This is one in an ongoing series of thoughtfully compiled and well-annotated collections released in conjunction with the Deep Purple Appreciation Society: a scorching presentation of two concerts recorded for the BBC by Purple Mark II. Guitarist Ritchie Blackmore
is at the top of his game on disc one, recorded in 1970, unleashing some of his most stunning playing, especially on the extended instrumental "Wring that Neck." He's intense and unfettered, but always in control, through blindingly fast passages and quiet sections as well. Jon Lord
on organ gets in some good soloing too, especially on "Mandrake Root." The 1972 concert on disc two, on the other hand, is more a showcase for the whole band as a band, and it's excellent. Recorded just before the release of Machine Head
, it features most of that album's songs, including the only known live versions of "Maybe I'm a Leo" and "Never Before," and finishes by rocking the house with a cover of Little Richard
's "Lucille." The original version of this album was released in 1980; this upgrade features two extra tracks and improved sound. Even though they contain many of the same songs, In Concert makes an excellent companion to Purple's classic live album Made in Japan
(which has also been upgraded by EMI) -- and not just for collectors.