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Inglewood 1968 dpas cd
I knew beforehand that the sound quality wasn't the best, so I expected the cd to sound like a typical bootleg from the period, and in many respects it does. The overall sound lacks fullness, and the mix is uneven. On the whole, however, the sound quality is actually better than I had expected, and it is certainly adequate for any diehard Purple fan who is curious to hear a live performance from the band‘s original lineup.
As for the band's performance on that night, it is revealing in many respects. The fact that most of the concert consisted of cover versions indicates that at that early stage the band was not yet comfortable writing its own material, although Mandrake Root and Wring That Neck showed the band’s potential in that regard. (Jon Lord has also said that another reason the band played so many covers was that they toured so often they had little time to create their own material.) To the band’s credit, however, they usually gave their covers the “Purple treatment,” which means they played them in such a way as to show off their considerable virtuosity, which was well evident that night in Inglewood.
To begin with, the crowd must have been blown away by Lord’s organ playing, which was revolutionary for the time -- no other rock organist played with such intensity, flair, and creativity. His performances on Mandrake Root, River Deep, Mountain High, and Hey Joe were particularly impressive.
As for Ritchie, I’m not sure what the crowd thought of his guitar playing. The sound he squeezed out of his Gibson was unique for the time, but he clearly had not yet found the groove he later displayed on In Rock. At times his playing lacked vigor; it seems that he was trying too hard to stick to the LP versions of the songs, which limited his spontaneity and creativity. However, when he did cut loose, such as he did on Mandrake Root, he produced sounds on his guitar that had never been heard before (with the possible exception of Hendrix, who Ritchie emulated). The only thing I can compare his performance on that song to is a herd of wounded, stampeding elephants accompanied by the roar of heavy machinery. I’m not sure the laid back L.A. crowd was ready for that, but it must have been something to see, with Ritchie flailing away at his guitar like a wild man. In my opinion, however, his best work that night was on Wring That Neck and Hey Joe, both of which were more bluesy, melodic, and accessible.
Holding it all together, of course, was Ian Paice’s tight, aggressive drumming, which even at that time was outstanding. No matter how far out Lord or Blackmore drifted in their solos, Paice kept a steady beat, making it easy for the two virtuosos to keep on pace (pun intended).
I imagine that Simper also played well that night, but his bass is so muted in the mix that I had to strain to hear it. This is part of the reason that the band’s performance sounds so thin at times.
Finally, Rod Evans’ vocals were adequate for the time, but you can clearly hear why the band eventually chose to replace him. On some of the more pop-oriented songs, such as Hush and Kentucky Woman, his singing sounds fine, but on some of the “heavier” songs, such as Mandrake Root and Hey Joe, he lacks the rough edge needed to complement Jon and Ritchie’s work. And if you want to hear Evans at his worst, listen to his performance on Help, which sounds like a lounge singer at your local Holiday Inn!
In conclusion, the sound quality on Inglewood ‘68 is uneven at best, but the cd is of great historical significance to hardcore Deep Purple fans. It affords the listener a rare glimpse of the band in its infant stage, and for that reason alone it is worth the price. In addition, it also gives DP fans a chance to hear live versions of songs (Kentucky Woman, River Deep Mountain High, Help, and Hey Joe) that have not appeared on many of their live recordings since. I recommend it for any DP fan who doesn’t think that Smoke on the Water was the band’s greatest song.
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