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Deep Purple - 30: Very Best Of (Compilation Review)

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Deep Purple - 30: Very Best Of (Compilation Review)

30: Very Best Of Deep Purple was my first foray into the musical world of Deep Purple. While I can’t remember the compelling reason for picking up the compilation, I dare say it may have been due to hearing Child In Time in the film Twister. Mediocre scene, superb song!

As many of you would be aware, music can be a great conversation starter and this album has certainly had that desired effect as many individuals, some whom I assumed would never listen to Deep Purple, professed their love for these timeless classics.

I have always used music in the workplace and this album was no exception. Music has the power to break down the employer/employee relationship and while it never garners considerable benefits, it does help dilute tension. Seriously, when the CEO starts strumming the air guitar, you have connected with the human behind the façade. While all workplaces aren’t always accommodating, or for various factors can’t permit the playback of music, I truly believe music introduces a more relaxed atmosphere that encourages productivity.

Hush (1998 Remastered Version) was an excellent choice to commence the compilation on. From the howl to the rhythmic instrumental introduction, to the vocal dexterity; the entire song is simply awesome!

Black Night (1995 Remastered Version) has a killer guitar riff and beat that will have you moving uncontrollably. Seriously, that guitar work is exquisite and pushes the distortion right to edge, but never results in a sub-standard sonic presentation.

Speed King (Dutch Single - Piano Version) is a Killer song and the piano elements certainly add depth to the song. This song is one of the reasons why Deep Purple is one of the greatest rock bands in music history.

Child In Time (Single Edit) is a sonic masterpiece. Yes, Smoke On The Water is coming up, but Child In Time smokes any other song in Deep Purple's catalogue.

Strange Kind Of Woman has a great groove with an addictive vocal. Sometimes, that is all a good song needs.

Fireball is perhaps the only Deep Purple song, on this compilation, that I don't have much love for. I've simply never been able to connect with the song.

Demon's Eye has a great groove and is musicality pleasing. I really appreciate the slower pace of this song and the tempo works well for the style of music we recognise as Deep Purple‘s signature sound.

Smoke On The Water (1997 Remastered Version) really needs no discussion as that guitar riff says it all. Exceptional!

Highway Star (1997 Remix) is the complete package and while the soundstage is somewhat concealed, it rocks?

When A Blind Man Cries (1997 Remix) is an absolutely amazing composition. Music doesn't get much better than this.

Never Before is a solid rock song, but nothing to write home about.

Woman From Tokyo (Single Edit) is another example of musical perfection. While not an overly complex composition, it ticks all the right boxes.

Burn (2004 Remastered Version) is a great song, but the chaotic intermingling of vocal and instrumental aspects, especially in the verse, can become fatiguing.

Stormbringer (2009 Remastered Version) has a killer groove. I love it!

You Keep On Moving is strangely the final track on the TIDAL Hi-Fi edition of the compilation as the 1998 CD featured three additional tracts, including Perfect Strangers, Vavoom: Ted The Mechanic, and Any Fule Kno That. It is a complete mystery as to why these songs are omitted, especially considering I don’t feel You Keep On Moving is a solid enough song to close the compilation with. The aforementioned songs are truly missed and I wish I had never sold the CD during my idiotic MP3 rules era.

It is interesting, however, that these songs are available on iTunes, should you purchase the entire compilation. On Apple Music, however, the songs are greyed out. Yet, they are included on Spotify (thanks to their compile from any album feature). Basically, it is a bloody mess! The only saving grace for me is that iTunes Match streams all the songs as they were, on the original CD, when I ripped it into iTunes as a series of MP3 files.

Hence, just for you dear readers, I will review these three additional songs. 

Perfect Strangers is one of the greatest rock and roll songs to have ever been recorded. Turn the volume to 11 and enjoy as the musicality is off the charts!

Ted The Mechanic (sic) has a unique style that won’t appeal to everyone and I tend to have a love/hate relationship with it. Depending on the mastering, the song can sound rather shrill, but following the introduction the soundstage expands, becoming a more complete Deep Purple song that I really dig. Regardless, it was always a welcome addition to this collection. 

Any Fule Know That is superb. What an incredible beat! As the former final song on the compilation, it always encouraged me to listen to the album again and stay within the Deep Purple catalogue. Truth be told, I’d often put this song on repeat as it is simply that good!

