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BMG Music presents
Deep Purple: Come Hell Or High Water (1993)

"There's nothing wrong with jurassic rock, compared with what it's gotta fight against today - which is nothing."
- Ian Paice

Review By: Jeff Ulmer  
Published: July 19, 2001

Stars: Ian Gillian, Jon Lord, Ian Paice, Ritchie Blackmore, Roger Glover
Director: Hugh Symonds

Manufacturer: Sonopress
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Run Time: 01h:58m:31s
Release Date: June 05, 2001
UPC: 755174584596
Genre: rock

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B+ A+B+A B+

DVD Review

As a young guitar student, my teacher lent me a handful of albums that would introduce me to some of the greatest rock and roll of all time. While my tastes at that time included Boston, Kiss and B.T.O., I would be exposed to Captain Beyond, Robin Trower, Rainbow and Deep Purple, the latter two helmed by guitarist extraordinaire, Ritchie Blackmore, whose fiery fretboard antics would match his equally-tempered personality. Forming Deep Purple, alongside drummer Ian Paice and Hammond organist, Jon Lord from the ashes of The Roundabouts, Purple began its recording history with the album Shades Of Deep Purple released in September 1968, which contained their first hit, Hush. This was followed by The Book Of Talysin in December that same year and Deep Purple in June of '69.

Here the first of many personnel changes took place, and the Mark II lineup was born, when Ian Gillian and Roger Glover replaced Rod Evans (who would go on to join Larry 'Rhino' Reinhart and Lee Dorman of Iron Butterfly and Bobby Caldwell to form Captain Beyond) and Nick Simper on vocals and bass. The band's first release, In Rock, showcased a new, harder direction, and their following three albums, Fireball, Machine Head and Who Do We Think We Are would become staples in heavy metal record libraries. Although hated by critics, the band rose to international stardom at the head of the heavy rock movement.

The intensity of their music matched the interpersonal relationships within the band, and in 1973, both Glover and Gillian left, after clashes with bandmate Blackmore became irreconcilable. Glover would turn to producing, and Gillian to form his own band. Deep Purple forged on, producing two albums with their Mark III lineup with David Coverdale (Whitesnake) on vocals and Glenn Hughes on bass; but after two albums in 1974 (Burn and Stormbringer), Blackmore would also depart to form what would become another highly successful band, Rainbow, with Ronnie James Dio (Dio, Black Sabbath) at the mic. Purple's 1975 Come Taste The Band continued the Mark III lineup, eventually adding Tommy Bolin on guitar to replace Blackmore (Mark IV), which would end Purple's recording career for almost a decade.

In 1984 the Mark II lineup was reformed, and the Perfect Strangers album was released, featuring a number of new classics including Knocking At Your Back Door and the title track. This was followed in 1987 by The House Of Blue Light, after which Gillian would leave, then rejoin in 1993 for Blackmore's final Purple album, the aptly titled The Battle Rages On, from which tour the footage for this DVD originates from, shot November 9, 1993 at their Birmingham, England show. Blackmore would subsequently tear up his passport and quit Purple for good, leaving the band to complete the tour without him. The conflicts of these days are aptly captured in this release, both on stage and in interviews from Ian Gillian, Roger Glover, Ian Paice and Jon Lord, which segue each song .

The show opens with Highway Star, and Mr. Blackmore is conspicuous by his absence until after the first verse, when he finally wanders onstage, then proceeds to get up to some hijinx. Once he finally settles down the band begins to cook, with Jon Lord's trademark Hammond C3 grinding out his Leslied "wall of sound"; Ian Paice driving the rhythm section with Roger Glover holding down the bottom end. Ian Gillian is in top form and Ritchie Blackmore, though disappearing offstage at the end of every song, simply rips!

The two hour show features cuts from across most of the Mark II albums, with a few surprises thrown in: Black Night, Talk About Love, Twist In The Tale, and Perfect Strangers. We then get a Purple rendition of a little "Ludwig van" for Lord's solo, though Blackmore opens the number with Ode To Joy on slide guitar. Knocking At Your Back Door follows, along with a personal favorite from the Fireball album, Anyone's Daughter. The classic anthem, Child In Time precedes Anya and The Battle Rages On. The group then gets Lazy before doing a bit of Space Truckin' (which could have been called Paice Truckin' instead of the typo on the case). Woman From Tokyo, a cover of the Stones' Paint It Black and prerequisite Purple, Smoke On The Water, round out the set.

Twenty-five years on from their original recordings together, these five musicians can still get down to some serious rock and roll, and as Ritchie Blackmore's last live performances with Deep Purple, this is a must have for hard rock fans. Nothing compares to the original!

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: A+


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: The video presentation looks great for concert footage, with no real problems, other than the line structure visible when zooming a nonanamorphic widescreen image, and some aliasing on horizontal lines. Colors are vibrant, contrast bang on, and black levels solid. For live footage this is completely acceptable. The interview segments also hold up well, though have a bit of off color due to the lighting used. No complaints.

Image Transfer Grade: B+


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: Deep Purple: Come Hell Or High Water is presented in both stereo and 5.1 mixes, with the 5.1 track definitely being preferred. Separation of the instruments is excellent, allowing clear appreciation of what each member is performing. As is the case with most 5.1 remixes, it appears significantly louder than the two-channel version, and also has more high end information, leading to a more spacious sound, not at all an artificial one as created by simply adding rear channel ambience. The sound is focused across the front channels, with appropriate air from the rear channels. A very encompassing mix, though perhaps the bottom end could have had a bit more weight to it. Nevertheless, prepare to get your ass kicked!

My only complaint is a loss of audio sync for a few seconds at the layer change, which occurs during interview footage. Grading is for the musical element.

Audio Transfer Grade: A


Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Music/Song Access with 16 cues and remote access
Cast and Crew Biographies
Packaging: other
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: RSDL

Extra Extras:
  1. Direct access to interview footage
  2. Member bios
  3. Lineup timeline
  4. Lyrics
Extras Review: The opening menu features a minute of video presentation before we are able to access any menu selections. I like animated menus, but please put up the controls at the start.

Next, we have direct access to the interview portions of the disc, which bridge the feature performances. A member biography section is also included, but it has a fair amount of erroneous information in it (for example Roger Glover did not appear on the Deep Purple album, he was hired prior to In Rock). The menus for this section are also pretty clunky, often leading to the wrong section, or simply going back a page in the bios.

A section containing lyrics to the songs is included, though I'm not sure how valid everything is since some of them weren't included in the original studio LPs. Still, a nice effort, though you are dealing with three or more pages of text per song.

Finally, a Deep Purple lineup overview is included, providing a timeline for the various incarnations of the band.

Extras Grade: B+


Final Comments

As the last videotaped performance before guitarist Ritchie Blackmore left Deep Purple for good, this is a wonderful insight and performance from a band who led the forefront of hard rock music into the 1970s, and who continue to create music without peer to this day. Two solid hours of entertainment, interspersed by interview footage, this documentary is evidence of why these five men have become as revered by musicians and fans as they have. They may be dinosaurs, but they can still kick out the jams like no other. Long live rock and roll. Highly recommended!


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