Deep Purple and MOJO magazine

The short-lived Deep Purple Mk 4. From left: The late Tommy Bolin, Glenn Hughes, Jon Lord, David Coverdale, and Ian Paice.

The short-lived Deep Purple Mk 4. From left: The late Tommy Bolin, Glenn Hughes, Jon Lord, David Coverdale, and Ian Paice.

I recently wrote a mammoth piece for a magazine in the UK on how tumultuous periods in some massive bands after the loss of a key member (or two) can often see the band produce some of their best material. I’ll stick it up here soon, but it featured a heavy emphasis on Black Sabbath and Deep Purple.

When it comes to Black Sabbath, the periods with Ronnie James Dio out front are just sublime. The albums he produced with them between 1979 and 1982, and again in 1992, and yet again in 2009 (albeit as Heaven & Hell) are arguably amongst the all-time greatest metal albums, and the piece goes into much detail on these. It’s not been published yet, but it’ll be up here as soon as it is/isn’t.

As for Deep Purple, well everyone says the Mk 2 era is untouchable, much as many say the Ozzy-era with Sabbath can’t be topped. Well, I have always begged to differ, and for me, the Mk 3 and Mk 4 eras of Deep Purple saw the band produce some of their finest work in the form of the ‘Stormbringer’, ‘Burn’ and ‘Come Taste the Band’ albums.

Sure, the fabled Mk 2 era of Ian Gillan, Richie Blackmore, Ian Paice, Jon Lord and Roger Glover did produce the Purple template – and most of the songs – by which they will always be remembered, but after the departure of Gillan and Glover, the Mk 3 era of David Coverdale, Glenn Hughes, Lord, Blackmore and Paice unleashed two incredible albums on which the Purple took their trademark formula and added the funk, particularly on 1974’s ‘Stormbringer’ – the last album with Blackmore. After he sulked off to form Rainbow, Purple recruited Tommy Bolin on guitar. After just a few short months together they released THE most under-rated Deep Purple album of all-time: ‘Come Taste the Band’. The extensive Purple reissue programme of the past decade has sadly saw fit to effectivlely ignore this killer of an album, giving it a remastered release but with little of the hoo-ha of the other reissues and today it’s almost impossible to find outside of record fairs, Amazon and illegal sources.

I wrote a short piece on this album in response to call from MOJO Magazine for a ‘How To Buy’ special on Deep Purple and – lo and behold – it’s included (in a slightly different form) in this month’s issue of the mag. The album comes in at a very respectable no.7 in the Purple Top 10.

“It’s funky, spirited, bluesy… and mind-blowing” – Ronan Casey

“Purple had survived without Ian Gillan, and Roger Glover, but without Richie Blackmore? Even the remaining members had doubts, but with new guitarist Tommy Bolin, Purple rallied again, if only fleetingly. The most under-rated Purple, ‘Come Taste the Band’ peaks with two inspired soul/rock jams: ‘This Time Around/Owed to ‘G’ (‘G’ as in George Gershwin) and ‘You Keep on Moving’. But Bolin, a heroin addict, and cokehead bassist Glenn Hughes derailed the band. Purple announced their break-up on July 6, 1976. Five months later, Bolin was dead from an overdose at 25.”

The tragic Bolin was a gifted axeman, and this album reeks with a resonance of what could have been. His playing throughout is frankly astounding, out-Blackmoring Blackmore. Around him, a loose and funky Purple play brilliantly, reaching the apex of the groove they found with the addition of Coverdale and Hughes to their ranks a few albums earlier. At times, on funky rock’n’soul tracks like “I Need Love”, “Getting Tighter” and (the end) of “Love Child” it’s hard to fathom that this is (kind of) the same band that knocked off “Smoke on the Water”. Purple reformed with the “Smoke…” Mk 2 line up in 1984, released a few stinkers, lost Blackmore again (replacing him with the very fine Steve Morse) and still play to this day although I think they’re on, er, Mk8 or something at the moment. Ian Paice has been the only constant in all line-ups.

Anyhow, if you feel a little a Purple patch coming on, why not come and taste the fleeting Mk4 line up?

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