At the risk of being labeled unpatriotic, it seems Europe has the right idea about a lot of things — one being universal health care, but that's a debate for another day.
No, where the Continent really has us Yanks beat is in its attitude toward music, and especially in its radio programming. Unlike in America, radio across the pond isn't ruled by Clear Channel, and therefore, it isn't so compartmentalized. Here, you've got your Top 40 station, your Classic Rock station, your Modern/Alternative rock 9or whatever they're calling it nowadays) station and your hip-hop station, etc.
Over there, radio stations play it all. There's none of this "one station for this, one station for that" kind of nonsense. Slowly, that mentality is killing music in this country, creating these fragmented gangs of music lovers that can't trespass on each other's turf without getting glares of suspicion from the arbiters of taste on every side.
In talking the other day to Roger Glover, bassist and a founding member of Deep Purple, you get the idea that Europe is a place where anything goes, where people are into all kinds of music and being a fan of Classic Rock doesn't mean you can't find something in common with the indie crowd.
For its part, Deep Purple is doing very well overseas, selling out various venues and striking a chord with the youth of different countries.
"It's been very good for us in Europe, and France especially," says Glover. "Germany's always been a stalwart supporter of Deep Purple, but France has come alive in the last couple of years. They really took to Rapture of the Deep (Purple's last studio album), and the audiences ... we just did a couple of months ago a big French tour, and we sold out everywhere, and the audiences were all around 20 or under, because in Europe, there's not quite the perception there is in the States. They don't have radio stations with categories, like rock stations or hip-hop stations ... or whatever. It's just music, so you don't get categorized quite so much, and I find that healthier."
So do I. And, if I had to make a diagnosis, I'd say Deep Purple is as healthy as its ever been. In May, the band released They All Came Down to Montreux: Deep Purple Live at Montreux 2006 (Eagle Rock Entertainment) as a 187-minute, two-DVD set (including a show at London's Hard Rock Cafe) and CD. Then, in late June, an HD-DVD version was released. Gorgeously shot, the DVD concert footage is a celebration of all things Deep Purple, with the band plowing through testosterone-fueled, proto-metal rockers like "Highway Star," "Space Truckin'" and, of course, "Smoke On The Water" with power and zeal. Guitarist Steve Morse, who's been with the band 15 years now, provides a variety of stunning, imaginative solos and heavy riffs, and Ian Gillan's vocal display raised pulses.
As everyone knows, Deep Purple and Montreux have a long history together. It was where the band's classic Machine Head album was recorded. The story of that album's creation will be published in an upcoming issue of Goldmine, so stay tuned.
If you're interested in the Live at Montreux release, head on over to www.eaglerockent.com for purchasing information.
The Purple is still on tour this summer. Remaining dates are listed below:
July 28 Montreal, QC Bell Centre
July 31 Boston, MA Bank Of America Pavilion
Aug. 2 Wallingford, CT Chevrolet Theater
Aug. 4 Atlantic City, NJ House of Blues
Aug. 7 New York, NY Radio City Music Hall
Aug. 9 Bethlehem, PA Musikfest