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As it turns out, releasing two albums within the same year didn't spell disaster for Deep Purple, but this album is still a fairly significant step down from the magnificent 'Burn'. They seem to have embraced the voices of Coverdale and Hughes in a more commercial way here. However, it still has some songs that not only stand out on this album, but within the entire Deep Purple discography.
One of these stand-outs is 'Soldier Of Fortune'; an absolutely beautiful ballad on par with 'When A Blind Man Cries' for its memorable melodies alluring acoustic guitar work conjoining to form a masterpiece. For something less artsy, there's the title track; an awesome heavy metal track in the vein of Judas Priest's 'Sinner' with its crushing riffs and dramatic lyrics dominating the song. Both of these songs are the highlights, as well as being the closer and the opener respectively, but nothing else apart from 'The Gypsy' comes close to the quality of those.
Songs like 'Holy Man' and 'Hold On' are good for what they are; catchy, radio-friendly material designed and executed simply. However, they don't feel like major songs. Instead they come off as filler-ish and aren't going to be in any “top 10 songs” lists for this band. One good thing about the song-writing on 'Stormbringer' is that there is a pleasant dose of funk injected into the band's sound, which is quite an entertaining diversion.
As this was the last Deep Purple album to have Ritchie Blackmore, his style on here may remind you of songs like 'Snake Charmer' or 'Sixteenth Century Greensleeves' (which may make you wonder how the album would sound with Dio on vocals). For the rest of the members, it's business as usual; not much really much new to say here.
Overall, 'Stormbringer' would be a fairly disappointing listen after 'Burn', but it's still a stable album that may be more consistent than that album, considering that there is no '“A” 200' to drag it down. Unfortunately, after this album, things looked bleak for Deep Purple, as the departure of Ritchie Blackmore made for a difficult situation, as there wasn't really anyone else with his style around. Luckily, Tommy Bolin was found to make 'Come Taste The Band' with the rest of Deep Purple, but this was not going to be another comeback like 'Burn' was.
After delivering the goods in Burn, a couple of mid-talented guys, David Coverdale and Glenn Hughes, thought they could do it even better and started to take control of the issue. This is the point when we start to see the downfall of the finest heavy metal band of its time, alongside Black Sabbath, pioneer of the genre.
If you wonder why DP took this direction after such a great album, well, it's a mystery, but a common mystery in Purple's history. It happened with Who Do we Think we Are and The House of Blue Light most later. DP had its moments when a kind of a hybrid process took place. The thing is that here, in Stormbringer, we can't know if it is about a negligence from Blackmore, or maybe the guys gave a chance to Coverdale and Hughes to take the poll. Regardless of this, well, the influence of the newbie couple is extremely superior in this release comparing to the earlier one and this gives a different, maybe odd and original, but weak and inferior sound for this release.
The title track "Stormbringer" is the finest hour in the record. Here we get all the ingredients that made DP an unique force in the early heavy metal world. Blackmore's killing riffs and solos, Maestro Lord filling the atmosphere with his keyboarding, Paicey beating the hell out with his drums and, well, Coverdale and Hughes doing what they always should have done: follow the lead by the three guys cited above. The lyric here is, maybe, one of the most violent ones in DP lyrical universe: "Ride the rainbow, crack the skies; Stormbringer coming, time to die!" and that stuff, which sets perfectly in the metal world. But, from then on there is nothing more. We shall meet a funky bluesy groovy world beyond anything we have heard and we could have liked from DP.
"Love Don't Mean a Thing" is the paradigma for this. Sounds kinda like today's favourite style in Classic Rock stations in America, a song that you would like to listen while driving your vehicle between arid zones and some mountains around Arizona, maybe. But that's not DP! Deep Purple was always about power, seeking and destroying. This could make me sound like a purist, a traditionalist without wishes to accept some changes. But man, if we can criticise Who do We Think We Are, why can't we do the same here, specially if we find almost the same failures?? Same thing happens with "Holy Man". Besides of a tender and nice guitar intro by Blackmore, there is nothing more than trying to sound groovy and cool.
Then, we reach the climax with "Hold On". To me, the worst song here. And excuse me, because actually is not a bad song. But for DP standards, is no more than a mediocrity. It's like having the same like the previous song, but with more groovyness and wanting even more to sound like 70's rock. Every second later it feels like you are deeply returning through the paths of Who do We Think We Are without Gillan's singing and with more funky in the veins.
Then, "Lady Double Dealer" reaches the stage and, unfortunately, fails to explode and lingers, dwells like a dwarf star. It's not as mediocre as the whole album but, in the same time, it does not reach the "classic" level of the finest creations by the band. It's obvious, notwithstanding, that here, is Blackmore the one who leads the beat with that powerful riff. But somehow, that's all. Nothing more than a nice riff. Jon Lord is almost vanished and Paice does nothing but to follow the line. So, well, no Purple spirit here.
