Articles > Music
Are you a fan? I do not mean an asylum-escaped fanatic or a brain-damaged head banger, but at least a steady supporter? Maybe one of the kind that every once in a while puts on headphones and cracks a smile over familiar tunes. And then even more once in a while pays a visit to a concert, as happening to us the other night, when Thin Lizzy and Whitesnake called... and we even answered.
Among Purple People
Going places is a good time to think things over, and so the idea for this page came to me in the car. I would select the folder "Purple People" on my mp3-device, containing a collection of Deep Purple songs and compositions by spin-off groups in the "purple family" such as Gillan, Rainbow and Whitesnake, including further relatives like Dio, Bolin, Hughes and Blackmore's Night. Among others, the Gillan & Glover cover version of the classic nonsense track "It was a one eyed, one horned flying Purple People Eater" would come up. The other night I had read about Germanization of hit songs from the 1950's and 1960's and found out that its German version had been called "Er war der Wumba-Tumba Schokoladeneisverkaeufer - He was the Wumba-Tumba Chocolate Ice Cream Man".
Forevermore in the House of Blue Light
It had been so many years ago since Deep Purple had transformed the Vienna City Hall into a "house of blue light". Switching channels: Now we were back to see "the snakes", purple spin off group of the very first hour - in their very last hour, as it seemed. Our full focus was on sweet songs that had accompanied us "forevermore", as they turned the same place into a trembling beehive of screaming sensation.
"In an equally sensational and lively hard rock-threesome, Thin Lizzy, Whitesnake and Judas Priest would stomp the gas pedal in the Vienna City Hall", the daily newspaper reported. As an opener, "the boys" from Thin Lizzy were "back in town" with new singer Ricky Warwick, warming up the audience with the bilingual question: "Are you ready - Seid Ihr bereit?" During the encore "Rosalie", we were encouraged to "do it again for Mr Phil Lynott and Mr Gary Moore". Then Whitesnake started to bring back memories of "the best years" and made loud statements with guitar duels and drum solos that "here they go again", until we would be left behind once more "in the still of the night".
Priest "concluded the evening's soiree", but tired "purple people" would "break the unwritten law" and leave before the lesson in "British steel" was over. Yet the richest part of the concert had been experiencing it with good friends, who had shared the same purple enthusiasm over all these years and had "stuck" despite all timely limitations. At a nearby hot dog stand, we would slowly regain our sense of hearing over a cheesy Kransky sausage and a chewy "hunchback"-bread heel.
David Coverdale gave his best during the "Forevermore"-concert in Vienna, although some were missing the more melodic older tunes. The show included free heart rhythm massage by the bass drum and four voiced choirs on exchangeable new song material. For sure it was loud!
Here We Go Again
Probably, it had all started with copying the compilation "Deepest Purple" to a good ol' analogue music cassette. Around the same time, at some disco night at a skiing week, we had kneeled down with clenched fists to the chorus of "Smo-o-o-ke on the Water" to express our passion for the instantly reckognizable and yet so simple riff, which was based on an inversion of Beethoven's fifth. Next we were hunting after rarities such as the omitted "When a Blind Man cries", which became available to us on a "Deep Purple Mark I & II" compilation. And of course "Painted Horse" on the "Powerhouse" compilation. The songs later made it as bonus tracks onto remastered versions of the albums "Machine Head" and "Who Do We Think We Are". When they were back, we "remembered their name" and before attending a Purple concert at the Vienna City Hall, we were guessing their opening song. It turned out to be "Highway Star", first track of their legendary "Made in Japan" live album.
From those days, I even remember us singing "Soldier of Fortune" on the hallway at school, "a song some of you will be familiar with" that caught my attention again in a stripped down acoustic version on Coverdale & Vandenberg's "Starkers in Tokyo"-album. Lately, when I told an American colleague about the upcoming Whitesnake concert, he concluded that I was into "late 1990's Heavy Metal". This was probably caused by the fact that Whitesnake never took off in the States, as long as it was a blues rock formation with Moody & Marsden on guitar & bass, "singing beautifully" songs like "Ain't No Love in the Heart of the City" together with their fans, the Whitesnake choir. But times pass and after attending the latest wild gig I am wondering, whether he was right after all.
Dio, Moore, you name it... Lately, too many good musicians said good-bye forevermore. Fare thee well, and let them not be forgotten! So we had to just jump on those Whitesnake concert tickets. Who knows, how often they would return to play in the heart of Europe?
Past Times with Good Company
The same all time favorite song about a Soldier, one of Fortune, found its way on a Live CD called "Past Times with Good Company". It was performed by Candice Night, wife of guitar legend Richie Blackmore, formerly part of Purple's creative core, the legendary triangle Gillan-Blackmore-Lord. They would leave Rainbow and hard rock behind to partner up on renaissance music as Blackmore's Night, travel castles and perform at folk festivals. Their song "Play, Minstrel, Play" even features "Jethro Tull"-front man Ian Anderson, generally admired for his "Locomotive Breath", playing the flute.
