Deep Purple

Live at Montreux, 1996 [DVD]

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Masterful is the word for Eagle Vision's release of what liner note writer Geoff Barton calls Deep Purple Mark VII. It's the classic lineup of Ian Gillan, Roger Glover, Ian Paice, and Jon Lord along with the Dixie Dregs' guitarist Steve Morse. Morse adds such finesse to the music, contained crunch as opposed to Ritchie Blackmore's razzle-dazzle, that followers of the group actually have reason to rejoice. It's not a slap at Blackmore as much as the coordination of an outside force that breathes new life into material that has been pounded into the consciousness of rock and metal fans for decades. The freshness a guitarist from outside the genre brings to the table makes this superbly filmed set of concerts all the more intriguing. Ian Gillan's Live at the Rainbow 1977 takes two of the titles here in an entirely different direction with the hard pop sound of guitarist Ray Fenwick, these DVDs giving the hardcore fans an opportunity to explore the variety of changes these familiar songs would go through with so many members of the core group reworking some of the same material. There are 11 tracks recorded July 9, 1996, at the Auditorium Stravinski -- wonderfully directed by Gavin Taylor -- plus an additional five "bonus" tracks that are taken from the 2000 Montreux performance, with the same lineup, two years before Don Airey would replace the retiring Jon Lord. So this is the classic version of the group on both concerts with guitarist Morse taking the place of Blackmore. Gillan seems even more relaxed on the 2000 set, which includes their big comeback song, "Perfect Strangers," the stunning sound, visuals, and audience support making for an electric DVD. Because they are back at Montreux, Gillan makes a special speech regarding the band's history with the region. It is before the encore of "Smoke on the Water" from the 1996 date, but the monologue is lifted from the concert and given its own special section on the DVD: The Story of Smoke on the Water. That's the only extra, along with the Dolby Digital 5.1, though there is a nice six-page photo booklet with liners by the aforementioned Geoff Barton written in March of 2006. The only tune that is duplicated from both shows is "When a Blind Man Cries," so there are 16 selections and 15 different songs. Live in Montreux is a highly entertaining release from this veteran group and surprisingly original in its take on familiar work.

Track Listing

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blue highlight denotes track pick