California Jam Book review / pics

There is a gallery of preview images further down the page. You can also view them as a slideshow at the bottom of the page.

Deep Purple California Jam first lookAs far as I can see there hasn’t ever been a Deep Purple book quite like this before. Indeed on some levels there never can be again. I can’t imagine there is another Deep Purple concert which attracted so much coverage for a start and even though many photographs taken that day have been lost or mislaid in archives over the intervening 40+ years, the publishers still had a great selection to choose from. The other unique feature is of course the signature page which marks out the very limited top edition.
Some people will remember the Didi Zill photo book of several years ago but that lacked any real context and was flawed technically as well. The publishers have worked hard here to make sure the same problems don’t arise here. This book not only contains a fantastic array of photographs – over 280 colour and black and white frames, many of them full page – but also puts them very much into the historical time frame of the band. Each section of the book has a header page giving continuity to the material. After a few introductory pages the text takes us through where the band were at in 1974, with the US tour covered, before looking at the entire build up to the California Jam in proper detail. This section is heavily illustrated with photographs and memorabilia (local press cuttings, adverts and posters) giving a real feel for the behind the scenes work which was going on to bring the concert off. The first stand-alone photo section covers Deep Purple’s rehearsal the evening before, with more unseen photographs. From there the day itself is documented from both the band, technicians and audience point of view, which gives us a real feel for the event and what people went through on the day. The build up and backstage argy bargy after Deep Purple’s arrival by helicopter and their delayed appearance are also seen from both sides of the fence (literally in some of the photos), rather than trying to apportion any blame. Certainly reading the thoughts of the concert producer and director you can begin to see why the tension was so high.

The book covers Purple’s set and the climax to their performance and again this section is illustrated with more photographs, site plans, tickets and other goodies.

Indeed all this takes up some 90 pages of the book before the real photo section weighs in. The quality here is very good indeed. I know a lot of work went into the scanning of old negatives and slides, many of which had to be colour corrected (the colour in slides does fade over time) and digitally retouched to remove years of ‘grot’ (as photographers are wont to call it), but it was well worth it as the pictures are mostly excellent on the page. Given that for most of us the show is known in print only though poor magazine and newspaper reproduction, it’s incredible to see the shots looking so good. Some of the full band photographs look fantastic, and where these have been used across a double spread, they have been cropped so none of the band themselves disappear into the binding of the book. I found myself studying the incidental detail in many of the photos – the lighting crew on the scaffolding, roadies peering out from behind speakers, ABC officials looking on, the press scurrying about in the fenced off area stage front. It really does give an overall feel for the experience which I hadn’t expected.
There is no doubt that Blackmore and Coverdale fans in particular are very well served, most of the photographers focused on them as the two front men for obvious reasons. Paice probably comes off worst as he was quite hard to snap, but the compilers have tried to make up for this with extra rehearsal shots. There are even photographs of the road crew – rarely seen unsung heroes of many a gig – and managers.

Naturally enough, the focus moves firmly to Blackmore for the last few pages – a stunning blow by blow sequence of the attack on the camera, the setting up and priming of the speaker cabinets (captured in unseen backstage views showing Ritchie in heated discussion with his roadie), the explosion itself and the final heaving over the stage of the remains. I’ve always loved black and white concert photography and I think these capture the atmosphere better than the actual video. Given that much of this took place over just a few minutes, hats have to go off to the photographers who managed to get such incredible images, especially in the pre-digital age, when you had to reply on experience to make sure the exposure was right. The vast majority of these images have never appeared in print anywhere before, while a few classic shots are here but look really good in such tonal detail.
The book brings us back to earth gently over 25 pages or so headed ‘the aftermath’, with some remarkable memorabilia from the archives of those on the front line, plus more great photographs. It’s easy to forget that Deep Purple were playing another gig 48 hours later, and the publishers have stuck in a few stunning pics from these shows as a bonus. Details of the recordings, bootlegs and official releases round the book off, along with a page of credits to the people without whom this project could not have happened.

The downside to all this is of course the cost. Having worked on and off in the print business most of my life, I understand that given the likely sales of such a specialist title, a conventional release would simply never have happened. Many art books of this size and quality sell for £80 or more when they do come to market, so the entry level edition of this isn’t far off the mark. If you have the extra readies to invest in one of the special hardback editions, I don’t think it will disappoint.
Simon Robinson.
(I have tried to review the book dispassionately in order to bring this exclusive first look but do keep in mind I was involved in the writing, design and other aspects of the production).

