Deep Purple are remembered by most folks as the Ian Gillan-fronted hard rock band that recorded the iconic "Smoke on the Water," but as is the case with most recording artists, there's a whole lot more to the story, and in this case, the preamble part of Deep Purple's career might arguably actually be more exciting and interesting. The first incarnation of the band featured Rod Evans as the lead singer, and of course the guitar playing of Ritchie Blackmore, and if there's a better opening single for a band than Deep Purple's classic cover of Joe South's "Hush," well, there's little doubt "Hush" would hold its own. This two-disc set will be a treasure to Deep Purple fans, for it collects in one place for the first time all of the band's live BBC sessions between 1968 and 1970, and it catches both versions of Deep Purple and spotlights the transfer of one to the other. The sound, particularly on the first disc, is subject to minor imperfections on the master tapes, but it is always exciting and listenable, and the sound of the second disc is top-notch. There's a lot to be impressed with here, including two versions of "Hush," a sharp take on "Hey Joe," a racing version of Skip James' "I'm So Glad" (that owes a lot to Cream's arrangement of the song), and the fascinatingly ornate yet rocking "Bird Has Flown." A lot of these tracks have been issued as bonus tracks on other Deep Purple reissues, but this is the first time all of the BBC performances have been brought together.
AllMusic Review by Steve Leggett
Track Listing - Disc 1
Track Listing - Disc 2