Swan song of Deep Purple’s Mark IV lineup captured live on Long Beach 1976

The commercial success of early metal pioneers Deep Purple was about to come to a standstill following the release of Come Taste the Band in October 1975. The group’s tenth studio album was co-produced by the band and longtime associate Martin Birch (Black Sabbath, Whitesnake, Iron Maiden). It’s the only Deep Purple studio record featuring guitarist Tommy Bolin—who replaced founding member Ritchie Blackmore—and is the last album to feature Glenn Hughes on bass and David Coverdale as lead vocalist. The subsequent tour in support of the album was also the last for the band’s Mark IV lineup. An eight-year hiatus followed until the next incarnation of the band (Mark IIb) formed in 1984.

Long Beach 1976 is part of German-based earMUSIC 's Deep Purple/DPO reissue series of rare live recordings. Other collections include Copenhagen 1972, Stockholm 1970, Paris 1975, Graz 1975, and Long Beach 1971. The Long Beach, Calif., show was originally recorded at the Long Beach Arena on February 27, 1976, and was a featured “The King Biscuit Flower Hour” radio broadcast. The syndicated U.S. radio show featured concert performances by top rock artists such as The Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen, and many others.

Deep Purple’s original Mark IV roster included Coverdale, Hughes, Ritchie Blackmore (lead guitar), Jon Lord (keyboards, synthesizers, backing vocals), and Ian Paice (drums, percussion). Bolin was added in 1975 after Blackmore left the band in a personal dispute. The abridged Mark IV ensemble features Bolin's songwriting contributions to Come Taste the Band, and songs from the album make up most of the Long Beach 1976 set list.

In addition to rare tracks from Come Taste the Band, the live set features a “very quirky” ‘Smoke On The Water’ that morphs into a “truly great” rendition of ‘Georgia On My Mind.’ There’s also the ‘Stormbringer’ title track and the Machine Head classic, ‘Highway Star.’ A separate medley of ‘Smoke On The Water’ and ’Georgia On My Mind’ is one of three bonus live tracks taken from a 1976 concert in Springfield, Illinois. ‘Going Down’ and ‘Highway Star’ are also included as bonus live cuts along with new artwork, rare pictures, and updated liner notes written for the 2016 reissue of Long Beach 1976.

While Come Taste the Band never gained the same commercial success as the platinum-selling Machine Head or Made in Japan, the LP does feature a “musically matured Deep Purple” and “some of the best material Deep Purple ever wrote and recorded,” according to a label news release. The band’s late co-founding member and keyboardist, Jon Lord, later praised the album in a documentary about the band. He stated he now finds Come Taste the Band to be “surprisingly good,” but admittedly hampered by a wide-reaching opinion that it’s not a true Deep Purple album.

Internal difficulties—primarily resulting from Bolin's drug addiction—dissolved Deep Purple by the following July. Bolin died of a heroin overdose that December, and the other members left to take on other projects including Coverdale forming Whitesnake. Deep Purple was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in April 2016, and the current lineup resumes its world tour on June 2 in Moscow. Three more concerts in the Russian Federation lead into other venues and festivals throughout Europe including the Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland (July 16).

Watch Deep Purple in a live television performance of ‘Highway Star.’

As A Matter of Fact…

* Deep Purple originally formed in Hertford, England, in 1968. The initial lineup featured guitarist Ritchie Blackmore, vocalist Rod Evans, bassist Nick Simper, keyboardist Jon Lord, and drummer Ian Paice.

* Debut album Shades of Deep Purple is a pop-oriented project from September 1968 that features the Top 5 (No. 4) hit ‘Hush,’ followed by the June 1969 album The Book of Taliesyn and another Top 40 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 with a cover of Neil Diamond's ‘Kentucky Woman’ (No. 38).

* The self-titled third LP released later in 1969 began to set the stage for Deep Purple’s signature sound. Lord's classically influenced keyboards and synthesizer assumed a much greater focus, and new singer Ian Gillan brought a rougher rock edge.

* In 1970, Concerto for Group and Orchestra introduced an early fusion of rock and classical music that would become the foundation for progressive rock. The final touch came when Blackmore took over creative control of the band and moved it in a heavier, guitar-dominated direction that also accented Gillan's powerful vocals.

* Deep Purple’s most creative and commercially successful period began in the summer of 1970 with Deep Purple in Rock. The album sold more than one million copies, and the promotional single ‘Black Night’ got to No. 2 on the U.K. pop charts.

* The album Fireball followed in July 1971, led by smash hit ‘Strange Kind of Woman.’ The inspiration for the band’s biggest hit came when plans to record the next album at a casino in Montreux, Switzerland, were shelved when the venue burned down during a live appearance by Frank Zappa.

* The song ‘Smoke on the Water’ from Deep Purple’s 1972 signature classic Machine Head became a multi-platinum Top 5 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 and firmly established the band among rock's elite. Subsequent live set Made in Japan and the single ‘Woman from Tokyo’ boosted the band’s status even higher.

* The dreaded “creative differences” began to unravel the band until Gillan left in 1974, followed by bassist Roger Glover. The Mark IV lineup was unveiled in February 1974 with the release of Burn, featuring new lead singer David Coverdale and new bassist/singer Glenn Hughes.

* The original lineup of Blackmore, Lord, Paice, Gillan, and Glover reunited in 1984 for the albums Perfect Strangers and The House of Blue Light (1987), and the band’s core rotated on several later albums. Lord left the band in 2002 and died in 2012 after battling pancreatic cancer.

* Surviving members of Deep Purple came together in April 2014 for a Jon Lord tribute concert at London’s Royal Albert Hall, marking the 45th anniversary of Lord's Concerto for Group and Orchestra. The artist’s life is also chronicled in the documentary “Celebrating Jon Lord.”

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