January 19th 1973

“Lent Tarkus – E.L.P. to Johnny M and borrowed Machine Head and Deep Purple in Live Concert off Gra” / “T-1 day to get Moving Waves (If I have got enough money mite get Focus 3 instead)”

OK, I have officially confused my 50-year-old self here

Most of this is straightforward stuff, but I am having a hard time working out exactly what “Deep Purple in Live Concert” refers to.

I’m pretty certain I am not referring to Purple’s “Live in Japan” album, as I am sure, being something of a stickler for a certain level of teenage accuracy, I would have said “Live in Japan“.

The band, years later, did release a double live album entitled “Deep Purple in Concert” – which consisted of live BBC recordings from 1970 and 1972 – but this was not issued until 1980 at the earliest.

Therefore I am left with two possibilities.

One being that I am referring to Deep Purple’s ill-fated – and somewhat scary – ‘duet’ with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra entitled “Concerto for Group & Orchestra“, an ugly notion that, and please trust me on this, has got NO more prettier with time.

The second possibility is that Gra(ham) loaned me a…. gasp!…. bootleg recording of a concert. I do remember he travelled a lot with his father overseas and usually came back with ‘pirated cassettes’ of all the new release albums whenever he went to China or Japan. Could it be that an overseas foreign music pirate was also selling bootleg tapes? Erm….well, yes!

Machine Head” is much easier to scribble a few lines about.

It remains Deep Purple’s best-selling and most successful album. No wonder really when it contains seven seamless track, including the triple whammy of heavy metal classics that are “Highway Star”, “Space Truckin” and “Smoke on the Water”

Highway Star” was first conceived on a tour bus in the presence of a reporter who had asked the band how they wrote songs. Apparently, Ritchie Blackmore grabbed a guitar and started playing a simple riff to which Ian Gillan sang some improvised nonsensical lyrics. By the time the band had reached their destination, the song had been refined, completed and… was performed live on stage that very night for the first time!

As good as the riff and the song is, the thing that always makes it for me is that extended organ solo from Jon Lord. Stunning.

Talking of extended organ solos, lets do it all again for “Space Truckin” shall we Mr Lord? A sci-fi rock & roll boogie of epic proportions – albeit with dodgy lyrics – which features what can only be described as a “hammond freakout” by Purple’s keyboard player. Here’s a live version from New York in 1973….

Truly awesome

Smoke on the Water” is, for me, the ultimate rock riff. It is the only riff I can play, and to my wife’s continuing chagrin I attempt to play it on almost ANY kind of musical instrument you can think of. I think my highlight may be programming a whole set of children’s toys to play it simultaneously in a WalMart one, otherwise boring, afternoon a couple of years ago.

As most (rock &/or roll) people know, the song tells a true story about the band going to Montreux to record an album where, amongst other scheduling delays, they witnessed the city’s casino burn to the ground. A fan at the Frank Zappa concert being held in the casino’s auditorium shot a flare gun at the ceiling, setting fire to the rattan covering and eventually the whole building. Deep Purple watched the whole thing go up from across Lake Geneva (hence “smoke on the water” – d’UH!).

The rest of the cuts on “Machine Head” are no slouches either, although I’ve never personally cared too much for “Maybe I’m a Leo” or “Never Before”. “Pictures of Home” seems to be a weird showcase for every member of the band’s solo talents whilst “Lazy” is often regarded as another Heavy Rock “classic”.

Although, maybe surprisingly, this is NOT my personal favourite Purple album (I reserve that distinction for “Who Do We Think We Are?” – of which I am sure I shall talk more about later this diary year) it is, without hesitation, the one I always have, and always will, recommend to anyone thinking of popping their toes in Deep Purple (smoke-enhanced, or otherwise) waters for the first time.

My fevered anticipation for “Moving Waves” continues, although I see I have muddied my own pitch by now considering Focus’ ambitious double album “Focus 3” as a possible alternative.

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