by John David Kalodner (submitted by Art Connor)

John Kalodner is one of the most famous record label A&R gurus and is represented by a wealth of information online. Before the fame he started as a freelance writer and photographer for The Philadelphia Inquirer. By 1976 he had his career in gear with Atlantic Records but continued to write for The Philadelphia Inquirer.

The 1976 pop concert season got off to an auspicious start Sunday evening at the Spectrum as one of the mainstays of the “heavy metal” rock genre, Deep Purple, turned in a high-energy set that quickly warmed the chill Philadelphia night.

While most rock fans are aware of Deep Purple’s mass appeal, few realize that the group is one of music’s biggest album sellers, having sold more than 12 million albums in 1972 alone. To the worldwide rock audience the group ranks in the class of Led Zeppelin, the Rolling Stones, and Emerson, Lake and Palmer as superstars of concert gates and record sales.

Using their 1968 AM hit “Hush” as a notable starting point, the group metamorphosized artistically and in personnel until coming to rest with the introduction of the heavy metal rock format, that was later to become the fare of many groups seeking success.

With the recent departure of a founding member, guitarist Ritchie Blackmore, only keyboardist Jon Lord and drummer Ian Paice remain of the original Purple crew. Glenn Hughes on bass, Tommy Bolin on guitar and David Coverdale as lead vocalist round out Deep Purple’s 1976 lineup.

In their Spectrum show the band stuck to basics, using the raw power of pounding instrumentals and raging vocals to communicate their energy. Purple provides no-nonsense rock ‘n’ roll, the kind that may be objectionable to the delicate ear, but is a sure soma to the pop masses. Devoid of gimmicks, they relied upon the 120-decibel intensity of material such as “Burn,” “Love Child“ and “Smoke On the Water” to carry their set.

Within the body of the powerful rock emerged a strange contrast between the savage rhythm line of drummer Paice and bassist Hughes, and the intricate licks of keyboardist Lord and guitarist Bolin. David Coverdale’s vocals did the needed job of mixing the two influences into a cohesive mass of unadulterated heavy metal music.

Purple’s only problem seemed to lie in their excessive volume, an unnecessary indulgence, at times distorting what was otherwise a well executed performance.

Opening the show was the up-and-coming British group Nazareth. After six albums and numerous tours, they are finally finding a measure of success with their fast-rising AM single “Love Hurts” and an opening berth on Deep Purple’s massive American tour.

Unfortunately, on stage, Nazareth still spins in an identity crisis. Unlike on record, where the group has combined melodic strains with a base of British rock, their live performance founders as they hack their way through with a rock ‘n’ roll roar.

Adequately talented, Nazareth must give up the security of mindless “boogie” music and take a stand playing music with the agility and spontaneity they have captured on vinyl.