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I'm not a huge fan of Deep Purple's Mark II era. Don't get me wrong, I totally get why people love it and why albums like Machine Head and In Rock just to name a few get so much praise. I do enjoy listening to that material, but to me the most interesting era of Deep Purple starts with Burn. I mean, Ian Gillan is a great singer for what he does, but then Glenn Hughes and David Coverdale came along and just destroyed him.
Why do I dare of doing such a bold statement? Well, there's two great, really versatile vocalists who could outsing almost anybody any day of the week, twice on Sunday, even in these days. They could do the more bluesy songs, the rock songs, the most heartfelt stuff like Mistreated... You get the picture, I guess. On the other hand, Gillan had more of a plain register. He could scream and do the most rocking tracks as good as anyone else, but for my money he didn't have the proper technique or vocal learning to do another kind of stuff. That's where Hughes and Coverdale made sense, and there's where Deep Purple's Mark III grew an awful lot.
After two great efforts as the aforementioned Burn and its follow-up, Stormbringer, Ritchie Blackmore quits. The band decides to continue and they recruit a young, underrated by many, buried by Blackmore fanboys and talented guitarist called Tommy Bolin. Bolin could shred with the best of 'em, and he had a lot of feeling. The man could play, and boy he did. His solos sound wonderfully amazing. So with Bolin aboard, we have here what's for me the best Deep Purple line-up ever: Coverdale - Hughes - Bolin - Lord - Paice.
Jon Lord once said this album shouldn't be viewed as a full-fledged Deep Purple album, and he's right in part, albeit in part he wasn't. Yes, Come Taste the Band is more or less a Whitesnake draft, BUT they started to experiment and move towards a more funk / soul direction in Stormbringer. Obviously Ritchie Blackmore wasn't happy with it and he moved on to form Rainbow, but who can say Come Taste the Band is not a natural progression to their earlier album? I do believe so, even though for most fans this is a Hughes / Coverdale / Bolin project with Lord and Paice helping out.
Speaking a bit of the songs, a thing I've been calling for quite some time known as the "Whitesnake feeling" impregnates some tracks such as Lady Luck, I Need Love or Love Child. On these numbers the blues really kicks in and gives a great base for Coverdale to do what he does best, which is selling a hell of a lot of sex-appeal when he sings and sounds like a Robert Plant / Paul Rodgers strange mix that works wonders.
In other songs like Coming Home, Dealer and Lady Luck I can hear a more clear Deep Purple distinctive sound, the one that made them what they were, but even though these are really good numbers (and so are the above), the real gems of the album weren't here.
The best stuff for me is contained in three songs. The first one is Getting Tighter, a perfect example of Glenn Hughes' vocal pyrotechnics with a really cool funky vibe, perfectly backed by Lord's impressive organ playing, Ian Paice beating the drums with a high intensity and Tommy Bolin displaying great guitar playing chops. The second one is This Time Around/Owed to G, a song divided in two sections. in the first Glenn Hughes and Jon Lord really capture the listener's attention with a great ballad, and the second one is an instrumental piece wonderfully played. The third one, and for my money the absolute best of the album, is You Keep on Moving, where Coverdale and Hughes are absolutely on fire, with the rest of the band in a total state of grace constructing a piece of music which stands out as one of my favorite songs ever, period.
This album is an absolute masterpiece, a definite pinnacle and a swan song for a band that was breaking up slowly but surely. This shouldn't be viewed as a heavy metal album of any kind, because it's not. The In Rock and the Fireball heydays were long gone, and so was Ritchie Blackmore. Come Taste the Band should be regarded as a great album with really good music in it, but I guess most people just don't get it. I wonder why sometimes us metal fans can be so narrow minded.
It will dawn on anyone listening to this album that this is not a Deep Purple album. 60% of this line-up having also recorded three consecutive Whitesnake albums, which is as much stability one can expect when thinking of Whitesnake, this could easily be considered as Whitesnake's best album. Plus, two tracks have the word "Love" in the title, which is on par with the average Whitesnake album.
A few interesting facts became known through the years and shed light on this album's composition and overall sound.
