Whenever I write about Deep Purple, I always mention that, no matter what classic rock radio would try and have you believe, the band has a rich history that goes way beyond Smoke On The Water. Sure, Machine Head is probably their definitive moment, the album that should have already put them in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. However, there is more to Deep Purple than just one album, or even one line-up.
The folks at Eagle Rock recently released the 8 track Deep Purple Live in California 1974, capturing the line-up of David Coverdale (vocals), Glenn Hughes (bass/vocals), Ritchie Blackmore (guitar), Jon Lord (keyboards) and Ian Paice (drums) at the massive California Jam Festival, where the band played in front of 200,000 fans and more watching on television. This version of Deep Purple had recently released the album Burn, the first with Coverdale and Hughes, and it’s a great rock record, a bit of a hidden classic that deserves a wider audience to this day.
In California, the band were on fire, playing tracks from Burn (including a smoking version of the title track) along with previous Purple hits like the aforementioned Smoke on the Water and Space Truckin‘. Listening back, this doesn’t feel like a band in transition; instead, it’s one reinvigorated and ready to rock and at all costs. In many ways, this version of the band belongs to Glenn Hughes and David Coverdale. Neither of them sound or feel like ringers for the men they replace – they excuse confidence throughout their entire performance. While Coverdale is the consummate frontman, even back in the early ’70s, Deep Purple’s not-so-hidden weapon live and in studio at this time was Glenn Hughes. Along with being a great bassist, Hughes is a strong vocalist who both shares leads and does great harmonies with Coverdale.
While Live In California may not become as well known as Deep Purple’s Made In Japan, it perfectly captures Deep Purple Mark III (as this line-up is known) in action. For fans, it’s a must-have. For newcomers to this version of the band, it’s not a bad place to start either.
Deep Purple Live in California 1974 is available now from Eagle Rock.