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Deep Purple - Come Taste The Band CD (album) cover

COME TASTE THE BAND

Deep Purple

 

Proto-Prog

3.14 | 362 ratings

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Chicapah
Prog Reviewer
1 stars By the time the weary Deep Purple released this, their 10th studio album, they were hardly recognizable from the dark violet, world-class luxury liner (that had sold nearly 15 million LPs) they once were, looking and sounding more like a lavender tugboat in dry dock. When tumultuous in-fighting nearly disemboweled the band at the peak of their popularity a few years earlier they jettisoned two miscreants from the ranks and brought in vocalist David Coverdale and bassist Glenn Hughes. This resulted in their showpiece effort, the supercharged "Burn," that gave the group's flagging career a much-needed shot of adrenaline. But, like many revived marriages, the same differences of opinion, overblown egos and bad habits eventually resurfaced to wreak havoc. This time it was their revered guitar god, Ritchie Blackmore, who filed for divorce and joint custody of the hits. The remaining quartet broke with their Brits-only tradition and recruited his replacement from the colonies, wisely enlisting the services of a heralded gunslinger from Sioux City named Tommy Bolin. They figured this handsome shredder and his respected rock & roll pedigree/credentials would give their troubled band a major kick in the caboose (and he did to an extent) but, unfortunately, he couldn't fix what was ailing Deep Purple. Their illness had gone terminal ere he even crossed the pond.

The cause of the crippling deficiency in their creativity can be diagnosed by taking a gander at the writing credits. I picture the initial welcome-to-the-club meeting with Tommy going something like this. "We're totally blown away by your flashy licks and your groovy threads, Yank, so we want you to join up pronto. You will? Right on! By the way, do you have any song ideas? We're fresh out." Bolin, not known for his writing abilities per se, thus was saddled not only with the daunting task of filling Blackmore's stilettos but also with providing seeds for the newest crop of songs. Add to this the jaded Jon Lord's preoccupation with waiting for someone to buy a copy of his personal "Gemini Suite" from the year before, and you have poor Tommy left to work with the dubious penmanship of Glenn and David. Not surprisingly, therefore, this haphazardly-constructed album is as dull as its cheesy cover design. Small wonder they called it quits for 8 years after this one. And, as far as it goes for finding any remnants of their progressive rock roots? Fuggit about it. That Deep Purple sleeps with the fishes.

You know you're in trouble when the strong, bold "we are here to rape and pillage" opening chord with Bolin's trademark Echoplex whirling into the beyond like a screaming banshee is the apex of the entire album. That's no exaggeration. It slopes steeply downhill from there. That confident promise made at the start of "Comin' Home" proves empty as they proceed to bore you into a coma with this lifeless specimen of below-average formula rock. Coverdale's high-pitched, neutered Chihuahua wail is vapidly emotionless as he delivers juvenile lyrics along the lines of "now that we're all back together/gonna shiver 'n' shake all night/I just gotta say the music I play/will sure 'nuff make you feel alright." (Somewhere Yeats feels threatened. Not.) What really strains your patience, though, is the middle 28 bars (yes, I counted them) they consigned to newbie Tommy forthwith to fill with razzle-dazzle guitarisms. Hey, the kid's good but that would be a tall order even for the likes of Jeff Beck, if you catch my drift. Alas, it proves to be too much canvas to paint for Bolin and you kinda feel sorry for him. It's a noisy mess.

"Lady Luck" is next and though Tommy can't be blamed for its composition, it still lays there dormant, drawing flies like a ripe cow patty. It suffers from the despicable disco beat that was all the rage in '75, the song structure is as tired as a first year law student and there's absolutely nothing of interest going on unless you're fascinated by words like "c'mon give me what I want/pull me up, lady luck/if I see you again/I will call you my friend/c'mon shake me." Git down wid your bad self, David. (James Brown, your "Godfather of Soul" status is secure. R.I.P.) "Gettin' Tighter" does have an energetic guitar riff going for it and, while helium-timbered Hughes is no Paul Rodgers, he manages to sing with a little grit and passion throughout. The Anglo-funk bridge is clever and Glenn actually lets fly with a pre- Michael Jackson "woo-hoo" long before its time had come. (Hughes, you should've nabbed the patent.) Despite the stupid lyric content ("You say you're feelin' fine/it's getting' tighter all the time.") this cut comes closest to being listenable even though Bolin tries too hard to wow us on his guitar ride and ends up being sloppy. Someone should've told him sometimes less is more.

