When Ritchie Blackmore left Deep Purple in early 1975, many fans figured that the band was over. But with the arrival of worthy replacement Tommy Bolin, the band was suddenly back in business with the oft-overlooked Come Taste the Band release. What the prior members of Deep Purple didn't know, however, is that their new guitarist had a serious drug problem, which hampered his playing by the time the group landed in Japan for a series of shows in December of 1975. With Bolin allegedly having no feeling in one of his arms on the night of a Purple gig at the Budokan, the show was to be taped for a future release. Upon hearing the results on Last Concert in Japan, it's obviously a sad attempt by the record label to squeeze every last drop of money from the fans. As evidenced by his playing on Come Taste (as well as his work with Billy Cobham and the James Gang), Bolin was an exceptionally skilled guitarist, which only makes his ragged playing on Last Concert even more glaring. That said, the rest of the band sounds respectable, especially on such tracks as "You Keep on Moving." But when Bolin takes center stage to perform "Wild Dogs" (a highlight from his great solo debut, Teaser), his inept playing is at its most evident. In subsequent interviews, Purple members even slagged off Last Concert in Japan. For a much better Bolin-era Deep Purple recording, be sure to check out the group's King Biscuit Flower Hour release.
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AllMusic Review by Greg Prato