Deep Purple - Concerto For Group And Orchestra

Year of Release: 2002
Label: EMI
Catalog Number: 07243 541006 2 8
Format: CD
Total Time: 91:08:00

The original vinyl edition, which was issued in 1970, had the second movement of the specially written concerto split into two parts so it could be spread over sides one and two of the album. We had to wait until 1991 before EMI released this work on CD also adding "Wring That Neck" and "Child In Time" along the way. Digitally remastered in March 2002 at the famous Abbey Road studios, now comes an even more complete package containing, apart from the already mentioned bonus tracks, the Joe South penned "Hush" and an "Intro" on disc one whilst we witness "Third Movement: Vivace - Presto" as an encore. Strangely enough, although the original programme mentioned that the Malcolm Arnold composition "Symphony No 6" was also performed that night on 24th September 1969, there's no sign of that classical piece, so we're still stuck with an incomplete statement of that unique event. I'm not sure whether the recently released DVD version does contain the Arnold composition yet for the time being lets look back at this pure "classic" in all its glory!

Way back in '69 it was not a normal case to record a full orchestra and band onto an asynchronous 8-track tape machine. In the sixties and early seventies that was all you could get your hands on, and people were rather happy with the end result simply because you couldn't get any better at the time. Today, the 21st century and places like Abbey Road studios offer so much advanced technology that you can take whatever you have in its analogue form and "bake" them into splendid new software. In the case of this Deep Purple release look out for the DVD-video, DVD-audio, SACD and the rather "old" CD. In treating the surround atmosphere, technicians used a program from the Sony DRE-S777 sampling reverb which sounded the most natural for this context. Sadly it wasn't the Royal Albert Hall but a hall somewhere in America! At the time of writing the piece, in between hectic Purple tours, Lord in fact wanted to record the entire concerto in a studio but there simply wasn't a budget big enough to do so. Instead a mere three rehearsals with the orchestra were done and that's all that could be managed as the entire concert was in aid of a charity called Task Force. Today both Jon Lord and Sir Malcolm Arnold can still witness the revamped version of Concerto For Group And Orchestra and proud they are, too, especially when they witness the 5.1 surround version which by far surpasses the rare quadrophonic mixes of Purple material in the past.

Disc one of this newly assembled double package begins with a rare BBC feature looking back at the rare event which put rock and classics together for the first time. Then Ian Gillan introduces the Joe South classic "Hush," which although "cleaned up" still suffers from some noise, but then again, it's been 33 years since it was recorded! It's amazing how close Purple's sound approaches R&B and soul, with the constant sound of the Hammond as a backbone. Blackmore even has time to add a humorous note as well; ah those were the days! When the instrumental "Wring That Neck" is introduced people don't even applaud, which kind of proves that most of the audience didn't even know half of the Purple material anyway. The song already delivers the distinctive sound of Blackmore whose solos alternate with great organ playing by Lord, resulting in kind of a question-answer arrangement between guitar and organ. It certainly illustrates the high level of improvisation. Completely unthinkable of today is the fact that even the first notes of "Child In Time" don't get any applause. It must have been so new at the time people didn't know it, or the audience must have been unaware of who the hell Deep Purple was! Gillan's voice is not 100% perfect throughout, as if he was still searching the perfect way to sing this "song about a loser" as he calls it himself.

Disc two contains the actual concert Jon Lord wrote for "group and orchestra," an experience which in 1969 was a rather exceptional fact resulting in a lot of interest from the media. The first movement starts in a very bombastic way with the kettle drums demanding a lot of attention. The balance between the strings and the brass section is much more detailed here than I ever could witness on my battered vinyl copy. The trumpets and bassoons really sound ever so prominent now. The build up to where Purple comes in for the very first time simply remains stunning introducing a great instrumental section before incorporating in an ingenious way the orchestra once more. The recordings are so clear you can even hear the members of the orchestra twist and turn on their little stools. Wonderful again how Lord's Hammond is the power which re-introduces Purple within the concerto. What follows is a rather dramatic piece in which all attention goes to the violins whose task it ends to end the second movement. The third and final movement is the "Vivace - Presto" movement in which percussion is used a lot to enhance the uptempo nature of the piece. This has always been my favourite maybe because you couldn't hear the noise so much as this was rather powerful throughout. It's also the part in which Ian Paice gets the opportunity to demonstrate his skills as a drummer. When the actual concerto is finished the band returns for a well deserved encore their choice being part of the final movement. They have chosen the part in which Paice introduces lots of percussion and adrenaline resulting in a version which sounds much more lose than the original take.

