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Saturday, 20 September 2014

THE OTHER DEEP PURPLE:

Deep Purple Mark III
Lets get it out of the way, Deep Purple Mk2, Gillan, Blackmore, Lord, Paice and Glover, the most iconic line up in the bands illustrious history.  Smoke On The Water, Black Night, In Rock, Machine Head, Made In Japan, all legendary titles that continue to resonate around the world.  Their standing as one of the most influential bands of all time will never be challenged.
But in 1973, after a continuous cycle of album - tour - album - tour, the band faced an uncertain future.  Ian Gillan quit amid tension with Blackmore, and Roger Glover was fired, for reasons he is bemused about to this day.  However, the band didn't hang around and quickly appointed Trapeze bassist Glenn Hughes and an unknown vocalist from Yorkshire, David Coverdale. Mk3 was formed.
Two albums were recorded Burn and Stormbringer.  But where do these albums stand in Purple's history ?  Do they deserve to be mentioned in the same breath as the Mk2 classics.
The Burn album came first, and on the opening title track, Coverdale and Hughes introduce themselves with a combined vocal masterclass.  This explosive fast paced gem, played almost like a statement, that the band weren't going to go through the motions.  It  more than matches Highway Star for an opening track impact.  Blackmore's arresting riff is constantly in your face and Ian Paice's drumming is as impeccable as always.
Lead off single Might Just Take Your Life goes down a more melodic route,but at the same time, retains a lot of Purple's trademarks with organist Jon Lord closing the song with a virtuoso solo. As with virtually all the album, Coverdale and Hughes trade lead vocals, and they combine brilliantly on the suggestive and gritty Lay Down, Stay Down, while Sail Away and You Fool No One send the album down a uncharacteristically funk route.
However, they are back on familiar ground with a bit of bar room boogie with  What's Goin' On Here, while penultimate track, Mistreated has Coverdale baring his soul with a perfectly executed blues vocal.  Blackmore's genial expressive solo is quite simply majestic.
In comparison to Burn, the Stormbringer album was a bit of a let down.They were slowly losing touch with their hard rock sound, and drifting even further down a more blues/funk path.As with Burn, the title track is the standout moment.  Blackmore's hovering guitar riff and the perfectly knitted verses fuse toward a thunderous chorus.  Love Don't Mean A Thing, with it's funk vibe tries it's best but doesn't really go anywhere. It doesn't really improve a great deal after that, bar Lady Double Dealer and High Ball Shooter, these are nailed on proper Purple rockers.
Holy Man, Hold On and You Can't Do It Right are decent, but a tad lethargic for a band of Purple's pedigree.  Haunting ballad Soldier Of Fortune, ends the album on a high note, for what is a disappointingly lacklustre collection.  It's standing alongside Purple's classic albums, is weak I'm afraid, but it's predecessor Burn, deserves to rub shoulders with heavyweights Machine Head and In Rock.  Though not as memorable, it far eclipses the likes of the Fireball and Who Do We Think We Are albums.
And if your starting your Deep Purple collection, and like a bit of funk, soul and blues blended with your rock, you'll probably get more out of Stormbringer than I did.