What is disappointing is how this compilation has been handled over the years. Originally released in 1998, there is no reason why streaming services should have a version that includes remasters from 2004 and 2009.

Is nothing sacred anymore?

Trust me when I say that the original CD was mastered beautifully. I don't know about you, but this constant meddling really irritates me.

Memo to all record labels and musicians: If the original is substandard, don't release it. If you do release it, leave it alone. We don't want your remasters.

This, of course, isn't the first time I have been irritated by different editions and masterings of Deep Purple records. See Deep Purple - Made In Japan (Thoughts On The Many Editions).

Despite the questionable antics, surrounding the various masterings, this compilation is still one of the greatest in the history of recorded music. The cover artwork is exceptional and I'll never forget the starkness of that space purple CD.

From a sonic perspective, you can certainly hear variances between the tracks. While the remastered songs don’t help the situation, it is also plausible that this is simply a result of songs being recorded at different studios and at different stages in Deep Purple’s career. That said, at no time does this distract from the enjoyment of the compilation. It really is the very best of Deep Purple!

Deep Purple - 30: Very Best Of is available on CD and iTunes. There is also an extended Special Collectors Edition available on iTunes, albeit with a completely different tracking.

If you prefer streaming, the compilation is also available on Spotify (Standard Edition/Special Collectors Edition) and Apple Music (Standard Edition/Special Collectors Edition).

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Deep Purple - Shades Of Deep Purple (Album Review)

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Deep Purple - Shades Of Deep Purple (Album Review)

From the first seconds of And The Address, the iconic, signature, sound of Deep Purple is present, despite Shades Of Deep Purple being the band’s debut album. And The Address may have an annoying cowbell beat throughout, but looking past that one can see a band already at ease with their musical style. I, for one, become thoroughly engrossed with the groove of this song. What an introduction!

Hush is a howling good song and has always been a favourite of mine. I dare you to sit still while enjoying this classic. It is addictive and one of their greatest recordings.

One More Rainy Day doesn’t have one of the most compelling openings. Yes, the thunderstorm effect is a nice addition, but the most distracting element is the first verse. It really sounds out of place with the musicality, but all is not lost as the song develops nicely. It is a B-side, but worthy of inclusion on the album.

Prelude: Happiness/I'm So Glad really shows off the organ talents of Jon Lord. That man could perform an exceptional solo, on the organ, that would rival any guitar solo in music history. Absolutely incredible! Overall, the song is extremely pleasing and while lyrical elements may become a little repetitive, the song is never fatiguing. In many respects, it amazes me that Prelude: Happiness/I'm So Glad is not included on the numerous Deep Purple compilations and live performances. Surely it is popular amongst fans. Prelude: Happiness/I'm So Glad is severely underrated and I implore you to give it a chance. It is that good!

Mandrake Root fits adequately into the tracking of the album, but it is a B-side and offers nothing really compelling. That said, the lower register of the organ is a nice addition and overall, the musicality works. The major failing, in my opinion, is a weak vocal presentation.

Help is simply exceptional! This cover version is significantly better than the original Beatles recording in my opinion.

Love Help Me isn't the greatest song and feels somewhat detached from the other recordings. There are some truly enjoyable elements, but overall I feel the song sounds too shrill and incomplete.

Hey Joe is a great example of the progressive/psychedelic style of Deep Purple. It is a solid tune that encourages me to listen to the album again and stay within the Deep Purple catalogue.

For this review, I listened to the TIDAL Masters/MQA (24/96 kHz) Stereo Mix. To say it was exceptional would be an understatement. Due to their musical style and remastering with loudness in mind, many Deep Purple recordings have previously been overly shrill. That isn't the case here as MQA has given us a beautiful reproduction that is as close to the master recording as consumers are ever likely to get.

I also listened to the Mono Mix (also TIDAL Masters/MQA [24/96 kHz]) of the album but it didn't appeal to me. Perhaps I'm just used to stereo recordings, but the mono soundstage is just so shallow in comparison to the stereo mix. In a classic what came first, the chicken or the egg? No answer in the mono vs. stereo argument will be agreed upon unanimously. Hence, I will simply say they sound different and I prefer the stereo mix. Truthfully, I'm just glad that we have both mixes available, in MQA, as the listener can select their preferred edition.

