Tommy Bolin - guitar; David Coverdale - vocals; Glenn Hughes - bass, vocals; Jon Lord - keyboards; Ian Paice - drums
This recording marks the return of Deep Purple in the Mark IV version, which included (in addition to Lord and Paice) vocalist David Coverdale (who would later would strike gold with his own group, Whitesnake), former James Gang/Zephyr guitarist Tommy Bolin (who would die tragically ten months later in a drug overdose) and former Trapeze bassist Glenn Hughes (who eventually left Purple to join Black Sabbath). There was a lot riding on this version of the band as the previous lineup had enjoyed worldwide platinum success.
Much to the delight of their fans, this version of Purple certainly didn't disappoint, delivering powerful performances of new material from their Come Taste the Band album, which had just been released prior to this tour. Coverdale is able to aptly recreate the hits made famous with Gillian - including a crunchy version of "Smoke On The Water," which morphs into a dream-like rendition of the Hoagy Carmichael and Stuart Gorrell penned "Georgia On My Mind." This recording ends with another quirky but effective medley - a version of "Highway Star" that segues into the Buddy Holly classic "Not Fade Away."
When these shows were recorded, Purple was touring to promote their twelfth album, Come Taste the Band. Though it failed to receive the widespread critical acclaim and commercial success of earlier releases like Machine Head or Made in Japan, Come Taste the Band showed the band at their most musically mature, and featured some of the best material Deep Purple ever wrote and recorded. A pioneering hard rock band that came blasting out of England during the late 1960s with ear-splitting remakes of American pop songs, Deep Purple has achieved worldwide fame and fortune; yet the group's unquestionable contribution to the history of rock has often gone unnoticed.
The music on this recording was captured for the King Biscuit Flower Hour from two shows - one in January 1976 in Springfield, Massachusetts; the other at the Long Beach Arena in February of that same year. The broadcast of the Springfield show was scrapped when a buzz in Bolin's guitar amp was discovered after the recording had been completed, so the Biscuit re-taped at the February show and that was aired instead. The Springfield performance, however, was still considered the better concert of the two. These two Biscuit shows, moreover, remain the only live recordings of the Mark IV lineup. "The Mark IV version of the band was incredibly powerful," recalls Glenn Hughes, who has remained active in a myriad of bands and as a solo artist since he left Deep Purple in 1976. "Tommy Bolin's playing was quite different than Ritchie Blackmore's, and he made a huge difference in the sound of the band."
Deep Purple had their first hit in 1968 with a hard rock cover of Billy Joe Royal's hit, "Hush." In Rock and Fireball, released in 1970 and '71, respectively, rocked hard and re-established the band's metal dynasty. It was 1972's Machine Head, however - and its single, "Smoke On The Water" - that broke the band's commercial success open wide. 1973's studio album Who Do We Think We Are? and subsequent live album, Made in Japan, further propelled the band's popularity but brought an end to Gillan's and Glover's memberships. The group recruited Trapeze bassist and vocalist Glenn Hughes and then-unknown vocalist David Coverdale, and Purple rebounded with two more successful albums - Stormbringer and Burn - before tensions between Blackmore and the other members came to a head, causing the former to leave the band.
The press declared Deep Purple dead and buried, only to see it snag ace American axeman Tommy Bolin (fresh from filling Joe Walsh's shoes in The James Gang). Again, the group came roaring back. Bolin's presence and musical innovations brought Deep Purple to a totally new level artistically, but the marriage was short-lived. By the end of the '76 tour, the band had broken up, partly because Bolin decided to pursue a solo career. Bolin, sadly, would be dead within four months after too many months of severe substance abuse. Coverdale, Lord and Paice regrouped as Whitesnake for a few years, and in 1983, the Mark II Deep Purple reformed. The version out tHere Today only contains Gillian, Glover and Paice from the classic lineup. Deep Purple has remained on and off the musical scene since then, with ongoing internal turmoil, personnel changes, and little, if any, real commercial or critical success. Still, they perform to thousands and thousands of loyal fans worldwide.