Deep Purple - Made In Japan
Against that backdrop, Made in Japan is deserving of the acclaim it frequently gets as possibly the finest live album ever made. Deep Purple show here exactly how powerful they were on stage. From the moment it opens up with that amazing intro to "Highway Star", you know you are in for a roller-coaster ride of excitement and energy. All the band members are at their peak here. The members of Deep Purple are, for this brief musical moment, on the same wavelength with each other to the extent that they rarely were before and never afterwards. This was Deep Purple before Blackmore's hubris tore the band apart. Although he must rate as one of the greats of rock guitar, he really ruined things with a lot of his pride and arrogance.
From the opener, the band settle into "Child In Time", for many the best song Deep Purple ever did. Then comes the much derided "Smoke on the Water". I suppose much of the abuse this track has received is due to that riff - everybody who has ever picked up a guitar must have attempted to play it. Okay it is simple, and after a while can become annoying, but I'll warrant that there are hundreds of guitarists who secretly wish they had come up with it instead of Blackmore. Jealousy can be a powerful motivator.
Perhaps the weakest track on the album is "The Mule". Drum solos are rarely captivating, and no matter how good Ian Paice is, he is no John Bonham. "Strange Kind Of Woman" is a classic though and sees Ian Gillan match note for note some of the high pitch screeching emanating from Blackmore's guitar in what is undoubtedly the best such dogfight ever recorded. Finally, "Lazy" is just another example of a brilliant song extended into a jam session, as much for the benefit of the artist as the audience. The original album closed with "Space Truckin" which probably goes on too long but by this time you are just enjoying it all so much you don't care any more.
The extended version has three additional tracks - "Speed King", "Black Night" and a cover of "Lucille". These were pretty much encores and provide a glimpse into the behind the scenes approach of the band. It appears that the Japanese concerts had been warm-ups for a future tour of Europe and the US. But such was the reception in Japan that the band seem to have run out of material for by the time they get to "Lucille" they have no new tracks to play as encores and had plainly been messing around with this in rehearsals so decided to give it a go live. The result is probably better than they expected.
Seminal! Need not say more.
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