Again, a magic riff by Blackmore gives us, maybe, the second nice song in the whole album. "You Can't do it Right". Somehow, under Blackmore's fingers in the strings, you are knocking with a smooth paice your head. This song is a personal favourite, without having the usual power and "metalness" by DP. If you like bluesy funky groovy rock, well, there you got a masterpiece. Quite enjoyable if you are up to heavier sounds. But, hey, this is not DP!!. Even if you might be singing the chorus all day long, well, this is not DP. The finest thing here is the return of Jon Lord doing his thing. And, well, it has the best shared-lyrical lines by Coverdale and Hughes. Then, a nice intrumental ("High Ball Shooter") leads us to "Gypsy" and its spacey sound. This one could have been a great song if the Purple spirit was there. But sounds, again, AOR, trying to look cool; sounds again like 70's rock instead of traditional heavy metal.
Finally, the ballad "Soldier of Fortune" is a nice shot. The whole collection of ballads by Deep Purple (which is not so big) is good and this piece does not fail to enter in that realm. Not many words to say about it.
So, when Coverdale and Hughes took the lead (with a little influence, yet, of Blackmore and the rest of the founding members), well, they tried to sound exactly as how most of the popular bands sounded during those days. They tried to sound AOR, and in terms of AOR, this is a brilliant album. But in terms of DP, is no more than a mediocrity, saved only by some lick of influence provided by Blackmore, Lord and Paice. No Purple spirit.
With the departure of Ritchie Blackmore, the guitar god, and with the leadership of Jon Lord and Ian Paice reduced to something near to the definition of accesories, David Coverdale and Glenn Hughes would almost give a fatal blow to the glorious career of this pioneer band with the next record to come. But that's another tale.
Stormbringer is no doubt the most interesting Deep Purple album ever put out, it has a weird mixture of funk, soul, and blues. Stormbringer has got to be the most unique Deep Purple album. It's unique because of the combination of the different genres, and because if somebody heard this album, but didn't know what band it was, Deep Purple would most likely be the last band they would think of when quizzed about it.
When people think of Deep Purple, this is definitely the last album they would imagine to be apart of the Purple discography. Every band has that one album where it sounds nothing like something the band would normally produce. Stormbringer is definitely that album for Purple. It's a shame that most people, when a band experiments with a new style/sound, automatically disown it and refuse to acknowledge it as an album from whatever band. Albums like Stormbringer, obscure part of Purple's discography, deserved to be acknowledged and listened to, because it shows a different side of Purple that really shows that Blackmore is a versatile guitarist.
The first time I heard this album, I was immediately turned off by the intro keyboards on the title track. It was just too weird and funky for me to appreciate. After listening to the album several times after that, I realized it's a great album with some masterful song writing that perfectly combines the elements of funk, soul, blues, and rock.
The title track, is the strongest song on the album. It has a catchy riff, great melodies and great song structure. The solo is melodic and it really fits with the song wonderfully.
I wouldn't really say that there's a really weak track on this album. Every track is different as it jumps around with different elements of the genres already mentioned in this interview, being the forefront for each different track. The track 'Hold On' sounds like it would be something from some old school motown band. 'You Can't Do It Right' is definitely the funkiest song on the album, the bass really stands in the forefront and has a real funk bass lines. 'Soldier Of Fortune' is definitely one of the best ballads ever and it's a great way to close the album. Most bands put ballads in the middle of an album, which sort of ruin the flow of it if the rest of the album isn't ballad-like, but ending the album with a ballad, is a good way to close an album.
Stormbringer is a very interesting, unique, and truly underrated masterpiece from a line-up that doesn't seem to get enough love like it deserves. Both Burn and Stormbringer are amazing albums.
This album definitely is for a more established Purple fan, rather than someone just getting into it, because they could very easily be turned off by it. It doesn't have the heaviness that traditional Purple albums have. Stormbringer is a great album to just relax and get stoned while listening. Stormbringer is the perfect stoner album.
If one were to expect an album simliar to "Burn" then that person is going to be thrown in for a loop. The remarkable thing is that both "Burn" and the album being reviewed, "Stormbringer", were released the same year yet both have significantly different sound and style to them. It may have something to do with the amount of drugs being taken by Glenn Hughes and David Coverdale, but that is a discussion for another day. The one aspect that is evident is the amount of blues and soul infused into the songs and it is understandable why master axe man Ritchie Blackmore would be upset.
