Deep Purple - Come Taste the Band (1975)

Credits:

  • David Coverdale - Lead Vocals
  • Tommy Bolin - Guitar
  • Glenn Hughes - Bass, Vocals
  • Jon Lord - Keyboards
  • Ian Paice - Drums
  • Produced, engineered by Martin Birch. Mixed by Martin Birch and Ian Paice.
  • Recorded Musicland studios in Munich.

Background

This is one of those albums, like Black Sabbath's Born Again, that purists have a problem with. It's so far removed from the band's classic lineup and sound, that purists argue that this album "shouldn't even be called Deep Purple." But if you can look past all that and focus on the music and the musicianship, Come Taste the Band has a lot to offer. The truth of the matter is that the Deep Purple MKIV lineup was comprised of fantastic musicians who were capable of astonishing musical diversity. This band wasn't supposed to sound like MK. II — that was never the intention. Unfortunately, Purple's established fanbase wasn't after musical diversity. All they wanted was for the band to continue to crank out the next Highway Star or Smoke on the Water. What they got was something else entirely. So how did it happen?

If you weren't around at the time, it's probably hard to imagine that in the early 70s, Deep Purple were on par with Led Zeppelin and the Rolling Stones as one of the top grossing and most popular bands in the world. By 1972, Deep Purple were at the peak of their popularity.

Chariot of the gods. The Starship. A customized Boeing 707 made famous by Led Zeppelin. Decked out later for Deep Purple.

But it didn't last, and by the time Come Taste the Band was released in 1975, the implosion of Deep Purple was imminent. The band's demise can be traced back to the break up of the classic MK II lineup. When long brewing tensions between Ritchie Blackmore and Ian Gillan came to a head in 72, Gillan quit the band and bassist Roger Glover was sacked. They were replaced by two stunning young talents: the then-unknown David Coverdale, and the little-known Glenn Hughes from the band Trapeze. This lineup change took the band in a new musical direction and produced one of heavy rock's all-time classic albums, Burn. The successful reception of Burn — coming on the heels of a significant lineup change — was a major victory for the band. But it also opened a Pandora's Box of unexpected problems. Prior to Burn, both Coverdale and Hughes were content to exist under the thumb of one Richard Harold Blackmore. But that would soon change. With Burn's success, Coverdale and Hughes literally went from obscurity, to stars overnight.

Glenn Hughes and David Coverdale

The initial creative spark created by the lineup change soon gave way to big egos and musical differences. Where Burn had delivered heavy rock, with some soulful overtones, the follow-up album, Stormbringer, was more like a funky soul album with some hard rock edges. And while Coverdale and Hughes sang brilliantly together, Blackmore bristled when forced to play what he called "shoeshine music." And rather than trying to change Deep Purple again, Ritchie left to form Rainbow. So how does one replace a Ritchie Blackmore? Obviously, you don't. But in 1974, Deep Purple was still a top selling act, and the remaining members were always under pressure from the record label to keep going. So they found a new guitarist.

 

Tommy Bolin

In retrospect, Tommy Bolin, may seem like an unusual and ultimately tragic choice to fill the guitar slot. But in many ways, it makes perfect sense. Deep Purple is a band that has always been about musical exploration and growth. Whenever the lineup changed, Deep Purple always chose people who brought new, fresh, and different musical elements to the table. Jon Lord and Ian Paice have jazz backgrounds and came from the era of jamming and musical interplay. They never wanted to stay in one place musically and get stale. They've always sought players that will push them in new directions. That's why they chose Steve Morse in 1995 rather than any number of Blackmore clones who from the fan's perspective seem far better suited to the gig. And in 75, here was Bolin, just off stunning fusion sessions with Billy Cobham and Alphonse Muzon. He was well versed in blues from playing with Lonnie Mack and rock from the James Gang. He had his first solo album due out soon. Bolin was a hot property. He came in, nailed the audition, and Deep Purple were thrilled to land him. At least initially.

Deep Purple MK IV. Clockwise from top left: David Coverdale, Jon Lord, Tommy Bolin, Glenn Hughes, Ian Paice.

Unfortunately, Tommy Bolin was also a drug addict. And now in a situation that provided virtually limitless funds, both Bolin's and Hughes' drug habits went sprialing out of control. Bolin fared worse. As stated in Bolin's Alchemy profile, the diverse and jazzy guitarist was never truly embraced by Deep Purple's audience. Tommy made matters worse by showing little interest in playing the band's classics that predated him, and by rarely playing up to his own potential. Tommy's performances in Deep Purple were very erratic and his ability certainly seemed diminished by his drug abuse. That said, he turned in a decent performance on Come Taste the Band. So let's take a listen.

