Still one of the greatest hard rock live albums ever!
Terrence J. Reardon | Lake Worth (a west Palm Beach suburb), FL | 01/28/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Deep Purple's classic double live album Made in Japan was released in December of 1972 in the UK and in January of 1973 in the US.
Prior to Deep Purple's Made in Japan, there were a few great live rock albums that had been made (The Who's Live at Leeds, Grand Funk Railroad's Grand Funk Live, The Rolling Stones' Get Yer Ya-Ya's Out, Allman Brothers Band's Live at Fillmore East and of course Humble Pie's Performance - Rockin the Fillmore) but a majority of live albums recorded uo to 1972 had crummy sonic quality. Made in Japan changed that. The album was recorded as Deep Purple were touring in support of their classic album Machine Head in Japan in August of 1972 by their long serving recording and mixing engineer Martin Birch during the Japanese leg of Purple's Machine Head tour. The versions of the songs on the Made in Japan album were the best performances of each track.
We begin the first side of the album with a stellar version of "Highway Star" done with more power and finesse than the studio version as lead singer Ian Gillan sings and screams his heart out and guitarist Ritchie Blackmore plays like a demon possessed. Next is a stellar version of the epic "Child in Time" which buries its studio counterpart by a longshot. I swear Gillan's screams on here were unearthly. Keyboardist Jon Lord is incredible here as is Blackmore's insane guitar work.
The album's original second side kicked off with the definitive version of "Smoke On the Water". This version blows the studio version into the water as it has more guts and power than the studio version. Also, Blackmore gets to stretch out here as does Lord at the end of the track. Next is "The Mule" which is drummer Ian Paice's killer drum solo and proves he is arguably the best left handed drummer in all of rock and roll history.
The original double album's second disc and third side starts with a stellar version of "Strange Kind of Woman" which is an amazing version of that stellar track. We then follow with an excellent version of the Machine Head album track "Lazy" which has some excellent bass playing from Roger Glover plus Gillan screams his lungs out and plays some mean harmonica. Lastly Messieurs Lord, Blackmore and Paice play the track as if they were playing their last concert.
The album's original last side was taken up by an almost 20 minute version of the classic Machine Head track "Space Truckin'". This version starts out as a jam before going into a killer version of the track and ending with a 15 minute or so jam with all four band members playing like their lives depended on it.
Made in Japan was also a first in live album history as there were NO OVERDUBS whatsoever on the album. Furthermore, much to the chagrin of KISS fans and those who love Alive! (another great album but not the greatest live album of all time, I apologize), Made in Japan was one of the first double albums to chart in the US Top 10 as it reached #6 on the Billboard album charts in 1973 thanks to the live version of "Smoke On the Water" becoming a hit single and has sold a million plus copies here in the US.
Made in Japan was proof that the live album did matter and is possibly the best live album of the 1970s hands down!