The studio recordings of Deep Purple: Part Three 1974/5 Mark III/IV

  Burn (1974)

If you go back far enough into the history of Deep Purple you will discover that the whole process was started off by former Searchers drummer Chris Curtis. His idea was to have a musical roundabout consisting of himself, Jon Lord and an un-named bass player, and then have other musicians jumping on and off as and when he/they felt like it. Fortunately for us all Tony Edwards (Purple’s manager) realised Curtis had lost the plot and entrusted Jon Lord with the task of forming the band.

It is somewhat ironic then that by the time 1973 came around DP were actually beginning to resemble that idea for a musical roundabout as once again it was all change in the vocalist and bass player departments. Gillan stepped from the roundabout of his own free will, although if we’re truthful he probably expected them to try harder to talk him out of it and Glover was given one almighty shove courtesy of the man in black. The rights and wrongs of this decision have been discussed many times over the years and there are still those who refuse to accept this line up and the one that followed as proper DP. That is a great shame and those who refuse to acknowledge the Coverdale era DP are missing out on some great music. (Trust me there are some people around and I know of at least one who has still steadfastly refused to listen to this or any of the post #2 albums). Who knows what kind of a follow up to Who Do We Think We Are #2 would have made if they’d have been given the opportunity. Would it have been as good as Burn – probably. Would it have been better than Burn – probably not.

Before we get sidetracked lets get back to the roundabout. The bass player section was quickly filled by Glenn Hughes from Trapeze who initially wanted to do the lead vocals as well. This idea was not acceptable to Blackmore so it was quickly thwarted and the quest began to find a front man. Depending on who you talk to and what you read just about everyone was in the frame at one point but the man who was the red hot favourite was Paul Rodgers from Free.(It is probably worth pointing out here that Paul Rodgers is my all time favourite singer without question and when I think about how close he came to joining my favourite group it still sends me on wild dreams of wonder! I would still to this day love to hear Blackmore and Rodgers make an album together.) I don’t believe they ever expected Rodgers to turn them down and it was probably the shock that made them take the risk they did. And it shouldn’t be underestimated what a huge risk it was at the time for a band of the stature of DP to take on a complete unknown to replace Ian Gillan. Whatever you think about the decision to end #2 you have to admit that Blackmore, Lord and Paice had one hell of a lot of bottle (and faith in their own ability)to go down the route they did – replacing arguably the best frontman in rock at the time with a northern boutique salesman who’d never even released a commercially available record. I am sure that despite all that has happened since David Coverdale realises what a huge debt of gratitude he owes them and the DP management. In quiet reflective moments (if he ever has them) he probably still doesn’t believe it himself.

So, history lesson over, on to the album. As has been well documented elsewhere the album does have a much more bluesy feel to it than the #2 albums. It surprises me however that more people don’t make the Rodgers connection. This album sounds in places like a heavy Free/Bad Company album. Imagine Free or Bad Company with a Hammond and Blackmore on guitar. This album came out in the same year as the first Bad Company album, a year after the final Free album Heartbreaker. Listen to the three albums and then hand on heart tell me you can’t imagine Paul Rodgers singing Burn, Might Just Take Your Life, Sail Away and above all Mistreated which is in many ways quite similar to the Free track Heartbreaker. I firmly belive that when Blackmore came up with the original ideas for these songs he did so expecting Rodgers to be doing the vocals.

