert would not expect the demise of this super group that was about to happen.
Disc one opens with a very happy crowd greeting the band as it made its way onto stage. Jon Lord quickly created the feeling of a musical cathedral as Ian Paice loosened-up around his mounted and floor toms. Blackmore delivered some angry string bending maneuvers as Ian Gillan gave a whoop to the crowd as Paice’s single-stroke snare drum pattern emerged to lead them all into a blistering “Highway Star.” Gillan was in great and powerful voice and the version of this classic show opener was recorded beautifully. Lord’s solo was crystal clear while we hear the driving rhythm of Blackmore, Glover and Paice barreling alongside of him. Then it was Ritchie’s turn, and he was on fire from the start with meticulous dexterity paired-up with his unmistakable aggression. Given the presumed cassette tapes used to record this concert, which frequently sounded worse in the beginning because of repeated rewinds, plays, and eventual warble, the clarity of this opener is impressive. As could be expected, this recording improved nicely in later tracks as explained later in this review.
Gillan compliments Boston and the venue before introducing “Smoke on the Water” with a bit about the song’s background. A short Blackmore and Paice jam ensued along with enthusiastic audience participation and then the song was performed much like the version on Made in Japan. Paice’s hi-hat work was creative and active in this number, which ended with an excellent interplay between Lord and Gillan, and then Lord and Blackmore.
Gillan introduced a “sad story” about “evil friends” told in a song called “Strange Kind of Woman,” which was next in the set. Once again a spirited jam is improvised before the song, this time between Blackmore, Glover, and Paice, which ended with Paice counting off on his hi-hats to launch his syncopated pattern with Blackmore to start the song. Gillan’s vocal prowess was again on full display, although Blackmore’s separate solos – some of which involved shredding – arguably stole any spotlight. Paice’s phenomenal drum pattern after the second Blackmore solo, which he accented with off-beat cowbell strikes, co-existed perfectly with the call and response between Gillan and Blackmore. This, again, gave no glimpse that these two stars were in the process of drifting apart. The full band rejoined with an explosion of sound that stopped on the dime for Gillan to belt out and hold notes through some startling octaves.
Another “old one” was introduced by Gillan, which turned out to be an incredible version of “Child in Time.” There was an improved, expansive quality to the recording at this point, with Lord’s organ keys as clear as Paice’s cymbal accents and floor toms. Of course, this was Gillan’s true spotlight song and he hit the ear piercing notes with apparent ease and frequency. Lord’s first solo had an ethereal quality to it that was obliterated by the violent attack of Blackmore’s solo in the next section of the song, which was all expertly drawn to a close together by Lord and Blackmore. Paice then laid down military snare patterns as Lord improvised to segue Gillan back into the song. With the overall quality of the recording now being superb, we are treated to what was the controlled madness that ended this song in stunning clarity. The close of disc one would be, for all intents and purposes, the effective end of Ian Gillan’s moments in the spotlight during this concert because much of the rest of this concert was dominated by the genius virtuoso musicians in this band.
“Lazy” opens disc two with a wicked keyboard solo by the late, great Jon Lord. Sarcastically calling himself “Rick Emerson” after “Mistreated” on Purple’s Live in London commercial release – a likely reference to Rick Wakeman and Keith Emerson – Lord spontaneously and beautifully played Beethoven’s Für Elise to the large crowd’s approval. He followed that with an upbeat carnival organ snippet before extracting painful screams from the instrument that then exchanged barbs with Blackmore before launching into an excellent “Lazy.” All instruments, with Gillan’s brief vocals and harmonica, were recorded clearly and beautifully.
Ian Paice’s drum solo interrupted “Lazy” for about six minutes. In it he again incorporated remarkable snare drum work, which we hear as clearly as we can his hi-hat cymbals keeping time throughout. Another signature segment was the incredible speed of his pedal on the single bass drum going simultaneously with different snare patterns. The depth of his mounted and floor tom-toms were also captured in startling, intimate detail for any fan of Paice’s phenomenal abilities. As a side note, it would’ve been interesting indeed if he had a drum duel with John Bonham like Buddy Rich and Gene Krupa did years earlier, although the outcome likely would’ve been different than how Rich mopped the floor with Krupa.
A quick reference to “The Mule” follows that leads to the conclusion of “Lazy” and Gillan saluting “Ian Paice on the drums – yes!!” to the crowd’s delight.
“Space Truckin’” went next for about thirty minutes. It opened with a great keyboard solo before Gillan kicked the crowd up as the band tore in. Awesome power! As always the song provided a great platform for instrumental experimentation and improvisation. About 3:20 in Blackmore and Paice chased each other just before Glover laid down the pattern to bridge them all to the deeper and more indulgent sections of the song. A thirteen minute instrumental proceeded from there, on the rock solid groove laid by Glover and Paice and with an extended organ and synthesizer solo by Lord that was likely accompanied by visual special effects given the audience’s different responses. It is easy to imagine a virtually hypnotic atmosphere in the place at that point, which ended about eight minutes later when it became Ritchie’s turn in the spotlight.
A dramatic drop in tempo enabled Blackmore to slowly leak in with his moody playing. Starting with volume knob work and prodigious feedback, we’re treated to “Greensleeves” in half-speed at about 11:20 into the track, again foreshadowing his magnificent use of this piece in his subsequent Rainbow years. The string bending then began as the tempo ratcheted up amidst audience whistling, and for the last five minutes of indulgence and stage exploits that left the audience first in shock and then screaming for more. After about four minutes of stomping applause, the band came back to reward the audience with a rocking encore of “Lucille” that was accented with an up tempo conclusion and played with as much gusto as ever. It is indeed hard to believe that this excellent band would be no more about one month after this stunning performance.
As always, Tarantura presents this masterpiece in its distinctive glossy paper sleeve decorated with great pictures and imagery from the era. Tarantura continues to offer collectors invaluable historic documents such as this show that are also gorgeous to behold, making it essential for both Deep Purple and rock and roll fans alike.