Top Artists – Deep Purple

Deep Purple – One of the All Time Great Sounding Live Rock Albums

deeppmadei_1606_1152215422More of the Music of Deep Purple

More Live Recordings of Interest

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 hear far too rarely.

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 listed below. Fans of any of these bands can be proud to have a Hot Stamper pressing of any of these albums in their collection.

The albums I would want in my personal collection are noted with an asterisk [*].

  • The Band / Rock of Ages*
  • Harry Belafonte / At Carnegie Hall*
  • David Bowie / David Live*
  • Johnny Cash / At San Quentin
  • Cheap Trick / At Budokan
  • Eric Clapton / Just One Night*
  • Deep Purple / Made in Japan
  • Donny Hathaway / Live*
  • Jimi Hendrix / The Jimi Hendrix Concerts
  • Humble Pie / Performance – Rockin’ The Fillmore
  • Albert King / Live Wire – Blues Power
  • Little Feat / Waiting For Columbus*
  • Lou Rawls / Live!*
  • The Rolling Stones / Get Your Ya-Ya’s Out* 
  • The Who / Live at Leeds*

Having just played a stack of copies of Made In Japan, I’d put it right up there with the best of the best.

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 might just take Top Honors for Best Sounding Live Rock Album of All Time. Yes, the sound is that good.

Want to find your own top quality copy?

Consider taking our Moderately Helpful Advice about the pressings that have tended to win shootouts over the years.

In our experience, this record sounds best this way:

On Big Speakers at Loud Levels 

On the Right Early Pressing 

On the Right British Import Pressing 

Watch out for this UK pressing, it sounds as dubby as the domestic pressings do.


FURTHER READING

New to the Blog? Start Here

More Helpful Advice on Doing Your Own Shootouts

Important Lessons We Learned from Record Experiments 

Key Tracks for Critical Listening 

Deep Purple – In Rock

  • Both these UK sides have excellent sound for the band’s 1970 Classic
  • Only the Brit Harvest LPs such as this one are made from the actual master tape, and it sure ain’t hard to hear the difference using the real tape makes
  • In our experience, these import pressings are the only way to hear the band with the big, rich, Tubey Magical sound they’re famous for
  • 4 1/2 stars: “Deep Purple’s soon to be classic Mark II version made its proper debut and established the sonic blueprint that would immortalize this lineup of the band on 1970’s awesome In Rock.”
  • If you’re a fan of the band, this classic from 1970 belongs in your collection.

The best pressings give you exactly what you want from this brand of straight ahead rock and roll: presence in the vocals; solid, note-like bass; big punchy drums, and the kind of live-in-the-studio energetic, clean and clear sound. (AC/DC is another band with that kind of live studio sound. With big speakers and the power to drive them YOU ARE THERE.) (more…)

Deep Purple – Made In Japan

More Deep Purple

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.

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Letter of the Week – “Hard to believe it can sound much better.”

More of the Music of Deep Purple

More of the Music of Jackson Browne

One of our good customers had this to say about some Hot Stampers he purchased recently. He bought two Jackson Browne albums — The Pretender and Late for the Sky, not sure which he is talking about below — as well as the Deep Purple album you see pictured.

Hey Tom, 

I am taking my time going through all my hot stampers one by one. Still waiting for my cartridge to break in so I know things will only get better.

This album is amazing. I forgot how good it was. Only had the cassette back in the day and loved playing it in the car. The overall tonal balance is fantastic. Big, room filling sound. Jackson’s voice is just so well centered in the mix.

I think your rating may have been a bit conservative. Hard to believe it can sound much better.

Side 2 is probably my favorite and sounds even better than side 1 to my ears–but it is close. Another winner for sure.

Thanks!

Rob

Rob,

So glad you liked it!

As for the grades, we don’t keep them around, but we liked two copies better than that one, which just goes to show you never know how good a record can sound until you hear a better sounding copy, and we heard two.

This is something the forum posters of the audio world have always had trouble understanding.

They think they have a Hot Stamper when what they probably have is a good sounding record.

The word “probably” in the sentences above and below is doing a lot of heavy lifting here.

Nothing in audio or record collecting could be more important than appreciating how little we can really know and how much there is to learn. [3]

The forum posters of the audio world simply have no way to know how amazing the recording can sound — so much better than the record they own, probably — so they assume [1] they have the best.

They probably do not, but no one can actually know for sure, and that includes us.

We do not judge records we have never played (although we do like to make educated guesses about some of them from time to time, for sport if for no other reason).

A shootout would provide some of the evidence they need in order to know where on the bell curve their copy sits, and they have simply never conducted one. They have an anecdote, and not a very trustworthy one. What they lack is data [2].

Best, TP

Rob followed up with this:

PS.  Forgot to mention re: Made In Japan.  I remember owning the UK import when it came out in 1972 as I recall. Bought it at the Wherehouse–Sold it years ago and lived through CD versions in the car.  Then I put on the hot stamper.  Man, I did not realize what an amazing album that is.  Had to play all 4 sides on one sitting–it is so good!

