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Deep Purple - In The Absence Of Pink: Knebworth 85 CD (album) cover


Deep Purple



3.39 | 30 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars A much better live album than surrounding circumstances would have suggested this should have been. There are four tracks from PS, but at least two of them are "Knocking at Your Back Door" and the title track (here called "Perfect Street Rangers"), which are done extremely well (the other two are "Nobody's Home" and "Gypsy's Kiss," neither of which are done extremely well, though at least the latter has a bluesy intro). As for the older stuff, there are some of the expected problems, but they're much less prominent than you'd think (in other words, Nobody's Perfect this is not). Gillan, for instance, sounds surprisingly decent; he sounds a bit like a yelping dog in "Strange Kind of Woman," but he manages the high notes in "Highway Star" alright, and his vocals overall manage to sound way, way less creaky than they did on PS.

It's not just a competent Gillan that makes me give this a very good grade. The band is extremely tight, and furthermore shows that it hadn't lost the spirit of its peak 70's performances. In other words, whereas in a few years, "Space Truckin'" would be reduced to a five-minute "greatest hits" runthrough, here it's a good fifteen minutes, with a snippet of Ravel's "Bolero" thrown into the extended coda for good measure. "Speed King" also gets a surprising extension, with Ritchie pulling out the riffs to "Burn" and "Land of a Thousand Dances" (!) while Ian sings "Not Fade Away." Heck, they even do an instrumental version of an old Rainbow number ("Difficult to Cure"), and while I'm largely unfamiliar with Rainbow and thus am not completely sure which parts are faithful to the number and which parts are the band goofing around, I'm moderately amused at the way it's based around "Ode to Joy."

Sheesh, and did I mention yet that Ritchie is on fire in this concert? I don't mean it in the technically great but sterile way of Nobody's Perfect either, I mean on a level that's at least, I dunno, 80% of the intensity level found on Japan, which is sufficient to make this one hell of a Ritchie performance. And heck, this is the second best "Lazy" I've ever heard (first is from the In Concert double CD), not in the least because of Ritchie (it also helps that the obligatory Paice solo is short, heh).

Basically, this is just a fun, spirited performance. Ian can't keep a straight face, for instance, when he tries to introduce "Speed King" as a ballad and as the slowest, most agonizingly depressing song they'd ever done; that feeling of goofy levity, staring in the face of non-stop rain and gloomy weather, is something I can feel throughout the concert, and that's a positive. What it kinda reminds me of, actually, is a bootleg I have of the first Yes concert of the Rabin era; the band is mildly uncertain and on edge, but this translates into the band working its collective tail off, and that ever-present sense of effort makes the album a very fun listen. Undoubtedly, this is my favorite post-70's release of the Mk 2.x lineup, and I happily recommend it.

tarkus1980 | 4/5 |


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