by Alun Thomas

After some delay I finally obtained a copy of Halford's ''Resurrection'' which has metal fans talking everywhere. To be honest, I couldn't be bothered buying it because other CD's took my fancy. But with nothing else happening, I picked it up, even though I had already heard most of it.

That could explain the delay. From the get go there has been something about ''Resurrection'' I could not get excited about. The choruses perhaps. Maybe the music. I don't know. But after repeated listenings I figured it out, the production. While Halford belts out the vocals in his classic style, he has fallen prey to producer Roy Z's familiarity. Roy Z is known as the man who produces Bruce Dickinson's solo albums and he is on hand here. So the more I listened it sounded like a Dickinson album with Halford singing. The musicians are different but at times, especially on ''Made In Hell,'' it sounded like an outtake from Dickinson's own ''Accident Of Birth'' and ''The Chemical Wedding.'' The whole vibe and sound, everything. But it's not all to do with the production. The bulk of the music is hardly startling and fresh, notably the final four tracks ''Twist,'' ''Temptation,'' ''Drive'' and ''Saviour -- '' all rather anonymous. ''Nightfall'' is by far the best song. It is reminiscent of classic Judas Priest, with a memorable chorus and some eighties sounding guitar work. ''Locked And Loaded'' and ''Silent Screams'' are worth a mention but the rest are average.

And when Dickinson himself shares guest vocals on ''The One You Love To Hate,'' I defy you not to think you are listening to ''Accident Of Birth.'' It's that close.

The final problem is that ''Resurrection'' did not move me. Any album which blows you away through music, melody or lyrics has succeeded. That is (for me) the key to great music. And Halford was missing that. Not once did anything make me move out of my seat or leave my jaw wide open. It left me COLD.

What we have on the other hand reverses everything I have just written. And this is Deep Purple's ''Days May Come And Days May Go: The California Rehearsals 1975.'' This new, previously unreleased CD full of rare material, has class stamped all over it. And it is just a rehearsal. Recorded when Tommy Bolin first joined after Ritchie Blackmore quit Purple, this show of force reinforces my belief that Mk 4 Purple was by far the best lineup, past and present. The spontaneous jams are full of passion and purpose, from each member of the group. The famed Gillan-Glover Mk 2 version never sounded this good. Mk 2 loyalists be damned.

Bolin's guitar playing revolutionized Purple's sound and in rehearsal he was on fire. From blues, hard rock to funk, he layed it down. His embryonic ''Dealer'' solo in the ''If You Love Me Woman'' jam did what Halford couldn't. It made me feel the power and moved me. I shook my head in amazement at what I heard.

And following this, the improvisational crunch of ''Dance To The Rock 'n' Roll'' hit me like a Who jam would. It is relentless in its fury, the colliding mixture of flailing drums, rock solid riffs and funky bass. It is something only the great can do. Adding this new gem to Mk 4's ''Come Taste The Band'' album and ''Live In California 1976'' and you have the best Purple music on offer from over 30 years. The promise of the rehearsal material was improved upon in studio and on stage.

On the live 1976 recording Purple tear through ''Love Child'' with such ragged destruction, I believe it to be the greatest live Purple I have ever heard. Not just that song but the whole thing. It is more raw than ''Made In Japan'' which is predictable in its execution. Because Mk 4 was so troubled it made them dangerous and unpredictable.

What ''Days May Come'' does is put a full stop on who was Purple's classic lineup. No more debate. Not for me. It shows up the later 80's Purple albums and especially some of their appalling 90's output, mainly ''The Battle Rages On'' and ''Abandon.'' The late 60s Mk 1 era is horribly dated meanwhile and only Mk 3's ''Stormbringer'' album comes quite close. The rehearsal tapes however are 25 years old and sound as fresh as they did back in 1975 -- no doubt. Purple Mk 4 is the best rock music has ever offered and ever will.

Uploaded to The Zephyr Online October 11, 2000

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