Released: 1990, Eagle Rock
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. It never ceases to amaze me how much Deep Purple material there is. There are over 120 Deep Purple releases making them one of the most prolific Hard Rock bands ever. Admittedly they are also one of the oldest, active bands as well, now into their sixth (!) decade of activity with a new, full-length studio album on the way. Also admittedly, the vast majority of those 120 releases are crappy compilations and live albums being re-packaged and re-issued over and over again.
MKIII-THE FINAL CONCERTS veers dangerously into this territory. It was issued, in part as in 1976 as LIVE IN EUROPE. It was issued again in 1990 as MKIII-THE FINAL CONCERTS. It was issued in the States as ARCHIVE ALIVE. It was reissued again in 2007 and again in 2011. Taking the highroad, I’ll suggest that this reissue is a testament to the bands longevity and the demand of the legions of fans in the Deep Purple Appreciation Society, to have this album reissued…again.
Having said that the Eagle rock version is very well done. It is a double disc clonking in at almost exactly two-hours. The booklet is superb with detailed liner notes about the final days of the MK III line-up. I’m not enough of a Deep Purple die-hard to recognize the subtle intricacies of all the different tracks from the different concerts from different countries but it is all explained here. I don’t own any of the previous variations but I get the impression there are a couple of rare songs on this version.
Essentially the songs span two concerts, one in Austria and one in France, in April of 1975. The band is on it’s last legs and it shows. That fact is even mentioned in the liner notes saying that it is , “…not the most vital Deep Purple recordings ever discovered…”. Not a glowing endorsement, but refreshingly honest nonetheless.
However it is an integral part of the bands catalogue for the true fans. Sonically, it sounds great and as expected the band expands their standard 3-4 minute songs into 15 minute free-style jams with more solos than you can shake a stick at. Richie may not be pulling his weight but Coverdale make up for it with their youthful enthusiasm. For collectors, completists and archivists only.