The album opens on a weak note. The opening track is more or less a filler song, entirely written and recorded after Hughes was sent to rehab. Hence the low sounding back vocals performed by Bolin (ref. Hughes' interview on excellent documentary: Gettin' Tighter The untold story of the 1975/1976 MKIV World Tour). The track in question, "Comin' Home", doesn't sound anything like Deep Purple and is probably the most generic song ever recorded under the Purple name, even the "Slaves And Masters" stuff has at least the late Rainbow sound. It lyrically evokes the great American rock and roll tradition, just like "Speed King" did on "In Rock" - but contrary to the fresh Hendrix influenced Mk II era, this music is so generic and formulaic it makes the whole thing almost sinister. It is sad to see Purple auto-referencing themselves to a previous line-up, while they were referencing American music. Why lead the album with such a song ? To state that with Bolin, an American, now in the band, they were taking a turn towards "American" music ?
The album is noteworthy for the greatest Hughes/Coverdale duet: "You keep on moving", which was written before things started falling apart, back during the "Burn" sessions. It tops off "Gypsy", of previous album.
There are a few Bolin solo songs with some input by Coverdale (lyrics) that Bolin himself probably didn't think good enough for his solo album, which was recorded only a few months before "Come Taste the Band". Worse, there is a song entirely written by Bolin's long time friend and ex-bandmate Jeff Cook, "Lady Luck". Though it got the Coverdale lyrical treatment, it doesn't sound like Deep Purple. One wonders why it didn't end up on one of Bolin's solo albums, which both contained many Jeff Cook songs. Maybe it was not deemed good enough for Bolin by Bolin himself ? Still more enjoyable than the opening track, and Coverdale would recycle the title again (though not the song) in the late 80s with Whitesnake.
Side B is much better than side A. For instance, "Drifter" has an amazing intro, groove, guitar solo and great blues vocals by Coverdale, though relying heavily on blues clichés as usual. "Love Child" has a very good groove as well (bass punches between vocal lines) and works very well live. The highlight of side A is "Gettin' Tighter", is the only song written entirely by Hughes and Bolin. Hearing Hughes' vocals is refreshing at this point on the album, and the lyrics optimistically document how they wished things were getting between the band (live and otherwise).
Lord's only credited writing contribution is on "This Time Around", an interesting personal number by Hughes. It evolves in an instrumental called "Owed to 'G'", a vehicle for solos and live improvs, as "Mandrake Root" and "The Mule" have been in the past, or "Contact Lost" more recently.
Rehearsal recordings from a few months prior to making the album (and to making Bolin's first solo album) later made available show that Coverdale had already begun working on a ballad ("Say You Love Me") that would end up on his second solo album, "Northwinds", so we know the song existed but was not considered for this album.
On the following tour, Purple added a few songs from Bolin's first solo album "Teaser" in the live set, released pretty much at the same time as "Come Taste The Band", namely "Wild Dogs" and "Homeward Strut". This makes the album even more confusing; why did some Bolin/Cook songs end up as Deep Purple and some others as Bolin solo, and why did they play so much from Bolin's solo albums and butchered Mk II live, not to mention unending improv sessions (sadly not as inspired as during the Mk II era) and revisited classics ("Not Fade Away", "Going Down", "Georgia on my Mind") often ruined by Hughes' screaming ? I think it was clear to anyone in the band that this album was weak, and it seems that since they had prevented Bolin from promoting his own album, they had to let him play some of it during live shows. Clearly, Lord and Paice were losing interest and have revealed in subsequent interviews that they should have left at the same time as Blackmore. It all shows on the album.
Mk III albums "Burn" and "Stormbringer" also lacked cohesion and/or had their weak spots; but they had something which this album lacks (well two things, one being Ritchie Blackmore): a killer opening/title track. This album begins with a generic track and only manages to work its way halfway upwards, barely recovering by the time it ends.
Still, not the worst Deep Purple album to listen to, to this day. Anyone enjoying this should also seek out Bolin's solo albums, early Whitesnake and David Coverdale solo. Actually, Bolin's first solo album ("Teaser") should be sold together with this one, for everyone to see what Mk IV Purple could have been if Bolin had been 100% concentrated on the band.
It is very easy to believe that this album would be a failure. Arguably, the main cog of Deep Purple, Ritchie Blackmore left because of his unhappiness towards the more funky, blues based sound the band was beginning to develop on “Stormbringer.” The band was just about done after this happened, but vocalist David Coverdale and bassist Glenn Hughes wanted to push on and push on they did when they found guitarist Tommy Bolin to fill in Blackmore’s big shoes. Bolin’s style is more straightforward and has a funky edge to it than the classical leanings of Blackmore. Adding on to that, the cover art is very seventies. I’m sure some people thought it looked “happenin’” and “groovy”, but seeing the band’s faces plastered in a glass of wine creeps me out a bit.
