Back in 1975 DEEP PURPLE MK III were playing their final shows, with the majority of the band and the audience not even knowing. Ritchie Blackmore, unsatisfied with most tracks on the latest DEEP PURPLE album “Stormbringer” collaborated with singer Ronnie James Dio to record a solo single (which grew to an entire album) and finally took the decision to leave DEEP PURPLE and form a new band called RAINBOW. During a short touring break before the last of the planned dates, Blackmore informed the management about his decision to leave and the management took the opportinity to bring in the Rolling Stones mobile recording studio to capture the MKIII final shows taking place in Graz, Saarbrücken and Paris.
As the band didn’t break up after Ritchie Blackmore left and the rest of the band continued with Tommy Bolin, the live recordings weren’t published as intended and it took until October 1976 for at least some of the material (the majority taken from the Saarbrücken show) to be released on an heavily edited live album called “Made In Europe”. Another 20 years later, “MK III The Final Concerts” was released, using mostly recordings from Paris with additional five tracks from Graz. In 2001 the Paris show finally got a release in its entirety and another 13 years later the still unpublished songs ”The Gypsy”, “Lady Double Dealer” and “Smoke On The Water” of the Graz show are finally released under the “The Official Deep Purple (Overseas) Live Series” banner.
While the disc starts with quite straight performances of “Burn” (DC: that was the title of the album “Burn”), “Stormbringer” (DC: this is the title of the last album), “The Gypsy” (GH: this one’s called “The Gypsy”) and “Lady Double Dealer” (GH: this is called “Lady double dealer”) the show changes from “Mistreated” (GH: it’s a blues song called “Mistreated”) on with the inclusion of less or more extensive and inspired solo parts. While most of the original MK III stuff is fun to listen to, especially “Smoke On The Water” (DC: this is a song from the album “Made In Japan”) with Glenn Hughes and David Coverdale singing against each other sounds horrible and the inclusion of “Georgia On My Mind” and “With A Little Help From My Friends” during the end of the song sounds misplaced.
It is also audible that Ritchie Blackmore sounds closer to the soon-to-follow RAINBOW-days than to the Mark II era, even including bits and pieces of the soon-to-be-released “Still I’m Sad” during the intro to ”You Fool No One” (DC: a song called “You fool no one”). The album concludes with “Space Truckin’” (GH: a song which has been with us quite a while), another MK II tune which sounds mistreated by the MK III vocalists and some strange instrumental parts.
Although it’s good to see at least some new stuff being released from the vaults instead of a record company publishing the same things over and over again, it’s annoying this release of the Graz show is still incomplete and lacks the encores. Hopefully the final product will clarify the reason as the press info doesn’t even mention the show being incomplete.