‘Last Concert in Japan’ only saw a release due to the death of guitarist Tommy Bolin who died in December of 1976. The album was released shortly after in March of 1977 in Japan. The record company was in a rush to capitalize on his death is all I can think why this was released. The band was done, all parties had moved on and the record company thought it would be an easy cash grab. Now I have no proof, this is pure speculation but it is what record companies do.
This album captures the Mark IV line-ups last show in Japan as the title says at the Budokan Hall which I believe they set a record for attendance at that time. The release is not a full show and it was streamlined down to fit on only one LP.
There are a lot of problems with this album. First off, the mix. It is pretty crappy as the release was done in such a hurry that the master tracking really suffered and let me tell you it shows. And if that wasn’t enough, let me just say the guitar playing is less then stellar and I believe Jon Lord was used a lot more in places that there should have been more guitar. The reason being is Tommy Bolin had been doing drugs quite heavily the night before and according to Glenn Hughes, he feel asleep on his arm for 8 hours and couldn’t play. And based on what I hear, I believe he might be telling the truth.
The album opens with “Burn” and this is one where there is a lot of Jon Lord on keyboards then there was of Bolin on guitar. It is a great opener as always and David is screaming away like normal and Glenn Hughes throws in some screams for good measure. And don’t forget Ian on drums as he was killing it as usual. It is not the best version of the song, but compared to a lot on the album it is a pretty good version.
“Love Child” was up next and is another good song but mainly for the great keyboard solo by Jon Lord (which he has on the next track as well). To have this one and “You Keep Moving On” up afterwards you get two great songs from the album ‘Come Taste the Band’ in a row and a good representation from that album. Glad they included these songs. David sounds really good on these songs, but I have to ask what is up the his screaming at the end of “Love Child”…I think he might still do that today.
The biggest disappointment on this side is the song “Wild Dogs” which is sung by Tommy Bolin. It is a song Tommy wrote with John Tesar and is off his solo album ‘Teaser’. While I do like the studio version of this song, the live version is really bad. Tommy doesn’t sing it well at all and sounds awful. Maybe the drugs are causing the problem or not, but this song should not have been included.
The second side isn’t really any better. You do get “Lady Luck” to open which is really great. David is in control and singing his heart out and is the best thing on this side. Next up is the Deep Purple classic “Smoke on the Water” which is what I wanted to hear. I wanted to hear David do some classic Purple. But be careful what you wish for as this was dreadful. Not for David, just the lackluster guitar sound. Bolin had the riff, but it was not the riff sound you remember. It was flat and boring. No goosebumps. David is good and so is Glenn Hughes, but let’s be honest…this is Ian Gillan’s song and no one can match him.
The last Mark III song done is “Soldier of Fortune” and this song’s magic is lost live, at least for me. It is a 3 minute song stripped down to 2 minutes and as a result, it just lacking on all fronts. Maybe it’s the mix, but the music is not good on this one.
The biggest disappoint on this side is “Woman From Tokyo”. I thought I was going to get the song…NO!!! What you get is a keyboard Jam with Jon Lord which I would normally love, but this was bloody awful. You do get a David scream and Ian pounding on the drums for a brief few seconds, but that was it. No vocals, no real song.
They end the set with “Highway Star” another classic Purple song. Now David’s song introductions were lacking throughout the album and with this song as well. I am glad to know his crowd interaction got better with age. David sounded good vocally, but I wasn’t thrilled with Glenn’s vocal inputs. They were bad as he was screaming more than singing. Outside of that, it was a pretty good song and great way to end the show.
I wasn’t looking forward to this album as I knew ahead of time that this wasn’t a good one and having to listen to it several times for this review, it was really difficult to make it through it. I powered through it and sadly still hated it even after several spins. I would give it a 2.0 out of 5.0 Stars as it is a combination of many bad things. I have heard the remastered release is much better with the full concert and if that is the case, get that one. Do not bother with this one.
Thanks for stopping by. Let me know what you think and I hope you come back again for the next one in the series.
Up next…David Coverdale – ‘Northwinds’.
The David Coverdale Series:
- Deep Purple – Burn
- Deep Purple – Stormbringer
- Deep Purple – Come Taste the Band
- Deep Purple – Made in Europe
- David Coverdale – Whitesnake
- Deep Purple – Last Concert in Japan
Other David Coverdale Albums reviewed – (Box Sets and Bootlegs):