In 1973 when I bought my first stereo system and subsequently began collecting albums, for reasons that today escapes me, I would write my name on the back cover and number them. Why number them? Why do fifteen-year-old kids do anything? I’m not sure if I had planned some type of rudimentary filing system, or was perhaps attempting to keep track of how many albums I had, but number them I did. Deep Purple, Made in Japan was number 21.
Almost immediately “Japan” became one of my favorite albums. With only 21 albums at the time, that was not hard to accomplish. I clearly remember jumping around my bedroom furiously playing the air guitar and swinging my head back and forth, long hair and all, like I was playing the ax along side Ritchie Blackmore that night in Osaka, Japan.
What is not so clear is which had the more impressive sonic impact at the time – the album or my Father thundering down the hall to tell me what he told me almost every day – “TURN THAT THING DOWN!”
Just recently, when I received yet another of the many emails sent from HD Tracks, I was quite surprised to find a remastered version of, yes, Deep Purple, Made in Japan. Immediately a smile washed over my face because, despite not having listened to this album in countless years, I found myself watching the progress bar on the 96 / 24 download.
“Japan” was originally recorded over three nights in August 1972 in both Osaka and Tokyo, Japan. Originally, it was not intended to be distributed outside Japan and in December 1972 was released in that market. In April 1973, due in part to copies continuing to be imported, it became available in the US and “good ole” number 21 found it’s way into my burgeoning record collection. In 2012, Rolling Stone magazine conducted a poll that ranked “Made In Japan” the sixth greatest live album of all time.
Deep Purple, along with Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin were among the most formidable heavy metal rock and roll bands of the day. Sometimes called the “unholy trinity of British hard rock and heavy metal,” these three bands sold out concerts anywhere in the world they performed – including my bedroom.
Eventually, my tastes in music changed and the heavy metal genre faded from my memory just like the numbering system I used on my albums. Soon enough, jazz became my preferred hot ticket and remains so today. Every so often, however, I feel inclined to procure certain music from my past. I tell myself I’m making an attempt to broaden my musical horizons, even if it is with a forty two year old record. Or maybe, I tell myself, I’m recapturing my youth. Regardless of whichever excuse I’m peddling to myself, I still had a HUGE amount of fun listening to this album. Smoke On The Water and let’s not forget the 19:54 version of “Space Truckin’” – they all brought back a treasure trove of fun, enjoyable memories. It may well be many years before I have a second listen, or maybe one will come tomorrow – either way, this was a great thing to do.
Later in the day I downloaded “Japan” I went to the local record store. As I was looking through the LP’s I found them, Deep Purple, right between Decemberists and Deerhoof. About seven albums all together, “Japan” not among them, and all selling for a minimum of $34.99. Who said record sales were dead?
Nostalgia in our music collections is, in my estimation, a good thing. The music of our youth enjoyed in modern times endears a feeling of simplicity, a reminder of a time when the pressures and responsibilities of adulthood had yet exerted a firm grasp on our lives. While my hair is not long enough to shake any more, the air guitar is certainly not a sensible thing to do, and my Dad is no longer here to yell at me about volume levels, I must say that after about forty years I had a perfectly wonderful time listening to this album.
If I’m not mistaken, I have three or four Deep Purple albums, “Japan” among them. Maybe it would be wise to get out the ultra sonic record cleaner, get them all nice and clean, give them a spin, and see if I can stir up any more magic. Who knows, maybe some more timeless memories might be found.