Track by track then , the album opener Burn is a wonderful masterpiece of British rock which was also to become the new live set opener. It is hard to believe that this is coming from what is in effect a new band. Blackmore’s guitar and Lord’s keyboard work are superb and it is also hard to believe that Coverdale was so inexperienced at the time. Hughes’ has just enough vocal input into this song for my liking. On other tracks I think he does too much (a situation which would worsen on the follow up). Much has been made of the influence of George Gershwins’ Fascinating Rhythm which, accident or not, is no bad thing. For some reason Coverdales’ vocal delivery here puts me in mind of Scott Walkers’ Seventh Seal from Scott 4. I don’t know why, the songs are not really similar …… must be a singer thing! What follows next is something of a rarity, a DP track without a guitar solo. Jon Lord’s Hammond taking the lead on the bluesy Might Just Take Your Life which Coverdale claimed at the time was based on Chest Fever by The Band. Lay Down Stay Down is an out and out rocker with Lord on piano. This was actually the first track completed so is really the starting point of Coverdale’s professional career. Hughes takes too much of the vocal in my opinion but Blackmore plays a superb lengthy blues type solo. Next up Sail Away a soulful Free type song which has always been a personal favourite of mine. Again I would have preferred a solo vocal from Coverdale. Blackmore actually plays a little slide guitar on this during the fade out solo ….. brilliant. You Fool No One kicked off side 2 in the original vinyl days and it becomes clear quite quickly that this is the sort of DP song that would be extended to great lengths in a live setting. Another classic DP track that was more than just a song – it was a piece of music. What’s Goin’ On Here shows a continuation from #2  to  #3 of the humerous lyric and is a basic rock n roll blues stomp, albeit a good one. Mistreated is undoubtedly the highlight of the whole album though and really needs nothing to be said about it other than go and listen to it …… right now, this minute!! A200 is a surprise ending as you wouldn’t think a band with two vocalists would need to record an instrumental on a 8 track album. That being said it is a reasonable track with a catchy riff. Still the albums lowlight though.

So there you have it, the first #3 album, the birth of an ego and rock god in David Coverdale. A brave new world or the beginning of the end. All Purple fans have their own opinion. For me its a 5 star classic, not quite as good as Machine Head or In Rock but better than all the others before or after. Number 3 on the Purple list, number 3 on the Coverdale list, number 18 on the all time list. Burn with Deep Purple!

  Stormbringer (1974)
It is sometimes hard to believe that this album was released only seven months after the #3 debut Burn. For this album is in many ways just as different from Burn as that album was from Who Do We Think We Are. Before we go any further let me say that I think this is a very very good album indeed. That is a personal opinion as is my rating and in this review I will raise some other issues.

First of all it is not really clear why the band chose to record again so quickly, they had not released two studio albums in the same year since the #1 days when that was the norm. The norm in the 70’s was very much of an album a year. There can only be two possible explainations – contractual obligation, which considering by this time they had their own Purple label is doubtful – or a desire to quickly bed in the new boys and get some fresh material for the live set. The second seems the most likely option but given the fact that the live set had stayed pretty much the same from late 71 until Gillan and Glover’s departure in the summer of 73 rapid changes of live set had never been something they had worried about before. Whatever the reasons, and whatever your feelings about this album are it would appear in retrospect to have been a mistake. One of the main differences between this album and Burn is the performance of Ritchie Blackmore. It is quite clear that at times on this album he is totally disinterested and is quite happy to let others take the lead. That is not the norm for the man in black. Another difference with Stormbringer is the length of the songs – they are far shorter than on previous albums and there are far fewer instrumental passages then normal. The other,and some will say main difference was the increasing influence and ego of one Glenn Hughes. Nobody is going to doubt Glenn Hughes ability, but who hypnotized him into thinking he was Stevie Wonder. He sang and wrote perfectly good rock songs with just enough funk and soul in them when in Trapeze. His vocal contribution to Burn wasn’t overly irritating but some of the #3 live shows are unlistenable in parts due to his constant squealing and at times on this album you just wish he would leave it to Coverdale. Blackmore quite clearly wasn’t impressed either and jumped ship soon after.

So what about the tracks then. Stormbringer I believe can be almost split in two. The title track, Lady Double Dealer, The Gypsy and Soldier Of Fortune wouldn’t have been overly out of place on Burn. The others wouldn’t have been out of place on Come Taste The Band. It is surely no coincidence that the first four were the ones that got into the live set.

Reading back what I have written so far it sounds at times as though I am not overly fond of this album. That couldn’t be further from the truth, there was a time when this was my most played DP album. The secret is (as with Come Taste The Band) not to think of it as a Deep Purple album. Just think of it as a very very good album made by a group of elite musicians who just happened to have been in Deep Purple.

  Come Taste The Band (1975)
The roundabout that was 1970s Deep Purple made one more stop, and subsequently one more revolution when Ritchie Blackmore decided the new funky sound was not the way and went off to record a solo single ‘Black Sheep of the Family’ with Elf. A project which eventually turned into Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow.

Enter one Tommy Bolin ……….. quite possibly the most under-rated guitarist ever, certainly in the UK where he was given a torrid time.

