December 1, 1970
Darker Than Blue (DTB 156)
01 Speed King
02 Wring That Neck
03 Mandrake Root
04 Black Night
Deep Purples gig in Hannover Germany in December 1971 has been captured, in part, in a fair to good sounding mono audience recording. There are signs of distortion when the band is going full force and the drums are slightly buried in the mix but overall has a relatively clear and enjoyable sound. The performance is par for the time, Deep Purple where on fire and giving incredibly brutal performances. It is fair to say that at least two songs are missing, Into The Fire and Child In Time
“Two words…a thing called Speed King” is Ian Gillan’s introduction as the band takes the stage and begins the opening jams that leads into the song. Fast and aggressive, Ian is in fine voice and wails away in fine fashion. I like when Ian asks “do you know what a speed King is ?” and his answer comes via a response from Ritchie guitar and it leads into a nice blues duel for Blackmore and Jon Lord to loosen their fingers on.
Blackmore climbs out of the blues via his fret board and starts ripping into leads to leads the group back into the main theme.
The tape is cut at the songs conclusion and picks up again with the opening stains of Wring That Neck, the sound quality goes down a bit and sounds a bit more muffled. Lord and Blackmore trade solos back in forth in the usual way and Roger Glover even gets into the mix and the whole thing leads into the middle section. Lord takes center stage first and goes through some classic parts and proceeds to conjure up some incredible sounds from his organ, as if opening and inter dimensional gateway, if you did not know better you would think the Pink Floyd where playing. Blackmore goes into his solo spot and hits the boards running but soon slows down and plays a slow melancholy piece sounding somewhat like a cross between Paint It Black and Still I’m Sad. He soon goes into some medieval themes and even a hint Jingle Bells for good measure before leading the band back to Neck and its finale.
Mandrake Root follows and it sounds as if someone was fiddling with a loose cord as a couple of bumps are notable. After the main theme the band goes into the fast riff section, Blackmore leads the band through the chain saw like rhythm and Lord takes the opportunity to solo over the top. Blackmore comes in and its his turn to head to the stratosphere and walks the line between nimble notes and boisterous feedback to great effect. Farther one in the piece Blackmore takes a stab skyward and again the piece takes on a very outer space kind of feel to great effect, of course this is no smooth ride with Ritchie piloting ! They song is another excellent example of the key to early Deep Purple, the musical interaction between Blackmore and Lord that provides the catalyst for the onstage magic the band created.
Black Night is the final song on the tape, it is incomplete and starts in process with the second verse, the sound is a little louder and slightly more distorted giving a great nasty sound to the song. A great aggressive version of the song, Blackmore is literally all over the place. At the concerts conclusion one can only surmise on the other songs absent from the concert as the fragments we have a superbly played concert.
Packaging is simple black and white photos that looks live there were taken at the actual show and a picture of the poster for the concert itself. Again if one can turn on their bootleg ears and get beyond the marginal sound quality there is some incredible music found within these gems. Certainly not one for the casual collector but I have been on a Purple tare of late and these early shows have been more than satisfying my hunger.