Paice Ashton Lord • Live 1977 – CD
Hummingbird – T2CD0112 – April 2012. CD.
It still puzzles me why I didn’t get into PAL more when they were around; youthful loyalties and narrower musical horizons clearly had a lot to do with it. But the band did kick off in a way which suggested they already were the bees knees, when perhaps taking a couple of steps back down the ladder and adopting a suck it and see approach might have enabled them to ride out any teething troubles instead of facing them in the full glare of publicity.
I doubt Paice or Lord would have relished the back to the roots approach which worked for Coverdale, but… it worked for Coverdale. And it was financially far less risky than calling up James Bond’s set-designer and getting him to buy up the nearest timber merchants.
Anyhow, this CD comes from the band’s debut (indeed one and only) radio broadcast. It was issued on CD many years ago, but is here remastered and with the missing song (ironically the album title track) added back in for the first time. It certainly sounds better than the last version (the old Windsong label never spent a cent on their releases), louder and crisper without being over-driven, though it is a little rough around the edges at times due to the problems on the day (the sound gear blew a couple of times for starters).
We get live versions of almost the entire album too, and some of these kick up a storm, especially the opening Ghost Story and On The Road Again. Personally I could live without I’m Gonna Stop Drinking Again, which always struck me as a lack-lustre in-joke, but otherwise it’s all fairly up-beat. You get to notice Marsden’s rhythm work more and the bass is certainly lifted from the last edition. Marsden also gets to front the old standard Steamroller Blues, which is a little out of place but does make you think they’d have done well to use Bernie’s voice more. Curiously one of the high-points is the steaming version of the old Ashton / Lord album song Ballad Of Mr. Giver (an album they never actually toured at all – unless one live concert and a radio performance count as a tour – I suppose these days they might!), and they rock out on Sneaky Private Lee.
I remember when we saw them at Birmingham the band all looked rather out of place on the ginormous stage they had; Lord and Ashton stuck down the front together, with all the others looking down on them as if they were watching rather than taking part. I’m sure it was half the problem and had they been working together side by side on a normal stage it might have brought more cohesion and lessened the pressure on Tony.
Still, it’s easy to be wise after the event, and for now this is a nice reminder of one of the more off the wall offerings from the Deep Purple family. The CD booklet has detailed notes and some unpublished photos from yours truly taken live and back-stage. Very strange to be asked to dig these out and scan them after 35 years (you can see some contact sheets of these online at easy on the eye). Their press guy took as backstage before the show for a chat with Jon and Ian, and we were a bit star struck as it was very early days of the fan-club, but the pair were very hospitable. We bumped into Cozy Powell outside – he’d driven up to catch the show – and allowed us to take a few photos provided we did not publish where they were taken. He explained he was supposed to be on a tax break outside the UK!
available from April at DTB Online Store, pre-orders taken.
PAL Tour posters in the on-line gallery at the website, http://www.deep-purple.net/posters/poster-gallery.htm
UK PAL Tour press advert here
PAL family tree at http://www.deep-purple.net/tree/pal/pal.html