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Deep Purple: Phoenix Rising (Blu-ray Review)

Eagle Rock Entertainment has brought forth one of their latest music releases on the Blu-ray format.  This Blu-ray release is entitled Deep Purple: Phoenix Rising. This line-up would affectionately be called the Mark III line-up.  Coverdale – Hughes – Bolin – Paice – Lord.  Yep, who would have thought that the singer for Whitesnake would have started his career out with an already legendary band like Deep Purple?  It’s true.  This is a unique Blu-ray release in that it is more of a documentary on the Mark III line-up , but features very little in the way of performances.  It’s a hybrid of sorts.  How did it turn out?  Tickets please! 

Film

In a unique show of…uniqueness?  Eagle Rock has released Deep Purple: Phoenix Rising on Blu-ray which features a thirty minute set live from Budokan in 1975.  If my facts are correct, this would have been the last or one of the last shows before Deep Purple Mark III split (or merged) into Deep Purple Mark IV.

The first part of the program on this Blu-ray is thirty minutes of the Budokan set played live on December 15, 1975.  It is a five song set and consists of:

1. Burn

2. Love Child

3. Smoke On The Water

4. You Keep On Moving

5. Highway Star

This performance has never been released before.  It’s quite fitting for them to be remixed and released on Blu-ray high definition all these many years later.  It serves as a time machine.  The tunes are great and the band is great to watch live as they do their thing.  This, of course, is part one of a double whammy of what’s on the Deep Purple: Phoenix Rising Blu-ray.

After you have finished watching Deep Purple tear it up in Japan you can quickly bounce over to this full feature documentary entitled Gettin’ Tighter. This is an 80 minute long presentation with current interviews with former Deep Purple members Glenn Hughes and Jon Lord.  It’s also why I enjoy the rock n roll genre so much.  It’s a fascinating look at the excesses that go into being a rock star.  Sex, drugs, alcohol, more sex, more drugs, etc… This, unfortunately, always comes with a price as several members of the band found out.  Some barely escaped with their lives, and others did not.

Glenn Hughes and Jon Lord are a treat to watch and listen to as they tell the tales of their journey into the machine that is Deep Purple.  You will see footage of the band at several shows and venues that most bands that were famous at the time would have never gone to.  Deep Purple was truly a “world” band.  They were true globetrotting rocknrollas for sure.

Another unique aspect of this Blu-ray is that you can actually watch this program in reverse order.  Having watched the Budokan performance first then the documentary second, there are several insights that were revealed to me after the fact.  That is why I recommend that viewers watch the documentary FIRST and the Budokan performance second.  Glenn Hughes and Jon Lord let you in on what happened before they went onstage that fateful night in 1975.  It’s pretty trippy.

Video

Deep Purple: Phoenix Rising is presented in 1080p 16X9 (1.78:1) widescreen.  Considering this is a concert and documentary presentation, I have to give it the benefit of the doubt when grading the Blu-ray presentation.  The 30 minute concert was shot on film and does retain its grain.  It’s a bit on the heavy side, but this was the mid 70’s.  When we switch over to the documentary portion of the show.  Glen Hughes and Jon Lord are interviewed in a contemporary setting and the video looks great.  It is mixed in with stock and archival footage almost forty years old, so take that with light grain of sand.  Colors do remain bold and loud.  The 70’s were quite garish and colorful.  The Blu-ray has no trouble handling the color wheel.  

Audio 

Deep Purple: Phoenix Rising is presented in DTS-HD MA 5.1 (for the concert) and DTS-HD MA 2.0 for the documentary.  This one is a bit perplexing.  The concert is full lossless, but I could only hear the bass.  I never felt it, though.  In replaying some of songs the subwoofer (LFE) never turned on during the performance.  This could be considered a 5.0 mix, if I were to get technical.  The music mix is spot on and the instruments never overlap or get sloppy.  There’s a perfect balance onstage.  The documentary is presented in lossless 2.0.  It’s a pretty good sound documentary.  Even the archival material sounds great in this lower 2.0 mix.  Considering there is no LFE for the main show, and the doc is 2.0, I give the audio a semi-neutral 3-star.  It’s above average.   

Special Features 

Deep Purple: Phoenix Rising contains many special features worthy of note.  In fact, if one were to REALLY get technical, you could consider the documentary a special feature unto itself.  For all intents and purposes, we won’t do that here.  We’ll just grade the plethora of other features that are separate from the two main programs.

  • Audio Extra: The Official Soundtrack and More!
  • Rare Live Tracks From MKIV History – Digitally Remastered in 2011
  • 1. Burn (Long Beach) 2. Gettin’ Tighter (Japan) 3. Love Child (Japan) 4. Smoke On The Water (Japan)/Georgia On My Mind (Japam) 5. Lazy (Long Beach) 6. Homeward Strut (Long Beach) 7. You Keep On Moving (Japan) 8. Stormbringer (Long Beach
  • Jakarta, December 1975 – Interview with Jon Lord & Glenn Hughes
  • Come Taste The Band – Electronic Press Kit

 

Final Thoughts

Deep Purple: Phoenix Rising may or may not be a turn off for the casual fan, because it doesn’t so much focus on the actual music of the Mark III-Mark VI line-up as it focuses on the events that happened around that time period.  I thought it was a neat little compilation, and know that the serious Deep Purple fan will gravitate towards this release.  If you do, I can say that you will definitely be entertained.

 

Order Deep Purple: Phoenix Rising on Blu-ray!

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Gerard Iribe is a writer/reviewer for Why So Blu?. He has also reviewed for other sites like DVD Talk, Project-Blu, and CHUD, but Why So Blu? is where the heart is. You can follow his incoherency on Twitter: @giribe

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