The songs that shine on here are the ones Ritchie goes full force with his famous Fender Stratocaster and when his riff playing is the main component featured. His catchy, intricate up-tempo riffing is the main highlight found here. This also brings out the brilliance of Jon Lord because the double team of his keyboards and Ritchie's guitar playing is unmatched by any other band.
The dueling vocals of David Coverdale and Glenn Hughes return and again they are very impressive to hear. Hughes shows his soulful vocal chords on "Holy Man" and "Hold On" and Coverdale's screeching, bluesy voice complements it perfectly. The way they play off each other is impressive and unique to this version of Deep Purple.
However, where "Burn" succeeded is where "Stormbringer" failed. For one, the drumming of Ian Paice is severely toned down, mostly doing a simple, blues type of beat and is not the wild, frantic kind we all know and love from him. The guy is a great musician, but you would not know it from this album. Another is the prevalence of the funky bass playing by Glenn Hughes. It just sounds annoying and is not enjoyable. "Love Don't Mean a Thing", and "Hold On" just drag the album down with no awesome riffing and having an overload of blues in them. Then "You Can't Do It Right" is a pure funk song and it is embarrassingly bad especially with the trippy chorus.
While a listener of this album maybe frustrated on what is going on, the last song will cure a lot of it. "Soldier of Fortune" is an acoustic track song sung by Coverdale and it is very melodic and beautifully done and might bring on a few tears. It is very melancholic and the inclusion of the violin in the background furthur adds to it and is one of the best Deep Purple songs.
"Stormbringer" is an album that will frustrate listeners as it is rather hit-and-miss. There are some very enjoyable moments found on here though and is worth the purchase. Some may like the bigger inclusion of blues and funk, but it just does not fit Deep Purple. With that being said, this still gets a good score and is still a good Purple record. This would be Ritchie's swansong as he would go on to form Rainbow because he did not like the direction of the band. Don't let that fact deter you from buying this though as it is certainly something to listen to.
Burn marked the beginning of a new era for Deep Purple, the addition of both future rock stars Hughes & Coverdale was a sensible choice to reinvent, refresh the group’s sound and move away from the Mark-II formulas. Soon both new vocalist and bassist got involved in the songwriting, eclipsing both Lord & Blackmore on that process on the following release Stormbringer surprisingly, incorporating more notable funky, soul and blues influences, melody and groove which seemed to dissatisfy completely the Man In Black. As you can check on the show set-lists by that time, the classic Gillan-Glover era tunes were being replaced by mostly new songs (occasionally “Smoke On The Water” and “Highway Star” were the only old cuts included in the set). So Mark-III’s sound was totally consolidated by late-1974, both Glenn & David brought freshness and energy to the group – the chemistry between the group members was remarkable, something clearly reflected on this 9th Purple studio album.
This record is quieter and more melodic, yet you can still find considerable aggression, in particular on the spectacular opening cut (according to rumors, that backmasked message before the first verse was inspired by one of Linda Blair’s quotes on The Exorcist), which attacks with that vicious killer riff and the most violent vocals on a Deep Purple song ever. It’s a brutal though also sophisticated riff, executed with exquisite taste and passion by Mr. Blackmore, who adds some Arabic licks, refining the texture of his lines and introducing delicate harmonies on that mid-section. Great intensity, power and ferocity is displayed as well on “Lady Double Dealer”, on which Paice speeds-up the beat, incorporating greater looseness, accompanying Lord & Ritchie’s frenetic lines in another exhibition of classy power metal, deprived of the complexity and ambition of “Burn” but still quite innovative, fast and original for its time. However, those 2 are exceptions on a record that exponentially focus on melody and groove, pushing away roughness and complication to discover casual, simplistic cuts like “Love Don’t Mean A Thing”, a predominantly vocal-based piece on which instrumental section serves the numerous verses, including rather concise solos and straight riff variations. Music is generally weighty, particularly quiet on lyrical ballads like “Holy Man” and “The Gypsy”, which feature Hughes & Coverdale’s most touching performances, some sweet harmonies and mellow licks that create an emotive atmosphere. The acoustic ballad “Soldier Of Fortune” is certainly the most special, memorable track on the album, with Blackmore & David combining their talents in absolute harmony in a sentimental, dramatic performance – a quite unusual song; actually the guitarists had not included acoustic arrangements ever since “April” way back in 1969. More cheerful songs like “High Ball Shooter” and “You Can’t Do It Right” incorporate lots of energy and groove on the contrary, revealing an explicitly funky sound, defined by Ritchie & Jon’s cool licks, along with Glenn’s enthusiastic vocals with that charming touch of soul.
