THE LONG PLAY

 

The Long Play with Al Neff" is a continuing Sunday evening Feature on The GOAT. This year, Every Sunday Evening, Album Rock WXYG, The GOAT will feature a full album at 8:00 PM from the halcyon musical days of 1972
1972 was another amazing year in Album Rock history. Another year of tough choices every week. So many great ones to choose from.

We hope you’ll tune in next Sunday evening, August 21st for “Made in Japan” a double live album by Deep Purple, recorded during their first tour of Japan in August 1972. It was originally released in December 1972 and became a commercial and critical success.

The band were well known for their strong stage act, and had privately recorded several shows, or broadcast them on radio, but were unenthusiastic about recording a live album until their Japanese record company decided it would be good for publicity. They insisted on supervising the live production, including using Martin Birch, who had previously collaborated with the band, as engineer, and were not particularly interested in the album's release, even after recording. The tour was successful, with strong media interest and a positive response from fans.

The album was an immediate commercial success, particularly in the US, where it was accompanied by the top five hit "Smoke on the Water", and became a steady seller throughout the 1970s. A three-CD set of most of the tour's performances was released in 1993, while a remastered edition of the album with a CD of extra tracks was released in 1998. In 2014, a deluxe edition was announced with further bonus material. The album had a strong critical reception and continues to attract praise. A Rolling Stonereaders' poll in 2012 ranked Made in Japan the sixth best live album of all time.

Deep Purple "Mk II" formed in July 1969 when founding members, guitarist Ritchie Blackmore, organist Jon Lord and drummer Ian Paice recruited singer Ian Gillan and bassist Roger Glover to progress from their earlier pop and psychedelic rock sound towards hard rock. They began touring extensively, becoming a well received live band, and had recorded several shows either to broadcast on the radio or listen to privately. However, they had rejected the idea of releasing a live album commercially as they believed it would be impossible to reproduce the quality and experience of their stage act on an LP.

Consequently, there was a demand for bootleg recordings of the band. The most notorious of these was an LP entitled H Bomb, recorded at Aachen on July 11,1970, which led to a subsequent court case when Virgin Records' Richard Branson was prosecuted for selling it. An article in Melody Maker that examined the bootleg phenomenon claimed that H Bomb was the best selling one at that time. This success, along with albums from other artists such as the Who's Live at Leeds and the Rolling Stones' Get Yer Ya-Ya's Out convinced the band that an official live album would be commercially successful. At the time, Glover told Sounds magazine that "there are so many bootlegs of us going around, if we put out our own live set, it should kill their market."

By 1972, Deep Purple had achieved considerable commercial success in Japan, including several hit singles, so it made sense to tour there. Three dates were booked; the Festival Hall, Osaka on 11 and 12 of May, and the Budokan, Tokyo on August 16th, though these were later changed to 15 and 16 of August, and August 17th respectively due to an earlier US tour being rescheduled. The dates sold out almost immediately, and consequently the Japanese arm of the band's label, Warner Bros. Records, wanted to record the tour for a live album to be released in the country. The band eventually agreed to the idea, but insisted if it was going to be released, they wanted it to be done properly. Gillan recalled, "we said we would have to OK the equipment, we wanted to use our own engineer and we would have the last say on whether the tapes were released". The band enlisted producer Martin Birch, who had worked on previous studio albums, to record the shows onto an 8-track recorder so they could subsequently be mixed.

The band's live setlist had been revamped at the start of the year, immediately after recording the album Machine Head, and that album made up a substantial proportion of new material. Although the setlist remained the same for most of the year, opening with "Highway Star" and closing with "Lazy" and "Space Truckin'", the band's musical skill and structure meant there was sufficient improvisation within the songs to keep things fresh. The original intention was the stage act would be used for about a year before being dropped, but Gillan and Glover both resigned from the band in June 1973. When this line-up reformed in 1984, the 1972 setlist made up a significant amount of material performed in concert.

The band arrived in Japan on August 9th, a week before the tour started, to a strong reception, and were greeted with gifts and flowers. Birch was not confident that the recording quality would be satisfactory, since the equipment supplied by Warner Bros. did not have any balance control and that the recorder's size did not appear big enough on sight to capture a commercial quality recording. The band were uninterested in the result, concentrating on simply being able to deliver a good show. Subsequently, Lord noted that he felt this attitude meant the spontaneity of the performances and interplay between the band members was captured well.