"Dealer" follows and it's a prime example of ho-hum, run-of-the-mill rock and lousy arranging. The sappy bridge they force into the midsection is ridiculously out-of-place and it kills whatever trace of momentum they'd mustered at that point. Here Tommy cranks out one of his better solos but the song is too tedious to give a flip. The track could've benefited from some hot organ but Jon is AWOL for most of this project. Oh, and then there's the scary words that Coverdale delivers ever so seriously. "If you fool around with the dealer/remember soon you'll have to pay/he'll creep behind you like a hunter/just to steal your soul away," he warns us. Just say no, youngsters. "I Need Love" is next and the nothing-a-chimp-couldn't-whip-out riff, the uninventive two-chord verse, and yet another Caucasian funkfest will have you nodding off into your Rice Krispies. This was intentionally aimed at the mindless dance crowds of the day but they wouldn't have given this stinker a spin on a $10 dare. Bolin throws in some spiffy spasms toward the end but they can't save it from the stigma of David refusing to keep his pony in the barn and reeling off sexist zingers like "your body was honey/I tasted a lot/but let me tell you babe/I need more than you got." Let's act like we didn't hear that, mm'kay?

"Drifter" sports a heavy, plodding beat that's as much fun as a migraine. These guys in their laziness recorded one of the most drab cookie-cutter rock numbers I've ever heard. It makes no impression on the listener at all. Coverdale sums it up best when he sings "takin' air, an' movin' 'round/is all I can see that I'm doin'/an' it is bringin' me down." You and me both, brother. "Love Child" is a sort of throwback to Purpler days with its dense, droning atmosphere. The backsliding Lord actually makes an appearance but he only mucks up the tune with an extremely lame and reedy ARP solo. At this juncture it becomes noticeable that David sings exactly the same on every song on this album. Probably cut them all in one day before noon. The same morning he penned all these fabulous lyrics. "You can walk thro' fire/make the north wind blow/squeeze 'n' tease me honey/when you shake your body/you move my soul," he screams with faux conviction. Sounds like an Austin Powers line to me.

Jon must've brought in some leftovers from his solo thing because they clearly state in the liner notes that he played all the instruments on "This Time Around." It doesn't help to know that, though. The piano is a nice change of scenery, for sure, but it's sorta Gino Vanelli-ish and way, way too lounge act schmaltzy. The second half of this cut is an instrumental by Tommy called "Owed to G" and it possesses a sliver of attitude and swagger, making it almost worth a spit. They let the record die an agonizing death with 5:18 of filler junk entitled "You Keep on Moving" that has no direction, no punch, no power, no excitement and no purpose for being. Yet there, right in the middle like a tiny pearl in a sty, is a swell Hammond organ ride from Jon that's completely wasted in this quagmire. David and Glenn have the audacity to sing "you keep moving far away, far away." Do tell. Can you blame us, fellas?

I know, I know, I can hear the dedicated Purps out there saying "Chill out, Chica, these guys didn't get famous because of their poignant prose in the first place so why crucify them here for their lack of literacy?" The answer is that if I limited myself to critiquing only the music contained on this disc the review would be two paragraphs long and what's the fun in that? As far as quoting lyrics goes, I merely let them hang themselves with their own shank of rope. The fact is, this doomed-to-fail incarnation of Deep Purple asked their fans to "Come Taste the Band," without sampling the fruit of their own weedy vineyard beforehand. If they had, they would've found that this watered-down, puny vintage had a dearth of character and body. This bottle of wine is of the screw-top variety that's imbibed only to get drunk on, not for savoring the bouquet. I'll admit I didn't expect much from this album and I wasn't disappointed. Yet it never ceases to amaze me that groups of this caliber are willing to put their name on baskets of road apples such as this. Shame on them. It belongs in the same category as their abysmal "Who Do We Think We Are?" fiasco and that's about as low as a band can get.

Chicapah | 1/5 |

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