Stormbringer doesn’t sound like anything Deep Purple ever did before – it certainly goes into an alternative direction from albums like The Book Of Taliesyn and Fireball, embracing for the first time a funky sound, more melodic, less intricate and considerably sophisticated in contrast with the group’s original progressive heavy metal concept. In general, riffs are only accompanying vocals, serving as a complement to strong melodies – Lord’s fierce Hammond organ sound has been replaced by more accessible textures to fit the sweeter feel and nature on most songs too. Instrumentally, there are still admirably proficient parts and solos of great talent and cohesion, yet totally concise, minimalist in contrast with previous efforts – so the band is clearly simplifying their ways, making their music easier to digest, more polite and refined. No doubt about it, this time Hughes & Coverdale are attracting all attention, not only with their absolutely passionate, splendid vocal performances, as they’ve become the driving force of the band unexpectedly, conceiving and designing a majority of the titles as well. “Holy Man” and “Hold On” are actually the first Deep Purple tracks whose composition Blackmore didn’t take part on, ever since “Chasing Shadows” and “Blind” from the third homonym record. As I mentioned, the guitarist was eclipsed by the creativity and enthusiasm of the 2 new members, showing his increasing dissatisfaction with the musical direction the band was taking by keeping his ideas for himself. So it might not be the most ambitious, aggressive record from these guys but it gives us the chance to admire a completely new sound, at times including notable dynamism and punch, yet generally intended to be casual, cheerful and less accelerated – Coverdale & Hughes actually expose their sensitive, romantic side with those heavenly voices and sentimental lyrics most hardcore fans might not expected.
This is a truly peculiar album in the large career of the band, never supposed to be a sequel of Burn, proving the great capability of the latest additions David & Glenn as composers, their charisma, self-confidence and stunning talent. It also revealed the eclectic taste in music of those guys, who took inspiration from alternative styles (specially funk, blues and soul as well) that made these songs musically richer and more diverse than ever. The sound of Deep Purple kept evolving constantly during the early/mid-70’s, never repeating the same schemes, never doing the same album twice, giving us the opportunity to enjoy distinct styles, making their music unique and different from the generic bunch of contemporary rock bands. Stormbringer is the most unpredictable album they ever recorded, one of the most underrated and ignored but truly solid, highly recommended.
I know a lot of people find Stormbringer too mellow, but without proving those people wrong I would say this is probably Deep Purple’s most underrated album.
OK, most tracks are less heavy than the ones on Burn and a lot less heavy than the ones on In Rock or Fireball. But the fact of the matter is that Stormbringer provides us with very strong songwriting. The bulk of the album was written by vocalists Hughes and Coverdale with only a minor role for guitarist - and enfant terrible - Blackmore. This results in a more varied set of songs bearing influences from soul, funk and (especially) blues. Keeping that in mind there is still enough fire in this with heavier songs like Stormbringer and Highball Shooter, who both have killer riffs. The mellow side of the album is probably best represented by the saddest song ever written by Deep Purple: Holy Man. However the very best song is saved for last: Soldier of Fortune, “the best ballad ever written” (in the words of Opeth’s Mikael Åkerfeldt that is). Although Stormbringer is slightly mellow, die hard fans of Blackmore and Lords still get enough inventive guitar riffs and keyboards solo parts.
So if people would just give this album a chance, they would find themselves listening to a great record.
Some people have strong prejudice against mark III Deep Purple albums and especially this album. Sure it is not the classic mark II line-up anymore and yeah, this is not as heavy as Machine Head or Fireball. But still the mark III also created two remarkable albums with Burn and this one.
Stormbringer is the second album by mark III Deep Purple and the two new members Glenn Hughes and David Coverdale take even more charge of the band. Blackmore has retreated into the background with the songs being tight and controlled entities. There are no songs like Mule, Lazy or You Fool No One which give a lot of room for Blackmore and Lord to solo around with their instruments or the band go into, long drawn-out jams. The album has three straightforward rockers which all are top-class songs and the best ones on the album along with The Gypsy. The rockers feature great riffs and the trademark blazing Blackmore guitarwork which isn't really found on the rest of the songs. The rest of the album is much mellower than the songs I mentioned. A return to their roots of sorts, quite distinct blues and funk influences can be heard.
The vocal tradeoffs between Hughes and Coverdale does make a needed difference between the mellower songs. They tend to be a bit too samey so the different vocalist gives them at least a bit of own personality. Jon Lord's use of the keyboards is another distinct feature on this album. The different sounds he creates with his instruments are much more varied than before. As an example, one might mention the keyboard licks in the beginning of the title song. Very different from his work on the older albums yet it works well in this context.
It is not the Purple most people know and love but it isn't by any means inferior to mark II. Stormbringer delivers the goods although the goods aren't really the kind that one might expect from Deep Purple.