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Deep Purple - Live inCalifornia '74

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Well this is certainly an interesting DVD to watch, and sure to delight die-hard Deep Purple fans, both young and old. Live in California ‘74 was recorded during a major hype period for the band, and encompasses a wide range of their songs from the 1970s stretching across several albums.

It seems as though fans of Deep Purple have been waiting for this release for some time, as it contains some rarely seen footage of the band both on stage and behind the scenes (including shots of the band’s own Boeing 707 called ‘Starship’ arriving at the airport, presumably for this concert). The film has been available on VHS for some time, and its transfer to DVD format has ensured additional footage and treats. There are two other live Deep Purple DVDs — Made in Japan (the visual accompaniment to the renowned live album) and Live in Concert 1972 to 1973 — but neither of those provided the scope of material that Live in California ‘74 presents. If you will, it’s a chronicle.

The tracks are superbly mastered, and if you close your eyes you could almost believe that you are really there. There are only eight tracks on the DVD — yes, even Smoke on the Water — but they do range over a number of albums, including Machinehead, Burn, and Made in Japan. For me, the highlight of this release is undoubtedly Ritchie Blackmore’s superb guitar playing. Being from the ‘younger generation’ of Deep Purple fans, I am somewhat bitter that the current touring line-up of the band does not include Blackmore, so this is a reasonable compromise.

Although I can appreciate that this DVD comprises some rarely seen footage, the film quality itself is a bit of a let down. It is rather grainy, possibly so as not to take away from the rawness of it, but at times it just seems like an old made-for-TV recording for BBC. Even so, it is still enthralling to watch and, even if it does only appeal to the ‘real’ fans, it will still provide a sense of nostalgia for the millions who witnessed Deep Purple for themselves in the 1970s.

There are a few extras on Live in California ‘74, including photo galleries and written histories, but I think that most people would bypass these and opt instead to go directly to the concert.

All in all, this DVD has been a long time coming, and Deep Purple’s hordes of fans will no doubt be rushing to the record store to snap it up. It doesn’t come anywhere close to the calibre of other DVDs of bands from the same era (such as the absolutely breathtaking Led Zeppelin 2-DVD set of 2003), but it does a pretty decent job of it.

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