April 17, 1975. Not only was this stop in Paris, France, the end of the Stormbringer tour for Deep Purple, unbeknownst to the fans in attendance, it would be the end of an era. Guitarist Ritchie Blackmore had expanded the sessions for what was originally to be a solo single into a new album and band, Rainbow, but that hadn't been announced to the public at large yet. In their eyes, it was business as usual as Purple took the stage. The band's management knew otherwise and preserved recordings of these last gigs and now, thanks to Eagle Rock, Deep Purple -- Live in Paris 1975, has been rereleased in remastered form.
While many fans have said that Blackmore's head wasn't really into these last shows, he certainly plays the majority of this performance as if he knew it would be his last show with the band (At least until he reunited with them in the mid 1980s). The show opens with "Burn," the ferocious title track of the Mk. III lineup's debut. After some brief noodling, the band launch into the song. Singer David Coverdale's vocals show much more power and confidence than in the band's 1974 shows while sometimes lead singer, Glenn Hughes', vocals, while powerful, were much more over the top. A possible result of an ego battle between the two vocalists and the increasing amount of drugs Hughes was consuming at the time. Those battles would get worse on the band's next tour but he stays mostly in check here, however.
The band follows up with an intense version of "Stormbringer." Deep Purple has always been one of those bands that excelled in the live arena, bettering their studio versions on stage and this track is no exception. Coverdale and Hughes deliver strong vocals while Blackmore strangles every last note out of his Stratocaster during the solo.
Following a strong "Lady Double Dealer," The band goes into a lengthy "Mistreated." While Blackmore does get a bit lost during the song's intro, he recovers nicely and the band turns in a powerful rendition of this blues number. The only Mk. II song on disc one is the biggest one -- "Smoke On The Water." After a lengthy intro where the band teases a bit of "Lazy," Blackmore launches into the song's familiar riff. Coverdale and Hughes trade vocals on the classic track. While the rendition is a spirited one, Coverdale and Hughes' R&B-based style doesn't always mesh well with the Mk. II material. They excel on the Mk. III songs, however, greatly improving on their studio counterparts.
One such example is "You Fool No One." The group takes the track to greater heights live, with an extended keyboard solo from the late Jon Lord, an extended guitar solo from Blackmore and a drum solo from Ian Paice. The song goes on for 19:27.
The band closes the show with a sizzling "Highway Star." The only clue to the future comes in the form of a cryptic comment from Coverdale where he states, "We hope to see you again sometime in some shape or form." Blackmore excels on the track, making the fans' final impression of him in Purple a superb one. The remastered CD sounds great and includes one bonus track -- a 1975 interview with Coverdale, Hughes and Paice.
Blackmore bolted because he didn't like the funk-oriented influence Coverdale and especially Hughes brought to the band. Deep Purple would record one more album with Tommy Bolin replacing Blackmore on guitar before splitting up in 1976. The Mk. II lineup reformed in 1984, but for one final time in the 1970s, fans in Paris got to hear a Ritchie Blackmore-led Deep Purple and the results are great.