I may as well come clean here before we go any further and make an admission or two. This is the first DP album I ever bought and in truth is possibly the first proper album I ever purchased which puts it at the top of a rather long list.

For that reason I have a rather special affection for it and will not hear a word said against it. Although I now own it on CD, if I take my vinyl version out of the rack the cover has its own smell that is etched in my memory. It will be there until the day I die and I know that many of you reading this will know exactly what I mean.

So on to the album then. The first thing to do if you want to listen to this album objectively is to forget all about the Gillan/Glover version of DP and to a certain extent the initial Mark 3 (Burn) sound. As I have said in an earlier review the previous album ‘Stormbringer’ started to move the DP sound away from rock and towards a more funky groove. What this album does is take the differing styles and marry them together. Something its predecessor never did. Blackmore had no interest in the funk/jazz type things Glenn Hughes and to a certain extent Coverdale were putting forward so just ignored them and left the rest of the band to it. That is why you could split ‘Stormbringer into’ two mini albums. The Blackmore half (Stormbringer/Lady Double Dealer/ Soldier Of Fortune/The Gypsy) ………. and the funky half (the rest).

With this album though, there is no such split. Bolin is as perfectly at home on the opening rock tracks Comin’ Home and Lady Luck as he is on the following full blown funk of Gettin’ Tighter. In fact this whole album showcases what an extraordinary talent Bolin had. Replacing Blackmore in DP in 1975 was a thankless task and there are many who still haven’t given this album the proper listening it deserves but his work throughout is never less than superb. He even has a vocal part in Dealer (a song which he would have done well to heed the advice of in retrospect). I Need Love is almost a precurser to Whitesnake and features yet more fantastic guitar work from Bolin. Drifter is as rocky as any Purple track ever was and the riff of Love Child is in some ways reminicent of Iron Man by Black Sabbath. This Time Around/Owed To G(ershswin) sees Jon Lord performing as well as on any Purple track and is quite possibly Glenn Hughes best ever contribution to the band. Bolin again is perfection. The closing ‘You Keep On Moving’ shows just how good the Coverdale/Hughes vocal combo could have been if it had been kept in check. The live shows from this line-up sometimes descend into meaningless noise thanks to Hughes’ incessant squealing and vocal acrobatics but thankfully on this studio recording he was kept very much in check and that has increased his overall contribution. (Less is definately more Mr Hughes ….. when will you ever learn).

There is no point me denying that I view this album through rose tinted glasses but despite the fact that it was recorded under the name of one of the biggest bands of all time it is something of a lost classic. Many purple fans disregard it …….. as as bigger fan of Purple as any I say don’t. You are depriving yourself of a musical masterpiece if you ignore this album . It doesn’t have to be Blackmore or Bolin in the same way as it doesn’t have to be Gillan or Coverdale. It can be Blackmore and Bolin, Gillan and Coverdale. They all contributed to the sound that was DP and you don’t have to disregard one to be a fan of the other.

This album sits just outside the Top 20 in my best albums of all time chart ………. if it was a sentimental favourite album chart it would be at #1.

(All originally published on RYM in January, July and November 2007)

About Martin Leedham

Music critic, Horse Racing Tipster, Hapless Dreamer, Defender of the Underdog
This entry was posted in Album Reviews, Classic Rock, Deep Purple, Music, Music Reviews, Rock, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to The studio recordings of Deep Purple: Part Three 1974/5 Mark III/IV

  1. Kev Moore says:

    Wow, great reviewing, but clearly you have a bee in your bonnet about Glenn! I personally think history has proved that he stands head and shoulders as a vocalist above Coverdale (although I loved their work together). His live work in that era was almost certainly tainted by his copious intake of exotic substances, though at least he made it out alive. I think his, and Bolin’s contributions (tragically short though they were) prevented Deep Purple from being a lumbering musical dinosaur, and gave them a freedom and edginess so lacking in many of their contemporaries. He does sound like Stevie Wonder – I used to play “this time around” to students when I gave a few talks in schools asking who was singing, and they all said Stevie! 🙂

  2. Thanks Kev, I agree entirely with your comments about Glenn and his and Tommy’s contribution to Purple. I don’t have a bee in my bonnet as such about Glenn but if I’m honest we did have a little disagreement many years ago about his attitude towards Deep Purple. Bizarrely it resulted in his manager offering me a job as his ‘minder’ for want of a better word. I had to decline and thankfully Glenn is in a far better place now than he was then. The Black Country Communion album bears this out in my mind and also proves the point that when he sticks to singing rather than trying to display every range and note he can hit (vocal acrobatics, as I call it) on every track he is far better. Having said that I love the vocal acrobatics of his ‘Play Me Out ‘ album but maybe that just proves I’m a contadictory old so and so who doesn’t really know what he’s on about !!

