One of the most celebrated live rock albums in history made its big entrance on January 6, 1973. Made In Japan, the double live album recorded in the summer of 1972 during the first tour of Japan by Deep Purple, debuted on the UK chart. Its US debut followed on April 21.
The album featured only seven tracks across the four sides of the original vinyl release, four of them taped at their show at the Festival Hall in Osaka on August 16; one at the same venue the night before; and the other two at probably the best-known venue in those early days of Western bands exploring that market, Tokyo’s Budokan.
This was already Purple’s second live album, but a very different animal to their first, the 1969 recording of Jon Lord’s Concerto For Group and Orchestra. This time, chiefly at the request of their Japanese label, the idea was to create a record of the band’s powerful live show. It was also a chance to present an in concert version of the band’s anthem-in-the-making from the Machine Head album of only a few months earlier, “Smoke On The Water.”
Twenty minutes of ‘Space Truckin’’
Included on Made in Japan in live form are three more songs from Machine Head, which had been on the UK charts for 24 weeks after its April 1972 debut. The live set’s opening “Highway Star” was another new Purple favourite, while “Lazy,” a seven-minute track on Machine Head, extended to nearly 11 on the live record. The closer, taking up the whole of side four of the vinyl release, was “Space Truckin,’” which expanded from a four-minute original to an epic of nearly 20 minutes on Made In Japan.
Purple were on a hot streak in which both Machine Head and its predecessor Fireball had topped the British chart, but as often with live albums, there was less chart glory to be had this time. The album debuted in the UK that first week of 1973 at No.16, as a various artists compilation called Twenty All Time Hits of the 50s continued at No.1. In fact, the top four on that chart were all compilations. Only Slade gave the Top 10 a rock flavour with their Slayed? album.
Still cutting the mustard
“Made in Japan is Purple’s definitive metal monster, a spark-filled execution,” wrote Rolling Stone. “Deep Purple can still cut the mustard in concert.” No.16 proved to be the peak position for the Purple album, which nevertheless topped the charts in Germany, Austria and Canada. Its more modest UK performance was also in great contrast to its American fortunes. It climbed to No.6 there, going gold within two months and platinum in 1986. Purple had never been that high on the US album chart, and never have again.
Buy or stream the 2014 deluxe reissue of Made In Japan.