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


Deep Purple



3.20 | 499 ratings

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4 stars This is not your Daddy's Deep Purple

COME TASTE THE BAND is the only studio offering by Deep Purple Mark IV, but the album's significance really is all about the new member, one legendary Tommy Bolin. Bolin was brought in from the James Gang to fill the dark boots of Ritchie Blackmore, but instead Bolin and Bassist Glenn Hughes took hold and changed the band into their own creation. The new band resembled the James Gang more than Purple during the majority of the rock cuts, and was its own beautiful entity at the end of the album. Interestingly, veteran Ian Paice seems to love the new ride, and his work is varied, interesting, and energetic. Alternately, Jon Lord's offerings are limited but solid. David Coverdale's talented pipes and impaired lyric writing skills are his usual, though at this point he's mimicking Paul Rodgers rather than Robert Plant.

I picked this album up in the early 90's as part of my Tommy Bolin obsession, and had it pretty much memorized. Like many of my old albums, I lost it around the turn of the millennium, and only recently downloaded it. My first impression of the album was being surprised at just how much it rocks. Surely, bands doing this style of music were a dime a dozen in the mid-70's, but few or none had this level of talent top to bottom. The band is tight, and the level of swagger and attitude are on full display. This is rock n' roll to move your backbone! It is no surprise Bolin funked up the signature "Smoke on the Water" riff live, for this band just didn't seem to have that degree of plodding linearity in them. The peak of this is the US single "Gettin' Tighter" which features Glenn Hughes singing over a Bolin riff straight from his James Gang days and including a purely 70's funk-fest for a bridge.

This is not Tommy's best work, but it's not bad. (His tracks on Alphonse Mouzon's "Mind Transplant" are my favorites.) By the time of the recording of this album, he really wasn't growing much as player. Drugs already were occupying a bigger and bigger part of his life and would all too quickly wreck his playing and then take his life. Part of him knew this, as addiction was a frequent theme in his songwriting. His angelic vocal bridge on "Dealer" sounds exactly like what it was, a singular soul being torn away. But before that terrible descent, we get some last morsels in the closing of the album.

Starting with "Love Child," the riffing becomes more serpentine, syncopated, complex, and nastier. The line grooves, but it's more of the forboding crunch Bolin would use on his solo works like "Teaser" and more notably "Shake the Devil." Jon Lord adds a rare synth solo spot to the mix on a song that would be great had the lyrical content not been so out of line with the tone of the music. From there we get the gospel-like Lord-Hughes duet "This Time Around," the best vocal spot on the album. This morphs into Bolin's "Owed to G," the only prog song on the album. Undoubtedly inspired by some of his depths with drugs, the piece is another composed piece of heavy texture that is what made Bolin such a monster.

In all his career, Ritchie Blackmore has never created a musical world as lush and beautiful as the few minutes contained in "Owed to G." People, guitarists especially, sometimes fail to get Bolin's genius. It's easy to say "I could play that." Though his technique was strong when he was sober and focused, it was pentatonic and his bag of tricks was easy to hear. And yet, his tone and attack were singular. Even without his trademark echoplex, one can instantly tell when Tommy was playing. Along with a remarkable ear and a true rock bravado, the energy he added to music was unmatched. Every record he played on was as much a Tommy record as the artist, whether it was Purple or Billy Cobham or Zephyr (his first major band and the one where he really developed into himself.) There was a reason he was in demand, a reason he got the high profile gigs he did.

There is really only one song that sounds like what this group would have been had they tried to make a real Deep Purple record. The final track, "You Keep On Moving" is a slow burner that finally features Lord's Hammond which mixes well with Bolin's echo-ey texturing. But the song is really a feature piece for Glenn Hughes, whose interplay with Coverdale is quite good. The song is one of the few that actually sounds great on the live "Last Concert in Japan," which was marked by Tommy faking his way through the set with a half working arm wounded by a bad needle stick.

COME TASTE THE BAND has a special place in my history and my heart. It's a great rock n' roll album, a strong Tommy album, and contains tastes of what the immensely talented Deep Purple Mark IV could have become. I'm going to give a biased 4/5 stars though it's probably between 3 and 4 somewhere.

Negoba | 4/5 |


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