EMI 503580; EMI ITALIANA - Italia;
Deep Purple were perhaps one of the biggest bands in the Rock Universe in the early seventies, if not one of its very heaviest. Their early incarnation and classic line-up of Ritchie Blackmore, Ian Paice, Jon Lord, Roger Glover and Ian Gillan had built up a formidable reputation with albums Machine Head and In Rock, featuring such air-guitar staples as "Smoke On The Water", "Hush" and "Black Night".
However, by 1974 the third line-up of the band seen Gillan and Glover quit due to bad feeling and general rock'n'roll exhaustion the year before, and replaced by David Coverdale (later of Whitesnake) and bassist Glenn Hughes. This live album recorded at the Gaumont State in Kilburn (now a Grade 2-listed bingo hall!) - Recorded for radio - is the only document of that line-up, and now finally makes its way onto CD.
Of course, live albums always strange affairs and very rarely appeal past hardened fans, who themselves would be hard pushed to say they'd play them more than a handful of times, but as an archive release and a revealing fragment of the madness of the Purps, Live In London is top notch. Coverdale may've been bricking it, stepping into Gillan's shoes, but certainly doesn't show any sign of it as he makes a good fist of making "Smoke On The Water" his own, alongside more familiar terrain of Burn.
Depending on where you stand, Disc Two's 21 minute version of "You Fool No One" and - good grief - 31 minutes of "Space Truckin'" could seriously test your tolerance levels, but this set is a perfect snapshot of the band at an interesting transitory peak. Blackmore was to leave himself after the following year's album, 1975's Stormbringer, and despite numerous reformations and comebacks, things were never really quite the same again. --Ian Wade
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