It's evidently clear that Coverdale, Hughes, and Bolin had the biggest imprint on this album because it is a lot more bluesy and funky. Songs like “Lady Luck”, “I Need Love”, “Gettin’ Tighter” have the funky edge and lyrics trying to court the ladies. There is no “Child in Time” or the emotional outreach of “Soldier of Fortune” found on here. In all honesty, I would have reacted better to this album if it was a Whitesnake release rather than a Deep Purple record. It makes sense too because Ian Paice and Jon Lord would join Coverdale in Whitesnake after this.
Amidst all the mid-tempo rockers are some great tracks. The opener, “Comin’ Home”, has an upbeat tempo, driving keyboards and guitar, with an energetic performance by Coverdale. The true highlights occur with “This Time Around” and “Owed to G” as Lord is allowed to show his keyboard skill with an array of notes dancing as Hughes channels his inner Stevie Wonder and busts out an awesome vocal performance. It’s a perfect tune to go strolling through the city streets with. At least, that’s the images that go through my head while listening to it. Another stellar tune is “You Keep on Moving” with a cool bass line and another inspiring vocal performance by Hughes. The somber tone by Hughes and the keyboards work effectively and the middle part where the music picks up and Coverdale joins in makes for a memorable moment. Bolin closes with a great solo and it makes for a perfect song.
It’s unfortunate the songs did not become as adventurous as this as “Drifter” and “Dealer” meander in mediocrity and fail to conjure anything memorable. However, I have to give an honorable mention to “Love Child.” Besides the goofy title, the opening riff is very catchy and manages to hold my attention throughout the song.
“Come Taste the Band” ends up leaving the listener with a bitter taste. If the band had concentrated their efforts on creating more songs like “Comin” Home” and “This Time Around” it could have been truly special, but unfortunately it fails to live up to its potential. However, it is by no means a bad record. If you are going to purchase this, I highly recommend the 35th Anniversary Edition which features remixes by Glenn Hughes and two studio outtakes where you can hear a Bolin and Paice jam where Bolin wails on the guitar more than he did on the rest of the album and “Same in LA” is a neat keyboard driven rocker. You also get the story of how this lineup was formed, how the songs were put together, and what led to their breakup. Even though as a whole, the taste is sour, there are some fine sips inbetween.
The Black Sheep of the Family, Ritchie Blackmore, dissapointed of the musical direction the band took and filled with remorse because of the rejection he recieved when he wanted to record some rock classics in Stormbringer, decided to quit the band he created, starting a beautiful episode known for every metalhead as "Rainbow".
Such a big vacancy, maybe the biggest vacancy in the history of heavy metal, was to be filled by the newcomer Tommy Bolin. This guy fitted perfectly into the standards of the mid-talented leaders of the band at that moment, Coverdale and Hughes: he had that funky touch and sounded more conventional than neo-classical and intrincate Blackmore. Being that said and with the influence of Jon Lord and Paicey reduced to nice accesories, Come Taste the Band meets light and gives the finest NON DEEP PURPLE album ever.
Yeah, that is. And for the worst, well, almost every song sounds exactly the same. Starting from "Comin Home", we believe we are entering a totally new universe in DP. Feeling something that, in a way, sounds familiar because of the previous album but with a different touch and feeling. But at the next song we listen almost the same sound, the same idea, the same style of playing, the same funky groovy AOR oriented sound. The basic question is: ¿can something good be expected from a couple of guys who never quited or never evolved from the short handed funky sounds. If you add a guitar player who does exactly the same thing you are used to do, well, you can't expect new things. Afer listening Stormbringer, all of this sounds like a cheaper and lighter version of it. One after the other, "Lady Luck", "Gettin' Tighter", "Dealer", "I Need Love", "Drifter", "Love Child" and "This Time Around" are, maybe faster, maybe slower, maybe funkier, maybe bluesier, the same thing in one way or the other. There are no blast beats by Paicey, there are no atmospheric keyboard soloing, the bass lines are mediocre and usual, there are no magic guitar solos nor blasting riffs (is it possible to match Ritchie's standards?). And the vocals? Well, like Burn but 75% lighter.
Listening to this is like to listen an album by Foghat, early Kansas or even Billy Idol to some extent. Is like a more straightforward version of Trapeze or a non-cheesy and a bit funkier style of Whitesnake. But, even more than the previous album, this is not DP. In Stormbringer there were some high points, a little bit of Purple spirit. Here, everything is as dull as the song you've heard before the next one. The only tracks which are in the palette of Deep Purple's greatness are "You Keep on Moving" and "Owed to G". The latter one is a nice instrumental, ouvre and gràce de Jon Lord. The first one is, maybe, the only remarkable song made by this mediocre mark. The keyboarding and the final solo (the finest ever done by Bolin) are the only salvation spots for this entire album.