The other day 6 kilos of Jam was delivered to my door. Of course I’m not talking about fruity jam, but jam from California of the Deep Purple kind in the form of the Rufus Stone special edition. One word pretty much sums it up: stunning!
I know, I’ve been involved a bit with this one, so I’m biased, however, this doesn’t stop me from being my usual ‘critical’ self. Yes, I’ve spotted a few missed typos, the enclosed poster should have been folded in a larger format and on thicker paper, I’d probably gone for another image for the outer sleeve of the LP and, having had a look around the net, it’s a shame a few other photographers couldn’t come on board – which I’m sure was to do with financial restrictions….
But all this pales into insignificance compared to the joy of holding this book in my hands, looking though it and feeling a sense of pride of actually being able to call myself a ‘fan’ of this band at this stage in their career. Didi Zill’s photo book from a few years ago was ok, but with many technical flaws. This one sets the standard. 10 out of 10! Fantastic job! Tonny Steenhagen.

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37 Responses to “California Jam Book review / pics”

  1. clive bindley Says:

    I agree with Neil Jones. I never saw what all the fuss was about with Cal Jam. Ok it was a big concert and for Coverdale and Hughes it must have been nerve wracking. But yes, Coverdale was out of tune some of the time and Hughes is just emmbarassing!
    At one point in one of Ritchie’s solo’s he almost goes into Alice Cooper’s School’s Out riff, but stops just short.
    The camera man incident was typical Ritchie, as he proved on Hell Or High Water, what is it with him and camera men?
    I have the DVD but probably only bothered to watch it once many moons ago, so I won’t bother the book, unless someone gets it me for Xmas!

  2. neil jones , nuneaton Says:

    As a life-long Purple fan I’ve never understood the euphoria surrounding the Cal Jam concert. I`ll admit it was a massive audience and no doubt a huge pay cheque, but the sound, especially on the CD release, is poor. Coverdale is often out of tune and Glenn Hughes’s wailings are embarrassing and Ritchie having the speaker stack explode, now nearly 40 years on it just looks daft! The UK shows of ’74 had some great moments but nothing ever compares to Mk 2 at their finest.

    • simon robinson Says:

      I think with the Cal Jam it was the whole thing surrounding the show which kind of made it stand out, plus it was their biggest gig ever. And even as a big Mk 2 stalwart, I remember the 1974 tour as pretty powerful.

  3. Dick Pimple Says:

    Er sorry but that is not leather; it is not even a quality vinyl. I work with the stuff so I should know!

    • simon robinson Says:

      Perhaps we should pout you in touch with the publishers then! Perhaps it is Gnometex after all…

  4. Dick Pimple Says:

    I reckon I must be the only one a bit disappointed then. Although well packaged mine arrived with a couple of ‘dings’ in the outer box. The finish to the book and casing is cheap thin embossed vinyl – not the luxurious padded quality finish I would have expected given the £300 price tag. The photos and content however are stunning, although I would have thought someone could have taken the time to thoroughly proof read it before sending to print; there are many typos and grammatical errors which is shameful at the price.

    • simon robinson Says:

      Happy to take on board any typos and grammatical errors, do let us know. I’m aware of one where I got the start of the US tour wrong on one page (shamefaced) though it’s right elsewhere. Embossed vinyl? It’s actually leather! Have a smell. But don’t tell Mike Galway.

  5. Mark B Says:

    Beautiful book. I have taken it out of its casing on innumerable occasions since I bought it as a 50th (well, 52.5) birthday present for myself. I went for the limited edition and have been blown away by the quality of the pictures, layout and text. A really splendid effort. Given the timing, it is a very suitable tribute to the maestro, Jon Lord. Also given the timing, the decision of Blackmore not to sign the book as a, grievously ill, Jon Lord had done is utterly inexplicable. The word “churlish” springs to mind. So do a number of other words, but I’m far too polite to use them.

  6. Harry Heathman III Says:

    I received my signature edition on December 22nd. What a great Christmas present to myself. Brought back memories from 1974. My good friend went to California Jam while I stayed home and got married. Recorded the show off my tv’s headphone jack on an 8-track. Was glad to finally get a better recording of the show on CD in the 90’s. Ordered book 5 minutes after I received the email that you could order it. Mark Smith promised me a very low number but when I received the book, my copy was number 162. That was my only disappointment. Great job Simon! Read it from cover to cover within the first couple of days receiving it.

  7. Ian Douglas Says:

    Hi from Australia – I just got mine today (after reminding RS it took just a few days) but it’s a sens(e)ational work and well worth the effort and the wait! A superb addition to my collection and I look forward to other Purple-hued titles! Well done all and including of course/especially Simon and cohorts!

    • simon robinson Says:

      Thanks Ian (on behalf of the cohort!). I’m slowly gearing up for the next projects and RS have a couple of things in the pipeline but think it better to confirm before announcing anything.

  8. Horace Cordier Says:

    It looks beautiful.

    Unfortunately even though I paid in full weeks ago for the signature edition I cannot get a reply of any kind to my emails of the last 2 weeks as to order status. I am in the USA and understand delays and am not impatient but this lack of communication is upsetting.

