History, Hits &
Despite the title, there’s
really only about 20 minutes
of “history” contained
on this two-disc set, at least
in terms of narrative. But
hits and highlights abound, and the very good
news is that there are mostly complete performances
of dozens of classic Purple tunes,
with few edits or interruptions, narrative or
otherwise. Four different lineups are showcased—
including the Mk. IV version in which
Tommy Bolin takes over guitar duties from
Ritchie Blackmore—underscoring the interpersonal
volatility of the band’s early years.
Fortunately, the majority of the performances
are by the classic ’69-’73 Mk. II lineup of Blackmore,
vocalist Ian Gillian, bassist Roger Glover,
organist Jon Lord, and drummer Ian Paice,
drawing mostly from the Deep Purple in Rock,
Fireball, and Machine Head albums.
The performances range from early lipsynched
promo clips to television spots—
including a totally groovy live set with swinging
dancers for Hugh Hefner’s Playboy After
Dark show—to rock festival outings to mini
European documentaries. Interviews with the
band, while interesting at times, routinely
veer off into inadvertent Spinal Tap-esque stoner
self-parody—but hey, it was the ’70s, man. The
important thing, of course, is Blackmore’s
guitar playing, and he never disappoints.
Whether wielding an ES-335 in the early
days, or his trademark scalloped-fretboard
Strat, the Dark One’s contributions are
always intelligent, inventive, and passionate.
Tommy Bolin fans will also dig his take
on the band’s sound. Eagle Vision.