After a relative success (not so big comparing with the previous albums) of this release, the major heavy metal band of the seventies disbanded. Coverdale took Paice and Lord for Whitesnake while Hughes and Bolin went on different pathways.
David Coverdale had a little bit of success with his girly glamish pop rock sometimes hard band, while Hughes attempted a weak passage through BLACK SABBATH (Yikes!, Iommi, what were you thinking? Ah, yeah, a solo album rotten by discographic companies). And the worst part was for Bolin. He tried to replace Blackmore in DP's guitar and he died. Destiny knows why this kind of things happens...
Deep Purple, as I said above, the greatest heavy metal act in the early seventies entered in a profound comma after this album. Fortunately, the gods smiled us all and Mark II returned for bringing the goods once again in Perfect Strangers. But that's another tale.
Many things had changed since the heydays of “In rock” and “Machine head”. Ian Gillan with his distinctive screaming voice had left the group, the legendary pioneer bassist, songwriter and producer Roger Glover had gone and Ritchie Blackmore was the last victim of changes, leaving Deep Purple disappointed by the band’s new music direction and his little involment in the previous album “Stormbringer”. Bluesy David Coverdale was the new main vocalist and funky Glenn Hughes was the new bassist, sharing also the vocals with David. Tommy Bolin was also the new guitarist of the group (and a new great vocalist too!) revitalising the band.
The differences between MK IV and the previous incarnations of Deep Purple are apparent. David, Glenn and Tommy were not so dynamic and they could not scream as well as I. Gillan, but few groups had the privilege of three top-class gifted singers sharing the vocals (the quality of these guys has also been proved by other projects such as “Trapeze”, “Whitesnake”, “Tommy Bolin band” etc.). They were softer, but that does not mean that they were worse than Gillan (some people also believe that they were better!!). Additionally, the new guitarist was not so inventive, progressive, capable riff maker and aggressive as Ritchie, but he was more virtouoso, vivid, spontaneous and fresh than his predecessor. Ritchie seemed to use his guitar as a powerful gun, while Tommy made love with it! Nobody was better than the other, they were just different. The group had also been freed by the rival between Ritchie and the “newcomers” (Glenn and David), who wanted to lead the group, so they could express more easily their preferences, creating an exciting mixture of blues, funk and hard-rock. Finally, Ian Paice and Jon Lord (always precious additions) had abandoned any claim of leadership, leaving the others to show their creativity.
In fact, that’s a completely different band than that of the previous years, sharing only the name and the glorious past. However, they deserved to continue as Deep Purple and they added another one legendary piece to the history of the band with “Come taste the band”, an ignored (for its quality) album, which is not so heavy as “Machine head” for example, but it’s, along with “Stormbringer”, the most melodic and emotional too.
“Comin’ home’ (9/10) is a vivid, fast song, with Tommy’s distinctive guitar and David’s bluesy voice being the landmarks of the track. It’s not so heavy as other openers of the group (“Highway star”, “Burn” etc.), but it’s also impressive. “Lady luck” (9/10) is another vivid song, catchy at its structure and another chance for David and Tommy to show their skills. “Gettin’ tigher” (8,5/10) is the most funky track of the album, with the apparent involvement of Glenn in the songwriting and performance too. “Dealer” (8/10), “I need love” (8/10), “Drifter” (8/10) and “Love child” (8,5/10) are the result of David’s characteristic lyrics and melodies (these songs remind me of “Whitesnake” sometimes) and the magnificent solo work of Tommy. “This time around/Owed to G” (10/10) is a melodic track divided to two parts. In the first one, the three singers share the vocals one by one, while Jon Lord backs them perfectly playing all the instruments (!). The second part breaks the serenity, with an impressive crescendo of Tommy and Jon, full of emotion and dynamic solos. Finally, the album ends with the best closer in their entire history. “You keep on moving” (10/10) is a melodic, slow song in which the long eerie vocals of the three singers, the poetic lyrics and the killing solos of Tommy really rule.
CONCLUSION: Caution! I adore that album, because I am also a hard-rock fan (not only metalhead). But when I say that it’s one of the best quality albums of Deep Purple, I really mean it. So, don’t expect to hear a heavy metal anthem such as “In rock”, but only good rock music.