Overall, there really isn't a bad thing to say about Shades Of Deep Purple. As far as debuts go, it is one of the better ones in rock and roll and you can clearly hear the origins of what the band would become in the years and decades following this 1968 release.

Shades Of Deep Purple is available on Vinyl, CD, the TIDAL Store (Stereo 16/44.1 kHz FLAC) and (Mono 16/44.1 kHz FLAC), and iTunes (Stereo) and (Mono) (both Mastered For iTunes).

If you prefer streaming, Shades Of Deep Purple is also available on Apple Music (Stereo) and (Mono).

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Deep Purple – Made In Japan (Thoughts On The Many Editions)

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Deep Purple – Made In Japan (Thoughts On The Many Editions)

I have been interested in undertaking a review of Deep Purple’s Made In Japan (The Remastered Edition) CD from 1998 for quite a while. It is a live performance that captured Deep Purple at their peak and even if you’re not a fan of the band, this is one performance that you have to listen to. It set a standard for all rock and roll bands to follow and is as unique today, as the day it was recorded.

However, in 2014 a number of new editions were released that would go on to complicate my thoughts about the performance, album, and re-issues in general. While the performance had already been re-issued numerous times, this didn’t stop Universal remixing, remastering, and re-releasing the performance once again.

Rather than a linear performance, Made In Japan was initially comprised of the best takes from three different, concurrent, performances in Japan. Logically, this should be as complicated as it gets, but that isn’t the case as there are too many editions. Let me explain:

Single CD Edition

The single CD edition features the original 1972 mix, but it has been remastered during the 2013 mastering sessions.

If you want the album that was originally released in 1972, then this is the go-to release.

2CD Deluxe Edition

The Deluxe Edition features the 2013 Kevin Shirley remix, of the original 1972 album. It also includes all encores, from all three nights on the second disc.

The 2013 remaster/remix of this album uses the original 1972 analogue multitrack masters. While the original 1972 mix, found on the single CD edition, is remastered from the 1972 analogue stereo master.

Therefore, if you want a newly mixed edition of the performance, this one will service you well. It is true to the original but I am honestly torn as to the mix I prefer. The original 1972 mix is still solid, but Kevin Shirley’s 2013 mix somewhat modernises the performance without changing it. Although, I find Shirley’s edition to be a little boomy and muddy in the low end. This is most noticeable in the song Lazy.

It is also important to note that as both the single CD and double CD have been remastered, the overall dynamic range, compared to the 1998 remastered edition, is reduced. Remarkably, the ’98 remaster maintained the dynamic range of the original ’72 release. That said, none of the 2014 releases could be considered sonically poor performers.

If you’ve never heard this performance before, this 2CD edition will be a welcome edition to your collection. Although, I feel us old-timers might be best served sticking with the original 1972 mix that we know and love. Although, when it is all said and done, it really is subjective!

High Fidelity Pure Audio (HFPA) Blu-Ray

Of course, if you want both the original 1972 mix and Kevin Shirley’s 2013 mix, you can pick up the HFPA Blu-ray Edition. However, no encores are included.

While HFPA Blu-ray is a favoured format here at Subjective Sounds, it is important to note that the dynamic range of this release is no better than the before-mentioned CD releases, hence the benefits of High Fidelity (24bit/96kHz) are trivial at best.

Given the capacity of the HFPA format, you would think that the entire three nights of recordings could be included on a single disc, along with all the encores, the 1972 mix, and Kevin Shirley’s 2013 mix. After all, The Rolling Stones Grrr… 50-song (>3 hour) epic is on a single HFPA disc and only consumes 20.02GB of the possible 50GB capacity. Yes, I acknowledge that this release is on a BD-25 disc and therefore limited to 25GB, but to my knowledge the HFPA specification does not exclude the BD-50 (50GB) option. Yes, the HFPA format didn’t last long, but as I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I still don’t understand why the music industry simply didn’t move to hybrid SACD releases for every album. Those who don’t care about the ‘ultimate’ in audio reproduction can enjoy the discs in a standard CD player, while audiophiles can use their dedicated SACD players to get the most out of the disc and their system. It was a win-win format!