Rob

I can’t call myself a fan of the album but I know a great sounding pressing when I hear one.

TP

[1] More on the subject of assumptions here.

[2] More on the subject of data here.

[3] More on the subject of not knowing how much you don’t know here.


FURTHER READING

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Deep Purple – Fireball

More Deep Purple

More British Blues Rock

  • Fireball returns to the site on this KILLER original Harvest UK import with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or close to it from start to finish
  • This LP was simply bigger, richer and clearer, with more Tubey Magic, less smear and less congestion than the other vintage pressings we played
  • One of Ian Gillian’s favorite albums, “… it was really the beginning of tremendous possibilities of expression.”
  • 4 1/2 stars: “One of Deep Purple’s four indispensable albums (the others being In Rock, Machine Head, and Burn), 1971’s Fireball saw the band broadening out from the no-holds-barred hard rock direction of the previous year’s cacophonous In Rock.”

This vintage Harvest pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records rarely even BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing signs of coming back. If you love hearing INTO a recording, actually being able to “see” the performers, and feeling as if you are sitting in the studio with the band, this is the record for you. It’s what vintage all analog recordings are known for — this sound. (more…)

Deep Purple / Made In Japan – UK Vinyl But Mastered in the States?

More of the Music of Deep Purple

Reviews and Commentaries for Made In Japan

To our dismay, 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.

This is what you learn when you have lots of copies of the same album and play them against each other.

We constantly Experiment with Different Record Pressings this way and we recommend you do the same.

Carry out as many experiments as you can find time for. The quality of your collection — at least the sonic quality of your collection — will improve immensely.

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Deep Purple / Machine Head on Rhino 180 Gram Vinyl

More Deep Purple

More British Blues Rock

Sonic Grade: F

You can find this one in our Hall of Shame, along with more than 350 others that — in our opinion — qualify as some of the worst sounding records ever made. (On some records in the Hall of Shame the sound is passable but the music is bad.  These are also records you can safely avoid.)

I’m guessing that very few people have ever heard this record sound good. The average copy is nothing special, but this one is a boring, lifeless mess, so save your money.

Rhino Records has really made a mockery of the analog medium. Rhino touts their releases as being pressed on “180 gram High Performance Vinyl.” However, if they are using performance to refer to sound quality, we have found the performance of their vinyl to be quite low, lower than the average copy one might stumble upon in the used record bins.

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Deep Purple – Mark I & II – Reviewed in 2009

More Deep Purple

More British Blues Rock

This is a Minty looking EMI Import Double LP. It’s a compilation with a single LP dedicated to each era of the band’s early history. As with any compilation some tracks sound better than others here but don’t let the German sourced tapes scare you. These sound like really high quality tapes, close to, if not the actual, master tapes.

The second LP features the most recognizable and probably best lineup (Mark II) the band ever had, with songs such as Black Knight, Speed King, Smoke on the Water and Highway star, to name but a few. 

Deep Purple – Machine Head

  • Two killer sides clocking in at Double Plus (A++) – the sound is HUGE, with real energy, presence and whomp – exceptionally quiet vinyl too!
  • Amazingly spacious and three-dimensional, no doubt the result of the album being recorded practically live in the studio
  • Their superbly talented engineer, Martin Barre, recorded the big, bold, rich, smooth sound of British Rock about as well as anyone ever did
  • 5 stars: “Machine Head was anything but a one-trick pony, introducing the bona fide classic opener “Highway Star,” which epitomized all of Deep Purple’s intensity and versatility while featuring perhaps the greatest soloing duel ever between guitarist Ritchie Blackmore and organist Jon Lord.”

When you get a Hot Stamper pressing like this one, Machine Head is a True Rock and Roll Demo Disc. Since our stereo is all about playing these kinds of records, and playing them at good loud levels as nature — and the artists — intended, we had a helluva time with Machine Head.

It had the kind of presence and energy that puts most copies of this album to shame. It’s also amazingly spacious, the result no doubt of it being recorded practically live in the studio. On the best copies, you can really hear the sound bouncing off the studio walls, just as you can on the best Zep, AC/DC and Bad Co. albums. You can just tell they are all playing this one live: it’s so relaxed and natural and REAL sounding. (more…)

Deep Purple / Who Do We Think We Are! – Our Shootout Winner from 2011

More Deep Purple

More British Blues Rock

This British Import Purple Records pressing has a GREAT side one, and AMAZING A+++ side two, and VERY QUIET VINYL throughout! I don’t think you could find a better sounding side two no matter what you did. The sound here is BIG, BOLD and LIVELY with real weight down low and excellent presence. It really JUMPS out of the speakers and fills up the room! Side one is very good as well, with all of the qualities described above. It doesn’t fully open up the way side two does, but it still slaughtered most of the copies we played it against.

The big hit song from this one was Woman From Tokyo and it sounds excellent on this copy — very natural with real texture to the guitars and lots of WHOMP down low. (more…)