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


Deep Purple



3.21 | 506 ratings

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Dick Heath
Special Collaborator
Jazz-Rock Specialist
3 stars I was shocked when it was announced Tommy Bolin had joined Deep Purple. I had been well aware of Bolin's work for some time before this, having first come across him as Joe Walsh's replacement on the James Gang's 'Bang' album (which has several of my favourite rock tunes from the early 70's sit on this record, written by Bolin, plus providing some good examples of Bolin's successful experiments with the Echoplex - e.g. check out 'Standing in the rain') and then on the weaker 'Miami'. And of course at the same time Bolin's tour de force on record appeared, featured in equal partnership to maestro Jan Hammer on Billy Cobham's essential 'Spectrum' album(1).

Having progressively got bored with DP's output since 'In Rock', (IMHO they had become too popular, and so too often played on radio for my tastes!). I had avoided buying their albums after Gillan had left (and indeed Gillan had made a couple of good jazz rock albums himself, e.g. 'Clear Air Turbulence'). But then I found 'Come Taste The Band' in a dumper bin in a local W H Smiths and was tempted into buying. First play and I liked the album, (still do); it was different from the earlier DP albums. Whether it was a "heavy funk" albums (as some pundits claimed, because of the sometime musical preferences of both the vocalist and lead guitarist) rather then a "heavy rock" one, I didn't care? However, what I heard was Tommy Bolin doing a rerun of those two James Gang albums tune-wise (i.e. through his contribution to tune compositions and arrangements to 'Come Taste The Band'). Reinforced by what other critics had claimed, that Deep Purple were in awe of Bolin and couldn't understand why he wanted the lead guitarist's chair, I've held the opinion from the 2nd week of owning this album, is a really a Tommy Bolin record which happens to have Deep Purple as the backing band, (I suppose, rather like Paul Rodger currently has Queen to back him when he does old Free and Bad Company tunes!). Therefore the reference points are not earlier DP albums, but rather 'Bang' and 'Miami'. The belatedly released double album (why isn't listed here by October 2005?), 'Days May Come And Days May Go' , gives a very different sounding Purple and Bolin combination jamming and making good heavy blues, (claimed to be recorded during the original Bolin "audition")(2).

With hindsight, you have to suspect with the combination of touring and success with Deep Purple, may have accelerated Tommy Bolin drug habit and very premature death. While playing reasonable to good music with Purple, I never felt he was being stretched, as you will hear on 'Spectrum' or even Alphonse Mouzon's 'Mind Transplant' (a rather second rate attempt to do 'Spectrum' over again), or on a handful of jazz rock tunes on his first solo album 'Teaser' (check out the line-up on 'Marching Powder'(3), for who Bolin could attract into the studio) or the straight rock of 'Private Eyes'.

What might have been, what might have been?

Footnotes: (1) Check out the jam on the most recent CD reissue of 'Spectrum', called 'All 4 One', to hear Bolin's confidence in the company of first class musicians; as tight with Hammer and in his improvising, as John McLaughlin had been in Mahavishnu. (2) 'On The Wings Of A Russian Foxbat', a live recording gives yet another aspect of the union, when Bolin was in free fall. (3) While rough around the gills, the demo of Jan Hammer's composition 'Sister Andrea' - to later to appear on the third Mahavishnu album, in a very different form - finds Bolin in company of jazzers yet again. Speculation: did Jan Hammer take Jeff Beck under his wing, because he had lost Bolin to Deep Purple?

Dick Heath | 3/5 |


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