The music industry is full of missed opportunities and putting low dynamic range masters onto an audiophile format is almost a guarantee of failure.

4CD Edition

This edition features the complete performances from each night in a linear manner. You also get the encores, on a separate disc, a making-of DVD, and a Japanese 7” promo. Also included is a hardcover book and a download code for the MP3 and HD files.

Let’s just say it is a pretty impressive CD collection that gives you everything, except the original 1972 mix and the 2013 Kevin Shirley remix; although from what I understand each performance, in this collection, is from the Kevin Shirley 2013 remix/mastering sessions.

All of a sudden things got awfully complicated for this completist collector!

It is clear that each edition has been purposely designed to have something that is not available on another edition. Therefore, those wanting to purchase the complete recordings of this iconic performance will need to dig deep and hide the expenditure from their significant other.

That said, let’s take a look and see how the analogue formats fit into this equation.

Double Vinyl

According to the production notes, this edition was cut at Abbey Road Studios from the original 1972 stereo analogue master. It is, however, the 2013 remastering and hence the dynamic range would be on par with the digital releases.

That said, the track listing mimics that of the original 1972 mix, so purists looking for a new copy of the original compiled performance will be pleased with this version. However, this edition includes no encore performances and therefore it is the analogue equivalent of the 2014 single CD edition.

9LP Collection

This monolithic collection should have everything, shouldn’t it? Well, not exactly!

Just like the 4CD edition, the 9LP includes all three performances in their linear 2013 mix. However, the making of DVD, original 1972 mix, Kevin Shirley 2013 mix (of the original track-listing), encore performances, and Japanese 7” promo aren’t included. From what I understand, the DVD that is included in the 4CD edition is the same as the standalone DVD that was released at the same time. It is important to note that while the DVD has the same cover art as the album releases, it is a documentary and not a live recording of the performance. A quick view at some of the feedback on Amazon, for the standalone DVD, shows that it caused significant confusion amongst fans.

If you’re interested in watching the documentary, it is available for streaming on TIDAL. It isn’t bad, but it isn’t worth owing.

The 9LP collection also includes the hardcover book and album download code with both MP3 and HD download options. That said, there have been inconsistencies reported regarding the availability of HD files in some regions, therefore you should take that into consideration prior to purchasing.

It is also important to mention this 9LP collection features a number of significant typos such as Oaska instead of Osaka and Somoke instead of Smoke. Perhaps one could forgive the misspelling of Osaka, but how could they possibly release a Deep Purple album with the misspelling of Smoke On The Water?

It doesn’t exactly generate consumer confidence, does it?

Personally, I would stay clear of this release and hope Universal have the good sense to re-issue this set with relevant corrections. Although, I wouldn’t hold my breath as Universal’s atrocious pressing of Abba’s Live At Wembley Arena (pressed and released in 2014) was never rectified. Interestingly, both this album and Deep Purple’s Made In Japan were pressed at GZ vinyl and their reputation isn’t the greatest.

Now, most normal people are probably rolling their eyes by now and truthfully I can’t blame them. The problem is, there are just too many different editions. While I have wanted to purchase one of the 2014 releases, to go with my 1998 remastered edition, the variety has been too daunting to even consider and therefore I have not made a single purchase.

For the moment, the single and double CD editions are available on TIDAL Hi-Fi, hence I feel no need to pick those up. Plus, besides the 2013 remix on the double CD, they mimic the 1998 remastered edition exactly. It is important to note that the full linear concert performances, as found on the 4CD and 9 vinyl box set are not replicated on any digital music stores or streaming services. Subsequently, if you’re interested in the full performances, you will need to purchase the physical releases. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing as it offers fans a value-added proposition; it is just a shame that the options are so convoluted.

…and with that, I have decided that the best approach for me would be to ignore my completist mind and simply pick up the HFPA Blu-ray release as it contains the original tracking and mix of 1972 stereo master, as well as the 2013 mix. Yes, I remember my earlier comments regarding the reduced dynamic range, but every time I look at my HFPA Blu-ray collection, this album is one that is sorely missed.

Other Deep Purple reviews by Subjective Sounds:
•    Shades Of Deep Purple (Album Review)
•    30: Very Best Of (Compilation Review)

 

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