Deep Purple – Made In Japan

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More Recordings Engineered by Martin Birch

  • Get ready to rumble! This UK copy boasts INCREDIBLE Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or close to it on all FOUR SIDES – remarkably quiet vinyl too
  • A phenomenally well-recorded album that’s a true Demo Disc on an exceptional pressing such as this
  • Turn it up and you will hear sound that is incredibly powerful and natural with amazing presence, energy and weight down low
  • Marks in the vinyl are sometimes the nature of the beast with these Classic Rock records – there simply is no way around them if the superior sound of vintage analog is important to you
  • Rolling Stone: “They’ve done countless shows since in countless permutations, but they’ve never sounded quite this perfect.”.
  • If you’re a fan of the band, this title from 1972 is clearly one of their best
  • The complete list of titles from 1972 that we’ve reviewed to date can be found here.

Having just played a stack of copies of Made In Japan, I’d put the album right up there with the best recorded live albums of all time. In terms of Tubey Magic, richness and naturalness — qualities that are usually in very short supply on live albums — I would have to say that the shootout winning copies of Made In Japan would be very likely to take Top Honors for Best Sounding Live Album of All Time.

Yes, the sound is that good.

Machine Head Live? That would not be far off, and the fact they brought Martin Birch along with them all the way to Japan in order to engineer a live album that was only supposed to sell to the Japanese market (!) could not have been more fortuitous for us audiophiles.

Machine Head is clearly one of the best sounding hard rock records ever made, and Made In Japan, its successor, sounds more like a top quality studio production than any live album I’ve ever heard. It’s shocking how clean and undistorted the sound is. Equally shocking is the fact that it’s every bit as big and lively as a Hard Rockin’ Live Album should be.

This is a combination the likes of which we have never heard.

What The Best Sides Of Made In Japan Have To Offer Is Not Hard To Hear

  • The biggest, most immediate staging in the largest acoustic space
  • The most Tubey Magic, without which you have almost nothing. CDs give you clean and clear. Only the best vintage vinyl pressings offer the kind of Tubey Magic that was on the tapes in 1972
  • Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
  • Natural tonality in the midrange — with all the instruments having the correct timbre
  • Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional studio space

No doubt there’s more but we hope that should do for now. Playing the record is the only way to hear all of the qualities we discuss above, and playing the best pressings against a pile of other copies under rigorously controlled conditions is the only way to find a pressing that sounds as good as this one does.

Tonight I’m Gonna Rock You Tonight

The best sides tended to have the same qualities. They were huge, open, clear, transparent, rich, tubey and natural.

And of course they rocked, with startling dynamics, massive amounts of bass and a full-bodied midrange. The better the pressing the more the instruments jumped right out of the speakers. Live in your listening room was the sound we were after, and this copy delivered it!

We’ve raved about a number of live albums over the years. Some of the better sounding ones that come readily to mind (in alphabetical order) are Belafonte at Carnegie Hall, David Live, Johnny Cash At San Quentin, Donny Hathaway Live, The Jimi Hendrix Concerts, Performance – Rockin The Fillmore, Live Wire – Blues Power, Waiting For Columbus, Get Your Ya-Ya’s Out and Live at Leeds. I would be proud to have any of them in my collection.

What We’re Listening For On Made In Japan

  • Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
  • Then: presence and immediacy. The vocals aren’t “back there” somewhere, lost in the mix. They’re front and center where any recording engineer worth his salt would put them.
  • The Big Sound comes next — wall to wall, lots of depth, huge space, three-dimensionality, all that sort of thing.
  • Then transient information — fast, clear, sharp attacks, not the smear and thickness so common to these LPs.
  • Tight punchy bass — which ties in with good transient information, also the issue of frequency extension further down.
  • Next: transparency — the quality that allows you to hear deep into the soundfield, showing you the space and air around all the instruments.
  • Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing — an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.

Vinyl Condition

Mint Minus Minus and maybe a bit better is about as quiet as any vintage pressing will play, and since only the right vintage pressings have any hope of sounding good on this album, that will most often be the playing condition of the copies we sell. (The copies that are even a bit noisier get listed on the site are seriously reduced prices or traded back in to the local record stores we shop at.)

Those of you looking for quiet vinyl will have to settle for the sound of other pressings and Heavy Vinyl reissues, purchased elsewhere of course as we have no interest in selling records that don’t have the vintage analog magic of these wonderful recordings.

If you want to make the trade-off between bad sound and quiet surfaces with whatever Heavy Vinyl pressing might be available, well, that’s certainly your prerogative, but we can’t imagine losing what’s good about this music — the size, the energy, the presence, the clarity, the weight — just to hear it with less background noise.

Fun Fact

To our surprise we discovered that some of the stampers for some of the sides on some of the British import pressings are actually sourced from a well known American cutting house. When those sides did poorly in the shootout, naturally we wanted to know more about them in order to avoid buying any more pressings with those markings. We had no idea the British would “import” the metalwork from here, but they did, and the results were not good, at least not for us audiophiles. I hope it goes without saying that we will not be selling any versions of the album that are not cut in England.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

Highway Star
Child In Time

Side Two

Smoke On The Water
The Mule

Side Three

Strange Kind of Woman
Lazy

Side Four

Space Truckin’

AMG Review

Recorded over three nights in August 1972, Deep Purple’s Made in Japan was the record that brought the band to headliner status in the U.S. and elsewhere, and it remains a landmark in the history of heavy metal music… By stretching out and going to extremes, Deep Purple pushed its music into the kind of deliberate excess that made heavy metal what it became, and their audience recognized the breakthrough, propelling the original double LP into the U.S. Top Ten and sales over a million copies.

More Reviews

The response from critics was favourable. John Tiven, writing in Rolling Stone said “Made in Japan is Purple’s definitive metal monster, a spark-filled execution…”

Subsequently, a readers’ poll in the magazine declared the album to be the sixth best live album of all time, adding the band have performed “countless shows since in countless permutations, but they’ve never sounded quite this perfect.”

Recent reviews have been equally positive. Rock author Daniel Bukszpan claimed the album is “widely acknowledged as one of the greatest live albums of all time.”

Goldmine magazine said the album “defined Deep Purple even as it redefined the concept of the live album.”

Deep Purple author Dave Thompson wrote “the standing of Deep Purple’s first (and finest) live album had scarcely diminished in the quarter-century since its release.”

Background

The band were well known for their strong stage act, and had privately recorded several shows, or broadcast them on radio, but were unenthusiastic about recording a live album until their Japanese record company decided it would be good for publicity. They insisted on supervising the live production, including using Martin Birch, who had previously collaborated with the band, as engineer, and were not particularly interested in the album’s release, even after recording.

The album was an immediate commercial success, particularly in the US, where it was accompanied by the top five hit “Smoke on the Water”, and became a steady seller throughout the 1970s. The album had a strong critical reception and continues to attract praise. A Rolling Stone readers’ poll in 2012 ranked Made in Japan the sixth best live album of all time.

The band’s live setlist had been revamped at the start of the year, immediately after recording Machine Head, and that album made up a substantial proportion of new material. Although the setlist remained the same for most of the year, opening with “Highway Star” and closing with “Lazy” and “Space Truckin'”, the band’s musical skill and structure meant there was sufficient improvisation within the songs to keep things fresh.

Wikipedia


FURTHER READING

This record sounds best this way:

On Big Speakers at Loud Levels 

On the Right Early Pressing 

On the Right Import Pressing