    • simon robinson Says:

      I’ll pass this on for you Horace, they’ve been flat out at the publishers getting copies finished and they do take a bit of time as they’re all hand-bound.

  9. JC Says:

    Got my Signature Edition two days ago. Absolutely stunning work. Thank you for this great book, a must have for all fan! A bit disappointing was the long delivery schedule as I ordered and paid the book within ten minutes I’d gotten the message from The Editor, that it could be preordered. This was on September 28th.
    I expected as anyone did I guess, having it delivered for Christmas, but it didn’t happen.
    After contacting via mail upon this matter, the book has been sent out directly without any reply to my mail from the editor.
    I might be wrong, but this gives me the impression that my order might have been forgotten or mislaid if I hadn’t contacted them about this. Anyway, no hard feelings at all!
    I’m as happy as anyone of you is or will be by holding this bible in his hands. God bless Jon Lord and his family.
    Wishing all of you a happy new year

    • simon robinson Says:

      No, the copies which could be shipped all went out same week via the same courier JC, it’s just that delivery times have been extended due to the pressure of Xmas deliveries. My sample copy took 8 days to travel 150 miles…

  10. Twanky Says:

    I got the signature edition, and it looks stunning, apart from a couple of typos and one glaring error. I’m very pleased.

    • simon robinson Says:

      Do send any errors in in case we get to do an update one day! I’ll mention them on the page above along with any new info which comes in. The only one I spotted was the US tour starting month was in error in one paragraph, but is correct elsewhere.

  11. alexjes@seznam.cz Says:

    Got mine ! Looks really great.

  12. Stone Says:

    Guys, how did you order the book? I cannot find any way to place the order…

  13. Dave Binnie Says:

    My signature edition arrived yesterday. Excellent work. Played the purple vinyl as I perused the pages. Having the signatures is simply gold. Sad that Ritchie didn’t add his…

  14. Danny Fox Says:

    Simon, I ordered the signature edition first week it was available before the news of Jon signing it. Now my good lady tells me it’s my main Christmas pressie! Oh well, can’t wait to get my hands on it! Such a classic show and that ‘ending’. Your insight to the book has got me ready for a fantastic few hours glued to the couch reading. Great way to end 2012, pay tribute to Jon and drink to 2013 and the new album. All the best Simon and Ann for all your efforts over the year. Have a great Christmas. Danny.

  15. brian mullins Says:

    Why be mad at Ritchie because he will not sign a book for you? He is my favorite guitarist too but I don’t look at it like, damn Ritchie for not giving me something, like his signature. He has given us great music for much of his life and if he wants to give no more so be it! A lot of people are pissed off because Ritchie won’t play rock music anymore. I wish he would play what I want, god knows we need more like him these days, but I cannot be mad at him for wanting to do what he wants to do. It’s his life.

  16. Bruce Metcalfe Says:

    Okay! You got me! The standard version has been ordered!

  17. Martin Ashberry Says:

    Excited is an under statement. Have just had a sex pee.

  18. Grannypants Says:

    I truly think it was the absolute peak of Purple’s achievements. Its so great to see it paid such a tribute.

  19. Michiel Blijboom Says:

    Probably Coverdale, but the resemblance…

    • simon robinson Says:

      It is indeed DC, in a rather worn straw hat. I have to say it shouldn’t work, but it does. The rehearsal was held at night in the dark and it was very cold, which is why they’re all in coats and jackets. And hats.

  20. Michiel Blijboom Says:

    Is that Tommy, with the hat???

  21. Sam Schlagenhaufen Says:

    Very cool… indeed. thanks Simon! Can’t wait to receive my (signed) copy!

    • simon robinson Says:

      I was afforded a glimpse of one of the signed sheets while I was down there, though for security reasons only a brief one. It does look good. The signatures have been done on a sheet of translucent paper around the Jam logo, and the page will be positioned over a tinted photo of the group in the book.

  22. Anthony Says:

    The pictures in the book look amazing and I am sure it was one hell of a gig to be at. I am off now to put on my old California Jam video which I have watched so many times. Oh, any more news on the Paris 1975 cd release–does it differ at all from the previous remaster?

  23. Bruce Metcalfe Says:

    Looks good!

  24. john blackburn Says:

    Woah! Can’t wait for my copy!

  25. Mark Says:

    My wife has ordered me the signature edition for Christmas! It looks great, and I’m really encouraged by Simon’s insights into the pictures and the level of detail. He’s right too – there’ll never be another book quite like it. It’s just pretty sad that Ritchie thinks so little of the people who made him rich and famous that he isn’t prepared to take any time to sign the book for them. That he’s damaging his legacy is undeniable – he won’t be given the outpouring of genuine love that marked Jon Lord’s passing, and (as my favourite guitarist ever) that’s just such a pity. Still – looking forward to the book!

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