Deep Purple

History, Hits and Highlights 1968-1976

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Over the years, a multitude of vintage Deep Purple clips have surfaced in various places (import VHS tapes, YouTube, etc.), but many are of varying picture/sonic quality, and haphazardly assembled. With the arrival of 2009's double-DVD set, History, Hits and Highlights 1968-1976, Purple's glory years are finally documented -- visually and definitively. And they sure do pack a lot of Purple in these two discs, as the whole thing runs approximately 287 minutes. Kicking things off is a brief bit appropriately titled "History," which combines video clips and interview snippets to outline Purple's career from inception to their first breakup, and is done so without an annoying narrator voice-over outlining every little nook and cranny. From there, you get to the real meat and potatoes of the set, which are vintage performances -- half of which are lip-synced, the other half live and loud. Expectedly, most of the promo clips and/or lip-synched items are a snooze (although it's interesting to see the bandmembers' "hippie" fashions from back in the day), especially a pointless clip for "Strange Kind of Woman," which focuses on a female motorcycle rider zipping around. Another disappointing bit is a segment titled "Fireball Writing Session," which doesn't include interviews with bandmembers or any real insight into the album's recording or writing. But that said, the live footage here certainly makes this set worth the price of admission. Tops would be a sweaty take of "Demon's Eye" (you'll see why it's "sweaty" when you watch it), as well as what is probably the finest live performance of the collection, "No No No," and an oft-seen live-on-Euro-TV rendition of "Highway Star" (during which Ian Gillan makes some peculiar lyric ad libs). While the majority of History, Hits and Highlights focuses on what many consider Purple's definitive "MK II" lineup, you will also find a pair of solid performances from the "MK III" lineup (fronted by David Coverdale), including "Mistreated" from the mammoth Cal Jam '74 Festival -- although the now-famous footage of Ritchie Blackmore going haywire at the end of the set would have fit nicely (a truncated version is seen during the "History" segment on the disc). And while the "MK IV" lineup of the group did issue an underrated album, 1976's Come Taste the Band, the two live performances here fall flat -- due to an arm injury suffered by guitarist Tommy Bolin in Japan (where the footage is from). For some splendid vintage footage of one of rock's all-time great bands, History, Hits and Highlights 1968-1976 is a must-see.

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