  3. kevmoore says:

    I’ll have to admit I’m a little biased where Glenn’s concerned – he was a huge influence on me, and my subsequent and ongoing 30-odd year career as a pro vocalist/bass player. The Burn album, listened to by a young 16 year-old me, who’d been a drummer in bands for 6 years, convinced me on hearing Glenn’s voice and bass playing that that was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life, and I’m still doing it!

    You and I seem to share a similar taste in vocalists, Paul Rogers, and of course, Jess, who I started the blog about some years back.

    In a business littered with casualties, it’s great to see Glenn emerge from the wreckage performing some of the best rock in years. Really enjoying your blog, I’ll be sure to stop by more often!

  4. Thanks again Kev. Come Taste The Band was my introduction to Deep Purple and at that time the world was very anti non #2 Purple or at least it seemed that way to me. I was forever championing the cause of Bolin, Hughes and Coverdale. I remember ordering the Tommy Bolin and Trapeze albums from the record department of Boots the Chemist and collecting them in my lunch break from school !! Its amazing to think back now that Boots had a record department and also that they were still available and not deleted (this was 1979). Play Me Out was a lot harder to come by but I eventually managed it. I used to live down the road from Mel Galley and was delighted for him when he got a bit of recognition in Whitesnake. Medusa is one of my favourite albums and is due for review shortly. I just prefer Glenn when he sings like he did on the Trapeze albums ……. which I think he has done on the BCC album. I also really enjoyed the First Underground Nuclear Kitchen album but if I’m honest some of the other albums like Addiction and Feel didn’t do a lot for me ……. maybe it is time to re evaluate them.

    I’ve finally put two and two together and figured out you were responsible for the Jess blog. I read it some months ago and intended to comment as everyone seems to have missed the connection with Purple but with one thing and another I just never got around to it. I’m hoping some of the stuff I haven’t got is going to get a re release at some point as there seems to be a couple of things I’m missing from the Jess catalogue. I’ll investigate your blog further as it would be good to hear some of your music.

  5. kevmoore says:

    You can imagine my delight as I “retro-discovered” Trapeze, who are probably still my favourite band. I had been corresponding a little with Mel before he died, and had told him how excited I was to be going over to see his comeback shows in the Midlands, sadly events were to overtake him and they never took place. It was also great to finally meet Glenn and tell him what an important role he played in my musical journey. There’s a track on my old band’s (Tubeless Heart) album called ‘The Pimp” that is totally influenced by the syncopated rock funk of Trapeze, it wouldn’t exist without them. I, too loved “come taste the band’. a criminally underrated album in my opinion. The new Kevin Shirley remix version is, to my mind, absolutely stunning and just shows what a treasure this is. In my lifetime, there was Joplin, Lennon, Hendrix, but the death that touched me most was Tommy Bolin’s. The guy was a great, great talent, and despite awesome work with Mouzon and Cobham, had yet to reach his potential. Despite a reputation for always being ‘the bridesmaid and never the bride’, replacing Blackmore and Joe Walsh (though actually Dom Trojano) it’s clear when he joined a band, his influence was massive. His authority is stamped all over his James Gang releases, and Come taste the band. I play his solo albums religiously, and I never tire of them. It’s interesting to hear your take on Glenn. I think that’s why he’s never really come to the fore of public consciousness as a solo artist. His diversity (a quality I admire) is what divides his fan base. I think Feel is one of his best album’s for example, though I acknowledge F.U.N.K. comes close to Trapeze-era Glenn. But the chance to shine in a band again, such as BCC, may well give us the best of him.

    • Nothing to disagree with there either !! The Trapeze albums are due for review soon as they both feature high on my all time album chart. Medusa, just being my favourite. Stangely I was just chatting to one of my Canadian friends on Facebook about Domenic Troiano the other day. Another great guitarist sadly no longer with us.

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