Getting the old gang back together after more than decade to record a studio album was one thing for Deep Purple. The true test of the Mark II edition’s newfound musical camaraderie would be found on the concert trail.
Perfect Strangers: Live — a CD/DVD release due October 15, 2013 from Eagle Rock — charts the improbable tour that saw the reunion of five members thought to have been permanantly scattered about. (Ian Gillan was in Black Sabbath, Ritchie Blackmore and Roger Glover were in Rainbow, Ian Paice was with Gary Moore and Jon Lord had been part of Whitesnake.) The reunion album itself didn’t garner much better critical reaction than had their last, 1973′s Who Do We Think We Are. But that lengthy layover for this classic-era lineup, and the fact that Deep Purple had been silent all together since 1975′s Come Taste the Band with the late Tommy Bolin, guaranteed huge gates out on the road.
There were old songs to relearn, and new songs to polish up. Happily, Perfect Strangers had been made very much in the style and substance of their best-known original tracks — so the classic Blackmore-Lord entanglements of “Nobody’s Home,” the full-on attack of “Gypsy’s Kiss,” the thunderously galloping title track, the randy “Knocking at Your Back Door,” and the organ-propelled “Under the Sun” fit in seamlessly with expected gems like “Highway Star” and “Smoke on the Water.”
Perfect Strangers: Live illustrates how quickly the Mark II lineup could pick up right where it left off, even if (alas) this reunion would only last through 1987′s The House of Blue Light. From Blackmore’s winking insertion of “Waltzing Matilda” into “Strange Kind of Woman” to the band’s flinty trips through deeper cuts like “Lazy” from 1972′s Machine Head and both sides of its 1970 single “Black Night/Speed King,” this set makes the case all of again for the best of Deep Purple’s many, many incarnations.