Watching the last Cinerama film "How the West was Won" (unfortunately not on the intended three panel-deep curve screen), among episodes starring James Stewart and John Wayne there was especially this song: "Away, away, come away with me, and I'll build you a... Home in the Meadow." One of many lyrics to the 16th-century melody "Greensleeves", originally texted "Alas, my love, you do me wrong, to cast me off discourteously." Which is also known as the Christmas song "What Child is this... who, laid to rest on Mary's lap, is sleeping?" After recording "Sixteenth Century Greensleeves", Blackmore had asked Dio whether he and rest of "Elf" were interested in putting a band together with him, what became "Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow". Later he would admit that he had been playing the traditional "Greensleeves" to himself in hotel rooms, as it was moving him, while on stage he would be performing with Deep Purple. Blackmore's Night's first CD would include an interpretation of the original song. The green sleeves, by the way, could refer to grass stains from lying down outside. What colour do your sleeves have today?
The sign of the Metal Fork: At the Hard Rock Cafe in Athens even the silverware makes "metal horns", the most famous Rock'n'Roll gesture. Trend-setter R.J. Dio had introduced the favourite hand sign of his Italian grandmother to the rock concert stage and left his unmistakable handprints at the Hollywood Rock Walk. We prefer to eat with regular forks though...
Sit Down and Be Quiet
During a music lesson at school, a class mate held a speech about the Purple genealogy, an eye-opener. Another one recommended me buying the "Rainbow Rising" vinyl. From that moment on, Ronnie-James Dio accompanied us with his strong low voice, and after a long ball night we would assemble at my place to listen to his recommendation "Don't Talk To Strangers". Known for playing part in two of the greatest rock releases ever, Rainbow's "Rising" and post-Ozzy-Sabbath's "Heaven and Hell", also Dio, the solo act, would prove its legitimacy from the very beginning, starting with the jaw-dropping "Holy Diver" album. Listening to his songs, you may not just "dream evil" but also "can't help your face cracking into a smile". While kids are usually being told to "sit down and be quiet", Ronnie-James proclaimed the opposite: "Stand up and shout!"
Dio fans would raise their hand in the sign of the horned beast, which decorated his album covers. His Italian origin and hence the source of his devil horns gesture ("corna" is Italian for horns) is revealed by his family name Padavona, which he dropped during his early days with the gargantuan music group "Elf" (with band members so short that they actually looked like elves). Instead, he adopted the stage name "Dio", the Italian expression for God. One of his live-releases would carry the bold title "Evil or Divine". Shortly after he had reformed his Black Sabbath-buddies under the group name "Heaven & Hell", Dio, at age 67, was diagnosed cancer, a dragon within he couldn't kill... \m/\m/
What he did on his Vacation
Speaking of the deep cool guys, I always felt that "What I did on my vacation" was such a great idea for a record name. The same double volume, collecting songs from Ian Gillan's solo career, was released shortly after the purple reunion of those "Perfect Strangers". A tale of sorrow after a relationship rather than the imaginary story of a football team called Perfect St. Rangers, as Ian would joke on stage. A perfect example of "Gillanism" and a song around the ultimate question: "Can you remember? Remember my name?"
In 2009, Ian Gillan released an interesting song called "One eye to Morocco". The lyrics describe him losing focus on a conversation "sounding like a distant blur" due to his "wandering eye" looking at a girl walking by. In a cafe in southern Poland, his counterpart had noticed the mental absence and said: "Ian, you have one eye to Morocco." A colleague explained me that the Polish phrase refers to looking into different directions at the same time: "Jedno oko na Maroko, a drugie na Kaukaz - One eye to Morocco and the other to the Caucasus."
Combined with oriental flair, it is used as a musical metaphor for drifting thoughts. As the song lyrics describe it: "Conversation is fading away... your lips are moving, but I hear no words." Have you also already experienced a similar situation? We often seem to participate in things we have to do and try to follow, while in reality we are easily distracted, as our mind already starts drifting away.
And by the way, Good-Bye Again!
Music that stays on is a good catch line for mentioning someone, who had left way too early. Tommy Bolin came to short lived fame when being recruited from the James Gang to "come and taste the band" Deep Purple, as it turned into a blues rock formation before the (in-)definite split in 1976, a musical diaspora which lasted for eight years. While David Coverdale would continue into the same musical direction with Whitesnake, Tommy on the other hand didn't have much time left. Apart from later released Purple Live Albums (such as the hastily mixed and heavily edited "Last Concert in Japan", which was later re-issued in full length as "This Time Around: Live in Tokyo"), the last heard of him were two Solo Albums including classics like "Wild Dogs (My baggage handcuffed to my wrists…)" or "(And by the way) Hello Again".
Reflecting his death at the too young age of 25, I still wonder what motivates people to such destructive habits, as if they were in fact handcuffed and unable to break free while they could realistically already foresee how those things will end. Of course, we live in a society where certain people think they have to prove exceptions to the rules and overestimate themselves and their health condition. "And in the end, we're all gonna die" is in this context more true than ever and coming much faster than it should. Even 20 years later, the Tommy Bolin Archives would release rarities and Glenn Hughes, messenger between Deep Purple and Black Country Communion, would dedicate live performances of the song "This Time Around" to Tommy, "a friend, who became my brother".
The battle yell "I got it all in the box (Ich hab alles im Kasten)", relief after long recording sessions in real-time from vinyl to tape, nowadays sounds like a faded memory. So does reminiscence to the handwritten design of music cassette covers. The (remastered) music still sounds fresh through, when we add it to our latest digital collection.
Within one generation audio media have developed from records and tapes to discs and files. Our recording sessions have mutated from tape recording to burning CDs and mp3-file download of our home collection of all-time favourite songs... which we then discuss online.