Deep Purple: Phoenix Rising

Synopsis: This is the first Blu-ray to document Deep Purple’s turbulent last year before the band originally split in 1976, and includes exclusive new interviews with Glenn Hughes and founding member Jon Lord who open the lid to the problems that beset the band as they toured the world: Death, drugs and devastation, which led to their eventual disbandment. Archived footage from the tour includes interviews with Tommy Bolin, David Coverdale and Ian Paice, while rare and previously unreleased concert footage includes performances of Purple classics “Smoke On The Water,” “Burn,” and “Highway Star.” Live versions of “Love Child” and “You Keep On Moving” from the MKIV line-up’s one and only album Come Taste The Band also featured as part of the previously unreleased film Deep Purple Rises Over Japan – included in full, within this Blu-ray.

Other highlights of this extraordinary and powerful documentary include film from the start of the tour in Hawaii, trough New Zealand & Australia, plus the coup de grace recently discovered, previously unseen footage from the infamous concerts in Jakarta, Indonesia. Possibly the darkest point in Purple’s career that saw the band ripped off to the tune of $750,000, but even worse, the tragic death of one of their crew members that resulted in some of Purple’s entourage arrested on suspicion of his murder – something no amount of money could have compensated for. A truly unique film that reveals the excesses of life in the mid-70s in one of the world’s biggest rock ‘n’ roll bands. An essential purchase for any fan of Deep Purple or classic rock in general.

Deep Purple: Phoenix Rising 8.0

When I picked this Blu-ray up, I had thought that ‘Gettin’ Tighter’, its main feature, would be a documentary on Deep Purple MK IV – a formation that I am absolutely ignorant of, being mostly a fan of MK II. However, it covers much more than this: in actuality, it’s more of a documentary on the post-MK II years, as it even goes over the search for a new singer and bassist for MK III as well as all that followed.

Unfortunately, the film only features two band members out of a possible five: Jon Lord and Glenn Hughes. sad0038 Free Sad Emoticons

While Jon Lord was a wholly engrossing listen, telling us as candidly as possible what was going on behind the scenes, Glenn Hughes was obsessively going over his drug history – an important angle, for sure, seeing as it contributed to the destruction of the band, but all too much time was devoted to this. Not only was it repetitive, but one has to question the accuracy of a long-term addict’s recollections 35 years later. confused

I think that it would have been essential to interview critics and/or personnel as well, if only to remove the spotlight from Glenn Hughes – unarguably a talent, but his presence reminded me of a slightly more coherent Dee Dee Ramone. sad0133 Free Sad Emoticons At the very least, David Coverdale would have been key to getting a more full view of the band’s final years.

Alas, he’s absent. But there is a small disclaimer at the end which states that Lord and Hughes’ statements about the death of one of their crew members in Indonesia does not reflect Coverdale’s assessment of the situation. I wonder what that’s about, and I would love to hear the other side of the story now. I wonder why neither Coverdale or Ian Paice joined in… confused

Still, what is terrific about ‘Gettin’ Tighter’ is the amount of archival footage and photographs that is used throughout, thereby sprucing up the material and backing the two band members’ interviews. happy0021 Free Emoticons   Happy Since it cost a fair bit of money to film anything back then, it’s not always self-evident to find such goodies. Especially for a rock band such as Deep Purple – even if they were one of the biggest acts in the world then.

While the Hughes stuff could have been trimmed, and it does feel incomplete without more varied perspectives, it was a relatively informative piece and I think it holds enough value for a few more viewings over the years. I’m very pleased with the end result, as it fills in my mental picture of a band that I was once enamored with. love0010 Free Emoticons   Love

But that’s not all!

Also featured on the Blu-ray is ‘Deep Purple Rises Over Japan’, approximately 30 minutes of one of the last shows that MK IV ever did. It had, until recently, gone completely missing. The concert was being filmed in full at the time, but, after the band split up, no one had bothered to release it in cinemas, as originally intended (home video didn’t exist then! winking0002 Free Emoticons   Winking).

It’s incomplete; the rest of the footage has either been lost or destroyed, but what we get is fun to watch. It’s a very different band than Deep Purple MK II were, but if one can forget that they are supposed to be DP, this band gives a wickedly good show; it’s more of a groovy, ’70s rock vibe by then, but they were good at what they did. happy0027 Free Emoticons   Happy

Unfortunately, Tommy Bolin could hardly play by then, but he made up for it in stage presence. happy0024 Free Emoticons   Happy I’m quite surprised that they allowed him to do solos, seeing as his left hand was virtually glued to the fretboard and he sounded sloppy, but I guess that they were just trying to get through the show by that point (they had had some serious problems getting to Japan! scared0014 Free Scared Emoticons). And, while I’m really not a fan of the lion-maned Coverdale, his Viking/barbarian “rock god” look was rather cool. happy0021 Free Emoticons   Happy

Also featured on the Blu-ray are 70 minutes of audio bits from some Japanese and US concerts. While it’s all previously-released material, it’s presented here in lossless format and it sounds quite good. The disc also features an interview featurette with Lord and Hughes as well as a 20 minute promo on MK IV’s only album ‘Come Taste the Band’.

While most of the Lord and Hughes bits in these two featurettes are doubles from ‘Gettin’ Tighter’, it’s still informative and/or enjoyable enough – especially the ‘Come Taste the Band’ promo. happy0024 Free Emoticons   Happy

All in all, this is an awesome package. It’s a flawed gem, certainly, but any fan of Deep Purple should at the very least see this, if not get it for their collection; it pays tribute to a band that very few people respect or remember, given the massive popularity of the MK II version of Purple.

Worst case scenario, it’s worth it for the lossless audio clips alone; it’s delicious ear candy! love0010 Free Emoticons   Love

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