The second gig in Osaka was considered to be the stronger of the two, and indeed this show made up the bulk of the released LP. Only one song, "Smoke on the Water" from the August 15th show was used, and this may simply have been because it was the only gig that Blackmore played the song's opening riff as per the studio album.

The band considered the gig at Tokyo on August 17th to be the best of the tour. Glover remembered "twelve or thirteen thousand Japanese kids were singing along to 'Child in Time'" and considered it a career highlight, as did Gillan. At the venue, a row of bodyguards manned the front of the stage. When Blackmore smashed his guitar during the end of "Space Truckin'" and threw it into the audience, several of them clambered past fans to try and retrieve it. Blackmore was annoyed, but the rest of the band found the incident amusing. The gig was not as well recorded as the Osaka shows, although "The Mule" and "Lazy" were considered of sufficient quality to make the final release.

There were no overdubs on the album. Lord claimed once in a magazine interview that a line from "Strange Kind of Woman" had to be redubbed from a different show after Gillan had tripped over his microphone cable, but no direct evidence of this was found when the multitrack tapes were examined. According to Lord, the total budget for the recording was only $3,000 (equivalent to £42,109 in 2021).

The band did not consider the album to be important and only Glover and Paice showed up to mix it. According to Birch, Gillan and Blackmore have never heard the finished album. The band did not want the album to be released outside Japan and wanted full rights to the tapes, but it was released worldwide anyway.

The album was released in the UK in December 1972, with a special offer price of £3.25, the same as a typical single LP from that period. It reached number 16 in the charts. The cover was designed by Glover and featured a color photo of the band on the front and rear covers, and black and white photos in the inside gatefold. The release in the US was delayed until April 1973, because Warner Bros. wanted to release Who Do We Think We Are first. They were motivated into releasing it due to a steady flow of UK imports being purchased, and it was an immediate commercial success, reaching number 6 in the charts. Warner Brothers also released "Smoke on the Water" as a single, coupling the live recording on Made in Japan with the studio version on Machine Head, and it reached number 4 in the Billboard charts. A recording of "Black Night" from the Tokyo gig, one of the encores that was not on the album, was released as the B-side to the single "Woman from Tokyo" in Europe, and as a single in its own right in Japan.

The Japanese release was titled Live in Japan and featured a unique sleeve design, with an overhead stage shot of the band, a selection of photographs from a gig at the Rainbow Theatre in London, and an insert with lyrics and a hand-written message from each band member. The first pressing came with a 35mm film negative with photos of the band which buyers could develop into their own prints. The sleeve notes claimed that the recording only contained the Tokyo gig, though in fact it was musically identical to the version released in the rest of the world. Phil Collen, later to play in Def Leppard, was in the audience for the Rainbow gig as captured on the sleeve.

The band had mixed feelings about the album. Gillan was critical of his own performance, yet impressed with the quality of the recording, while Lord listed it as his favorite Deep Purple album, saying, "The band was at the height of its powers. That album was the epitome of what we stood for in those days." "It's still probably the best live rock 'n' roll album ever made," declared Paice, who suggested that the shows were some of the group's best. "And that's putting everything Led Zeppelin have done, anything Black Sabbath may have done, Bad Company, Free... As a tour de force of innovation and living on the edge and great playing with a fantastic sound, nothing comes close."

The response from critics was favorable. Rolling Stone's Jon Tiven wrote that "Made in Japan is Purple's definitive metal monster, a spark-filled execution ... Deep Purple can still cut the mustard in concert". Subsequently, a 2012 readers' poll in the magazine declared the album to be the sixth best live album of all time, adding the band have performed "countless shows since in countless permutations, but they've never sounded quite this perfect."

Recent reviews have been equally positive. Allmusic's William Ruhlmann considered the album to be "a definitive treatment of the band's catalog and its most impressive album". Rock author Daniel Bukszpan claimed the album is "widely acknowledged as one of the greatest live albums of all time". Goldmine magazine said the album "defined Deep Purple even as it redefined the concept of the live album." Deep Purple author Dave Thompson wrote "the standing of Deep Purple's first (and finest) live album had scarcely diminished in the quarter-century since its release".

Tune In and Turn On for “Made In Japan” from Deep Purple next Sunday Evening, August 21st and every Sunday evening at 8:00 PM for The GOAT'S "The Long Play with Al Neff.”

Don’t forget, right after the “Long Play”, we do a “Replay” of this week’s GOAT GUEST DJ SHOW.

 

 

 

 

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