Most say it is Live At Leeds. Others might say it is Frampton Comes Alive! Heck, there are a bucket load of live albums that could be considered worthy of sitting at the top of the roost. For me, there is only one album – Deep Purple’s Made In Japan.
As a wee boy of eight or nine, I would intently study my father’s vinyl edition of this beautiful record, eyeing up the huge Marshall stack placed behind Roger Glover. After having it recorded to cassette tape, I would play the crap out of my plastic toy rifle as if I was the medieval loon Ritchie Blackmore himself. This record brims with the energy of a band in their greatest lineup, playing at the height of their collective powers. It sounds like a group ready to combust, which is ultimately what this incarnation did.
Heavy metal? Almost. Hard rock with blues and neoclassical leanings it is, a driving force towards what would become metal.
Speed King hits the nail on the head – it deserves to be played loud. It demonstrates the chaotic frenzy of the group’s performances: Ian Gillan’s throat shredding voice, Ritchie Blackmore’s ferocious talent channeled into abusing a Stratocaster, Jon Lord’s grinding Hammond, backed by the phenomenal rhythm section of Roger Glover and Ian Paice. It kicks off without pause for breath, moving to energetic call and response in the middle, and then all out pandemonium sending the crowd crazy from 3.45 to 4.46. The shivers truly set in at 5.10; I have yet to listen to it without some sort of bizarre bodily reaction. I think it may be Blackmore’s out of kilter ascending dissonance at 5.21.
WIth all those classics on the album, why Speed King? I figure it must be nostalgia. For a more recognisable number, Black Night is absolutely stormed through.
But then we have the best for last. The intro is long and requires patience, featuring some other worldly noises extracted from Lord’s Hammond organ. It’s actually quite bloody scary. However, there is a method to the madness, moving to groovy blues from 1.54. It sets us up for one of the band’s best numbers: Lazy. Oh the riff (3.53)! Oh the guitar playing! Oh the harmonica! Oh the screaming (7.00)! Even the big bad wolf gets a shout. Glorious.