Bands tend to change members about as often as I change my disposable razor. Heck, in some cases perhaps more often. (I really need to get a new razor) Whether it is a lead singer or perhaps a drummer, in some cases nobody is safe when people start arguing (ask Michael Anthony of Van Halen). But for this review, I was presented with a band that had changed members quite a few times. In fact, only one of the original members remains and he is the drummer. Meet Deep Purple.
Deep Purple was formed in the late 1960’s. The original lineup included Jon Lord, Ritchie Blackmore, Nick Simper, Rod Evans, and Ian Paice. The band was originally called Roundabout but after their first tour quickly changed their name to Deep Purple after Blackmore grandmother’s favorite song. They broke thru the rock world after and released three albums numbers that would do quite well in the US as well as abroad in the UK.
However, in 1969 they fired Simper and Evans and eventually found Ian Gillan for vocals and Roger Glover on bass. Interestingly enough, these two members are on the band today (but they did have absences). At this point was really when the group started to get popular. They broke away from earlier albums that saw many covers and into original music. This is also where they wrote their best songs, including “Highway Star”, “Space Truckin”, and “Smoke on the Water”.
Unfortunately in the mid-70’s, the band split up due to differences and drugs. This was largely in part to guitarist Tommy Bolin who had joined the band in 1975. He had a heavy hand in the album “Come Taste the Band”. However, his drug issues led to cancelled shows and crappy concerts. After the band publicly split up in July 1976, it was only several months later when Bolin was found dead at the age of 25. Drugs had played his final hand.
Deep Purple reformed in 1984 with most of the classic lineup which included Gillan, Paice, Glover, Blackmore and Lord. They had retained their popularity and continued to play. However, more arguments eventually led Blackmore to leave in 1993 and Steve Morse filled the guitar spot which led them to a new creative freedom. Don Airey joined the band in 2001 when Jon Lord eventually decided to step down from keyboards and retire.
Now, let’s step back to the turbulent seventies and introduce two more members (I told you they had a lot of members). There is Glenn Hughes on bass who joined the band in 1973. He would later go on to front Black Sabbath for a short time and is currently fronting a supergroup with Jason Bonham called Black Country Communion. The band also had a different lead singer in this time. His name is David Coverdale. If that is not well known enough, think of the great glam band, Whitesnake.
Coverdale, Hughes, Lord, Paice and Tommy Bolin would make the lineup known as MKIV. (basically the fourth version of the band) This is also the lineup that would eventually crumble in 1976. But in the brief time they were together they put together some amazing concerts. One such concert commonly known as Deep Purple Rises Over Japan happened on a December night of 1975. Unfortunately, only 5 songs (Burn, Love Child, Smoke on the Water, You Keep on Moving and Highway Star) remain.
These songs represent the first part of this blu-ray presentation. The second part is the long-waited (at least to fans of Deep Purple and classic hard rock) Getting Tighter documentary. This takes recent interviews with Glenn Hughes and Jon Lord and mixes it with classic footage from the time period. It is an interesting look at the best /worst of times and tries to explain what the heck happened to one of the best hard rock bands of all time.
The documentary and accompanying concert are an excellent look of a band in turmoil and the reflection many years later. I would have preferred to see Coverdale and Paice to chime in on the proceedings. However, perhaps due to Paice being on tour with the current Deep Purple and Coverdale’s huge ego, we probably can not reasonably expect that. Despite their lack of inclusion, this is still a great film about a rock band dealing with their demons and their eventual (but not forever) split.
The video is in 1.78:1 widescreen presentation in 1080i resolution. As you will find with the audio, this is really a hard judge. We are dealing with two sources, old concert footage remnants and recent interviews. They did do an excellent job of restoring the footage as best they could. I imagine that they had very little to work with. The recent interviews look fine and you can see plenty of detail in the flesh tones of Glenn Hughes and Jon Lord. For better or for worse.
For the audio portion, we get a 5.1 English DTS-HD track (2.0 DTS-HD also included). The 5.1 DTS is only for the concert footage. Again, it sounds about as good as one could hope for. It is not going to rock your speakers off the ground but it serves as a wonderful concert. As an aficionado of Coverdale, I realized immediately who I was listening to, just a much younger version. The 2.0 for interviews and extras also work out quite well. Subtitles are included (in the documentary) for English, Spanish, French and Deutsch.
- Audio Extra: The Official Soundtrack and More 70:13 : This includes more songs from this turbulent time from concerts in Longbeach and Japan. As it indicates, there is no video here to speak of and all we get is audio. Considering there simply is not any other footage to speak of, we will gladly take this. This is quite lengthy and my only criticism would be that they should have been placed on a companion cd. Great stuff.
- Jakarta, 1975: Interview with Jon Lord & Glenn Hughes 7:03: More interview time with our two principle band members. This was the first American band to play in this Indonesian city. However, this would lead to tragedy when one of the crew members died. Members of Deep Purple were thrown in jail on suspicion of murder. Dogs were let go by the army into the audience that would bite people and maim children. Deep Purple was robbed of thousands and thousands of dollars. A cautionary tale for sure but they lived to tell the tale.
- Come Taste the Band: Electronic Press Kit 19:24: One of the other limited pieces of video footage from the band’s era mixed in with more interview footage. I can honestly say I might seek out the cd since I am a huge fan of hard rocking music and Coverdale vocals. The re-master from 2007 goes for about $13 while the 35th anniversary 2 disc version (which includes a remix cd) goes for a shade over $20 on Amazon.
One additional note: It is important to mention that I had some difficulty with the menus. It seems that the active color (the item you are trying to select) was a color that was only slightly different from the normal text color. Therefore, one had to really look hard at the menu screen to determine where you were. They should have used purple. (Pun intended)
This is not the typical hard rocking blu-ray from Eagle Rock Entertainment. It is a welcome departure from the full on blazing concerts in 5.1 DTS-HD quality that will crash your speakers and make your neighbors beat down your door. Deep Purple’s Phoenix Rising contains a fantastic documentary and some great supplements. I would have liked to see more involvement from other former Deep Purple members but Lord and Hughes carry the load and make for an entertaining listen.
The disc has above average audio and video though this is my hardest judge since I started to review the Eagle Rock discs because of the source material. This stuff is ancient by most standards and most of the original footage is lost forever. Enjoy everything on this disc as an important piece of history especially if you are into Deep Purple or hard rock. I give this a hearty recommendation. Remember kids, drugs are bad unless you are snorting coke off a stripper’s behind. Then it is just unsanitary. Enjoy.