It must certainly have been an enormous experience for Sir Malcolm Arnold and the members of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra who for the very first time in their lives were not backing a soprano or tenor but a true rock band. However, whether heavily rooted in classic music or a rock addict no doubt everyone involved in this unique experience had respect for each other and it's exactly that respect which is on show here. You can hear a pin drop throughout the entire "Concerto For Group And Orchestra" piece and it's because of people like Jon Lord that rock music has been taken seriously. The second movement reinforces the orchestra as a build up for the vocal section of Gillan. With lyrics written on the back of a napkin in an uninspired moment, maybe it remains one of the weaker points but then again the record company didn't want this album to be a Jon Lord solo album so they wanted the name Deep Purple to be linked to it, and Deep Purple was a fivepiece also sporting Ian Gillan! 33 years after its initial recording this is the first time in my life I have heard this Jon Lord composition the way it was heard in the Royal Albert Hall way back in '69. With my eyes closed I was there. Maybe when I get hold of the DVD, I'll even be able to experience it all with eyes open!

Disc One: Intro (3:28) / Hush (4:40) / Wring That Neck (13:24) / Child In Time (12:02)

Disc Two: First Movement (19:22) / Second Movement (19:11) / Third Movement (13:09) / Encore : Third Movement (5:53)

Jon Lord - keyboards
Ian Paice - drums
Roger Glover - bass
Ritchie Blackmore - guitar
Ian Gillan - vocals

Shades Of Deep Purple (1968)
Book Of Taliesyn (1969)
Deep Purple (1969)
Concerto For Group And Orchestra With The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (live) (1970/2002)
Deep Purple In Rock (1970)
Fireball (1971)
Machine Head (1972)
Purple Passages (1972)
Made In Japan (live) (1972/1998/2001)
The Best Of Deep Purple (1972)
Who Do We Think We Are (1973/2000)
Burn (1974/2004)
Stormbringer (1974)
Come Taste The Band (1975)
24 Carat Purple (1970-1973) (1975)
Made In Europe (live) (1976)
Powerhouse (1978)
The Singles A's & B's (1978)
The Mark II Purple Singles (1979)
Deepest Purple (1980)
In Concert 1970 - 1972 (live) (1980)
Live On The BBC (1980/2004)
Deep Purple Live In London (live '74) (1982)
Perfect Strangers (1984)
The Anthology (1985)
The House Of Blue Light (1987)
The Best Of Deep Purple (1987)
Nobody's Perfect (live) (1988)
Scandinavian Nights (live) (1988)
Slaves And Masters (1990)
The Anthology (1991)
In The Absence Of Pink (Knebworth '85) (live) (1991)
Purple Rainbows (1991)
Knocking At Your Back Door (1992)
The Battle Rages On (1993)
Progression (1993)
The Deep Purple Family Album (1993)
Live In Japan (3cd) (1993)
Come Hell Or High Water (live) (1994)
Child In Time (1995)
Purpendicular (1996)
California Jammin' (1996)
Live At The Olympia (1996)
The Final Concerts (1996)
Abandon (1998)
In Concert With The London Symphony Orchestra (2000)
Live At The Royal Albert Hall (2000)
This Time Around: Live In Tokyo '75 (2001)
New Live & Rare: The Bootleg Series 1984-2000 (2001)
In Concert: 1970-1972 (2001)
In Profile (2001)
Singles Box Set (2002)
20th Century Masters - The Millennium Edition (2002)
Listen Learn Read On (2002)
The Essential (2003)
Gold (2003)
California Jam 1974 (2003)
Bananas (2003)
The Platinum Collection (2005)
Who Do We Think We Are (24kt Gold reissue) (2005)
Rapture Of The Deep (2005)

Genre: Rock

Origin UK

Added: November 3rd 2002
Reviewer: John "Bobo" Bollenberg

Artist website:
Hits: 680
Language: english


[ Back to Reviews Index | Post Comment ]