Back in 1975 after being told of Ritchie Blackmore's intention to leave the ranks of Deep Purple, and fearing that this would be the end of the band, Purple's management decided to cover their bases by recording the final shows on the Spring 1975 European tour with the intention of putting out a double live album in the event that the band folded.
Well they didn't....at least not for another year, by which time the tapes had been shelved. When the band finally dissolved in 1976, the management leapt on this opportunity and released what turned out to be the first in a very long line of Deep Purple exploitation albums. Don't get me wrong, "Made In Europe" was OK, if you ignore the fact that the applause was a tape loop, the songs were hacked together from the best bits of each version recorded on the tour, and the label of the original LP had a picture of Tommy Bolin. Talk about crass!!
But there are people out there who love Deep Purple, and this is one of the many results. With this release the feeling of a "real" concert has been restored, the running order has been reinstated, and we get to hear the Mark III line-up run through some great songs.
Ignore some of the editorial on this album. "Stormbringer" was issued on "Made In Europe" along with "Burn", "Mistreated", "Lady Double Dealer", and "You Fool No One". It is the tracks they didn't bother with the first time around that hold some of the surprises. The inclusion of "Gypsy" is something of a surprise, coming as it does from the album which forced Blackmore to reconsider his position, and one which he described as cr*p!
What is nice about CDs is the ability to include alternate versions. OK, in many cases they don't bring anything new, but at least it gives an idea of what went on at different shows, and if you don't like one version you can program an alternative.
Some of the reviews from the time said that Blackmore was preoccupied with his own project during this tour, but it is hard to figure out where this new material was sneaked in. "Burn" blasts the show open as it always did, and the medley of "Going Down/Highway Star" brings the show to a high-octane ending.
All in all, this makes a much better souvenir of the final 1975 shows than "Made In Europe" although after all these years it would be nice to play the two albums back-to-back to hear the differences. Maybe it is time that the fans had more input into the posthumous releases of their favorite bands.
Does this album rate 5 stars? To this listener, yes it does...but you be the judge.