- [Deep Purple have a new album out and a planned continuation of their The Long Goodbye tour. Whether that actually happens is anyone’s guess, but we’ll be honoring the occasion with a series of Deep Purple-related articles, both old and new.]Bootlegs have been held responsible for a lot of things over the years, and they’re probably guilty of a lot more. Mention them to Deep Purple bassist Roger Glover, however, and his response could almost be a tabloid headline – something along the lines of “Bootlegs Saved My Life.”
- Or at least, they changed it beyond all expectations.
“I could never understand our success.” Midway through Deep Purple’s 1998 American tour, Glover looked back over close to 30 years of Britain’s most enduring Heavy Metal institution and shrugged. “I could never understand why so many people bought our records, because they were so full of flaws.”
“So when we first started talking about a reunion in 1984, I didn’t know if I was in favor of it or not, if we should just let sleeping dogs lie. And then I started listening to bootlegs and to what we really were, and I came to reassess the whole thing.”
There are as many Deep Purple bootlegs as there are Deep Purple classics, with the 1998 tour doing as much to swell that canon as any other. Glover admits, however, that that not everybody in the band shares his enthusiasm for the things, with guitarist Steve Morse positively bristling every time such things are even mentioned.
“Steve is adamantly against them. He believes that when he’s doing a live performance, it is for the moment, and when he’s soaring away and he sees a little red light light of a video camera, he freezes up. Because he knows it’s going to be dissected later, and it takes away from his performance. His performance is one time only, it’s not to be pored over and dissected, and that’s why he resents it. And there’s the financial point of view – Steve is… how can I say this… financially very careful.”
“But I had a meeting with some bootleggers many years ago in Germany. We had a big discussion about bootlegs and they said ‘listen, bootleggers are not ripping you off. You’re not losing money because of bootlegs. The fact that other people are making money from your music is indisputable, but you’re not losing money – it’s not money out of your pocket. In fact, the people who buy these things have already bought your albums probably two or three times already‘”
“And this was a potent argument, and I sympathize with that. Besides, they presented me with something I’d not heard in years, which was a recording of us doing ‘In The Morning’ for a BBC session. It was a song that was written on the spur of the moment, just a blues, very fast, and it’s great. I love it. But it was never formally written and recorded, that’s the only version of it. And I said, ‘Wow, it’s so wonderful to hear this. I’d forgotten all about it.’”
"So it’s through bootlegs, or at least bootleggers, that things like that even exist.”
If you want to take things further, it’s through bootlegs that Deep Purple still exists. Back to Glover, pondering whether the should reform, and digging through some old vinyl to help the mental juices flow…
“Listening to bootlegs from 1971, 1972, and 1973, I realized what a dangerous band we were – how exciting it was not to know what was going to happen next. We walked a very thin line between chaos and order, and that was the magic. That was why people bought our records. I came from a pop band, and when you’re a pop band you learn a song and you play it the same way every night. And now there’s this band veering off and suddenly the solo’s in E when it should be… hey, what’s happening here? That’s the magic. And that’s what I set out to recapture.”
Fourteen years on from that initial reunion, with a new album, Abandon, proving Purple’s best in two decades, it would appear that he’s accomplished it.