Deep Purple - 'Come Taste The Band'

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Deep Purple - 'Come Taste The Band'

Much better than many would have you believe.

As time moves on, Deep Purple albums continue to be re-released, re-mastered, re-hashed and recycled. The latest from the Deep Purple studio albums catalogue is the 'Come Taste The Band' 35th Anniversary, at one point thought to have been their last studio record. The group were in a bit of a state - Ian Gillan and Roger Glover had long since departed, replaced by Glenn Hughes and David Coverdale, two vocalists instead of one, resulting in a change of sound. It didn't matter on 'Burn' because the new blood were kept on a tight leash, but once it was time to follow it with a new album, 'Stormbringer', Coverdale and Hughes got properly stuck in. The result was some funkier, R'n'B leanings which alienated guitar hero Ritchie Blackmore (who ironically was the one pushing for twin vocalists to get a new sound). After famously branding 'Stormbringer' as "crap" and peeved that his idea to record 'Black Sheep Of The Family' with Purple was met with less than glowing enthusiasm, Blackmore hooked up with Elf vocalist Ronnie James Dio, formed Rainbow, and quit Deep Purple.

So, with only Jon Lord and Ian Paice left from the original Deep Purple, they, along with Hughes and Coverdale, elected to persevere and hired gifted young American six stringer Tommy Bolin. To lose Gillan upset plenty of people, to lose Blackmore as well was downright unthinkable, and sadly 'Come Taste The Band' often gets swept aside by Deep Purple fans. Well, that's their loss, because as far as I'm concerned, it's happens to be bloody good!

'Comin' Home' is a rollicking opener - admittedly Tommy's guitar sound is very different from Blackmore's (and so it should be because he was pretty handy in his own right and didn't need to emulate anybody) but once you're used to it there's some fine fret work on display. 'Lady Luck' drives things along nicely, and while Coverdale puts in a decent performance on this album, he is blown to the weeds by Glenn Hughes. Hughes and Bolin became firm friends quickly and produced the funk-tastic rocker 'Gettin' Tighter' - a real high point of the album and still as popular today at one of Glenn's shows as it ever was. In fact, Tommy didn't need asking twice when it came to writing, because out of the ten tracks on offer, Bolin co-wrote eight of them.



Another Glenn classic worthy of note is 'This Time Around' - featuring a haunting, soulful vocal before the funky 'Owed To G' instrumental takes over. There's also the excellent duet 'You Keep On Moving' to close the record, where Hughes and Coverdale give a fine example of why Ritchie's idea to have two singers was pretty good.

Sadly, the tour that supported this album was a bit of a disaster, with Coverdale rather fat and not singing very well, Glenn high as a kite more often than not and squealing high notes for no reason, along with Tommy being susceptible to all kinds of stuff... including ludicrously injecting himself in the arm with some junk and paralysing the limb so he could only play barre chords. You may remember that being documented on the gloriously awful 'Last Concert In Japan'.

I do think that shambolic tour, combined with no Blackmore, did paint this album in a bad light. If you don't have it and you thought Deep Purple MK III were good, try MK IV, it's stood the test of time well. If you already have it, what does this 35th Anniversary version offer? Dusted off and repackaged as a double vinyl or double CD set, there's the single edit of 'You Keep On Moving' added on which is about a minute shorter than the album cut and hardly essential. There is also a second disk, featuring the full album remixed by Kevin Shirley, along with a couple of jammed outtakes. I can't tell you how that sounds because EMI only sent me the promo of disk one. Disk one is made up of "2010 remasters" apparently, although to my ears the promo sounds utterly indistinguishable from the CD version I have from 1990. So, I'd have to say, if you have the album, without hearing the remixes, I'd say it was money for old rope. But if you don't have it, you really should give it a try... much better than many would have you believe.

James Gaden

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