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DEEP PURPLE: COME HELL OR HIGH WATER

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Review by Michael Jacobson

Audio:  Dolby Digital 5.1, Dolby Stereo
Video:  Widescreen 1.66:1
Studio:  BMG
Features:  Biographies
Length:  120 Minutes
Release Date:  June 6, 2001

Film **1/2

Nearly every aspiring young rock guitarist learned the four two-note chords of “Smoke on the Water” first, and felt like a star after doing so.

That may be Deep Purple’s biggest legacy, but it’s hardly their only one.  Come Hell or High Water, a 1993 concert recording on DVD, proves that.

With the original band members reunited, Ritchie Blackmore, Ian Gillan, Roger Glover, Jon Lord and Ian Paice rocked through two hours of some of Purple’s best material.  All the hits are included, from “Highway Star” and “Smoke on the Water” to “Woman From Tokyo” and “Knocking at Your Back Door”.  Quintessential live performances are also hear, from the majestic and haunting “Child in Time” to the beautiful “Anya”, to the classical stirrings of “Perfect Strangers”.

The band is in top form, and Ritchie Blackmore is problematic…usually the best pair of compliments one could afford the group.   From the opening strains of “Highway Star”, it becomes apparent that he’s not around.  He comes out in time for his solo, which he halts just long enough to throw a cup of water at a cameraman.  In a later interview segment, the other band members express their anger and disappointment over their prima donna guitarist’s antics.

When he’s on stage, Blackmore plays with fire and fury, though he usually skulks around off stage until time for his spotlight.  The other four all seem to be having the time of their life as they rock their way through classic after classic…it’s a curious blend of four against one that makes up the DP legacy almost as much as the chords of “Smoke on the Water”.

The music is good, however, and fans of the group will be very pleased with this DVD offering.  I would have preferred straight music to the one song, one interview clip that predominates the program.  On disc, the concert should have been uninterrupted, and the interview footage assembled as a bonus program.  But, there it is.

Come Hell or High Water should preserve in time all the great things Deep Purple was, as well as those things they’d probably rather not have remembered about them.

Video **

The overall dim look of the concert is probably more the problem of the film stock and not the transfer.  It’s not particularly bad, nor is it unwatchable in the least, but it looks old…much older, in fact, than the mere 8 years it is.  Colors are muted, images are soft, and there are occasional problems with grain and bleeding.

Audio ***1/2

Forgo the stereo mix, crank the 5.1 audio and get ready to rock.  Deep Purple is loud, loud, loud, and this surround mix puts you right in the center of their sonic assault, with deep bass from rhythm section Glover and Paice, and from Lord’s thundering organ music, and high, screaming notes from singer Gillan and Blackmore’s guitar.   This is the next best experience to being at a DP show.

Features *

The disc contains some band member bios, plus a look at the Deep Purple line-ups over the years.

Summary:

They played a good show, they apologized for their guitarist, and they contemplated a future without him.  In other words, it’s everything we’ve come to expect from Deep Purple.  Come Hell or High Water isn’t perfect, but it’s a loud, powerful collection of great songs to spend a couple of hours rocking out with.