Darker Than Blue – the album

A couple of people have asked about the Darker Than Blue graphic on the front page; Darker Than Blue was one of the very early Deep Purple vinyl bootlegs. Indeed it was probably the first American bootleg of the group ever released. It was fairly common for bootleggers to copy or re-jig material from other bootleg albums, and in this case they took the audio off one of the titles issued in Europe in late 1970, probably Space 1 & 2. These first boots all came from a performance in Aachen, Germany, in July that same year.

Darker Than Blue Deep Purple bootleg

Darker Than Blue was yer typical US pressing, a plain album sleeve accompanied by a single printed cover sheet, all shrunk-wrap. The bootleg had Black Night and Paint It Black on in full, Wring That Neck which concluded on side two, followed by a five minute chunk of Wring That Neck. Deep Purple were of course not that well established in the States at this time but bootlegs were aimed at the underground and college markets, where kids were musically more aware of good new bands.

I always had a fondness for the title, and when we came to rename the Deep Purple fan magazine, took it from here. As this blog site is an extension of the magazine, it seemed right to keep the name. It will remain when the revamped DTB magazine is launched later this year (I’ll announce details shortly) and we’re even toying with the idea of using it when we launch a vinyl label next month (again, news to follow).

Design wise it’s a bit of a mess; they’ve used a mad script with a vague hippy look to it taken probably from a sheet of rub-down lettering, but then done the main title mostly by hand to match. Kind of captures the period well though.

Obviously to most fans albums like this have little interest, especially as the recording is available as a better quality authorised CD  (Live In Aachen – check out the DTB store), but some of us like to collect the old vinyl boots still and as they were usually pressed in low numbers they still keep some of their value. Back in the seventies as a student, I had to pass on duplicate releases like this (I’d bought H-Bomb when it came out), but somehow ended up with a spare sleeve. It was only much later that a copy tuned up for sale and I added it to the archive.

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9 Responses to “Darker Than Blue – the album”

  1. Frank Traum Says:

    This was the first Deep Purple bootleg I bought way back in the fall of 1975. Listening to the record, I figured it was a “Mark II” performance, but I had no idea when and where the recordings were made. Particularly interesting was hearing snippets of other compositions in the renditions. I assumed these recordings wouldn’t see legitimate release because of songwriters’ royalties. One rumor from the seventies was that this release was recorded in Chicago (!)

    • simon robinson Says:

      Now you mention it, I seem to recall this being advertised as Live In Chicago at the time. But then it was very much a buyer beware area of collecting. I was very lucky, as we had a shop near college which sold ‘adult’ magazines. But beyond them they had racks of bootleg vinyl! The guy there was fairly reasonable, and admitted he had no idea of the quality – so if a bootleg turned out to be a real stinker, he would let you bring it back to swop over. I never did. Not even Fireball Over Japan.

  2. Adrian Dennis Says:

    I remember my brother having a double ‘best of’ LP called Purple Passages which I seem to remember was released by Warner Brothers. I THINK it was a compilation of the first 3 albums as an introduction to US fans. Correct me if I’m wrong

    • simon robinson Says:

      Spot on Adrian; when Warners ended up with the back-catalogue, they didn’t want to reissue the old style Mk 1 albums so instead came up with this retro collection. It was US and Japan only more or less, but lot of copies were imported into the UK.

  3. Sören Eriksson Says:

    Isn´t it a question of how good you do it if you loose the audience attention? Hand on heart, how many times, in all their career, have anyone here seen a crowd lost interrest in the improv sections during the gigs when it was Blackmore and Lord doing it? Anyone? Ever?
    Anyway, I agree with “Heimdal”: great news with the vinyl label! And thank you for all the good things you do and have done with everything connected to Deep Purple! If it wasn´t for all the good things coming out, which you usually seem to have a large responsibility for, I would have left anything and everything connected to the present band along time ago.

    • simon robinson Says:

      While I agree Lord and Blackmore never lost our attention (though thinking back to some of those dreadful reunion play-along-a-beethoven bits, Ritchie did push it some nights!), I think the expectations of parts of the crowd are so different today, that anything they are not immediately familiar with tends to cause their attention to wander. So the band then has to come back to the oldies to grab them once more.
      What they should do is rehearse a set of unusual material and advertise it as such for fans to go to. I’d pay extra for that, wouldn’t you?

  4. Heimdall Says:

    A vinyl label – that’s fantastic news! The best of luck with all your projects!

  5. clive robey Says:

    I bought H Bomb in 71 at the then new Virgin shop by the Clock Tower in Brighton. I don’t remember how much I paid for (£2.50 sounds about right) but do remember listening to the album on a giant bean bag with headphones coming out of the wall. I still have the LP and the CD version. The music never to amaze and is a stark reminder to those (who think) today’s DP is the bees knees. Improvisation was all the rage then, now it’s play the number straight through with little or no variation. If DP started out today, they would die a death. Improvisation was what made DP stand out from the crowd, not any more.

    • simon robinson Says:

      In which case I wuz robbed, I paid £4.00 for my copy! The Brighton and Sheffield stores were among the first 12 shops Virgin opened outside London in early 1971 by the way. I actually didn’t buy mine there, but at a store called Curtis Records, which is how I probably ended up paying more. They had a wire stand near the counter full of early bootleg titles, a real eye-opener.
      I don’t think DP have forgotten how to do improv, we do get the odd exciting flash at some shows when there isn’t a curfew, it’s just that their target demographic these days probably doesn’t understand it. We’ve all witnessed a slump in large chunks of the crowd at shows when the band try something new or different, then have to work twice as hard to get the energy levels back up.

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