The magical touring year of 1996 for Deep Purple has now been captured on what they dub their "Official Bootleg": Live AT The Olympia '96, or as fanatics call it, LATO '96. It is truly one of their finest live albums ever, right up there with Made In Japan, Scandinavian Nights, and Live In London--and better than such fine efforts as Come Hell or High Water and The Final Mk. III Concerts. LATO '96 finds a band finally having fun again, free to play any songs that all five of them want to play (no offense, Mr. Blackmore, but I could never understand why you were so hell-bent on sticking to the 1972 set list even though there are so many fine gems located elsewhere in your song catalogue). And those "fine gems," tunes like "Maybe I'm A Leo," "When A Blind Man Cries," and "No One Came," finally make their appearance here. So do some of the best tracks from Purpendicular (although, alas no Castle Full of Rascals or Somebody Stole My Guitar). The whole band is playing and singing well. Steve Morse sets everyone on fire with his rapid-fire, modern guitar lines. When I met him recently I complimented him on Purpendicular by saying that with each song I couldn't wait to hear the next, and on Abandon I really liked the raw way they re-did "Bloodsucker." I forgot to bring LATO '96 to the show for him to sign or I would have remembered to tell him that this CD kicks major booty! I even now like the 3 horn players who appear on about four tunes for fun. As Jon Lord told me in alt.music.deep-purple (back when I was known as dpbelle), they were there to spice things up. To Messers Morse and Lord, and the other DP guys, thank you for believing in the power of live music!