Track By Track (vocal cues in parentheses)

Comin' Home (3:55) A simple, driving song with little dynamic interest. Glenn was sick when this was recorded, so Bolin provided the bass playing and the backing vocals with Lord. Certainly not in the class of previous album openers Speed King, Fireball, Highway Star, Woman from Tokyo, Burn, or Stormbringer. The album's opening note certainly sounds like Purple. This is followed by a wooshy Bolin trademark Echoplex effect. Tommy playing slide accents in the verses, and on to more wooshy madness before finally taking a proper guitar solo. Sounds very improvisational. Goes nowhere and lasts forever. For my money, this is the weakest cut on the album. Almost a throwaway track. Fortunately, things gets better after this track.

Lady Luck (2:47) The first of many strong vocal moments for David Coverdale on this album. Lady Luck comes with a an interesting story. Written by friend of Bolin's named Jeff Cook, it was not supposed to be a Deep Purple song. Bolin played a tape of the song to Deep Purple who loved it and wanted to do it on the album. However, since Bolin didn't remember the original lyrics and they couldn't reach Jeff Cook, Coverdale filled in some of the missing words and got a writing credit! This is the kind of song David sounds great on. Paice lays down a strong, syncopated groove and Lord holds things together with the big organ sound, and Bolin contributes some few fuzzy power chords. Another slide solo by Bolin. More tasty and purposeful on this one. He gets in and gets out.

Gettin' Tighter (3:37) Here we go. A Glenn song. This is a very funky track that grooves from the get-go. Doesn't sound like any Deep Purple you'd ever heard before, but it's great. Here's where Bolin and Hughes really show what they could do when they weren't feeling restricted. Glenn on lead vocals and Tommy on very funky rhythm guitar with slide guitar melody and accents and fills. It's Glenn on the vocals on this one. When a funk breakdown occurs at 1:46, the Purple fans must have had apoplexy. Tommy takes one of his better solos on the album. He continues soloing when the main rhythm returns. This track became the template for the kind of music Glenn Hughes bases his current solo career on. And to this day, he still plays Gettin' Tighter live at every show.

Dealer (3:50) Mid tempo rocker. Song begins with a lazy, but heavy fuzzed-out riff by Bolin. More slide guitar accents. Lyrics are a bit too prophetic about the excessive drug use that was going on in Purple at the time. (If you fool around with the dealer, Remember soon you'll have to pay). That's Bolin singing on the bridge: (In the beginning all you wanted, was the calm before the storm . . .) Another improvisational guitar solo from Bolin.

I Need Love (4:23) Interesting melodic hook to hold together a very simple rhythm. Another mid tempo funky groove from Paice. More slide fills from Bolin — are we sick of it yet? Tension builds as Coverdale sings (Your body was honey, I tasted a lot.) Released in the chorus, (I need love!) Interesting guitar work throughout from Bolin.

Drifter (4:02) An energetic track featuring a good riff and a lot of guitar work. One of Tommy's best solos on the album, featuring all of his trademarks and pet licks. Song takes a slow breakdown around 2:40 for the requisite slide solo.

Love Child (3:08) A slow heavy number featuring the best and heaviest guitar riff on the album. A track worthy of Purple's hard rock legacy. Coverdale is wonderful on this. I feel this is one of the best vocal moments in his career. Song gets into a funkier, but still heavy groove around 1:50 and Lord takes a Moog solo.

This Time Around (3:16) Quite a departure here, this song features John Lord and Glenn Hughes. Quite beautiful, and unlike anything on any previous Deep Purple album. Just keys and vocals.

Owed To "G" (Instrumental) (2:50). Inspired by Gershwin (the "G,") this instrumental number segues right in from This Time Around and feels like the second part of the same song. This part brings in Paice and Bolin. A very strong workout from Bolin here. Great melody. Great solo. Song breaks down into a stop-start rhythm around 5:15

You Keep On Moving (5:19) The best track on the album. For me, this song stands toe-to-toe with any Deep Purple song of any era. Not so much for the guitarwork which is rather minimal and very effective but for the composition, the dynamics, and the vocals. Glenn Hughes still closes most of his shows with this song. The first time I heard Glenn and David singing together on this through headphones, I almost came in my pants. Here, instead of a "David song," or a "Glenn song," we get both singers at their complementary best. The harmonies are brilliant and wonderful, as they had been all over the Stormbringer album.

Summary

Racked by egos, stylistic schisms, and drug abuse, this band never realized their considerable musical potential. Under the right circumstances, the Mk IV period of Deep Purple could have been incredible. It's a testament to the band's talent that Come Taste the Band is as good as it is, because by the time the album was released, Deep Purple was a band that was coming apart at the seams. Had they called this band anything but Deep Purple, they might have had a chance at success. But saddled with Deep Purple's name and musical legacy, the band soon found they couldn't please a fanbase that still wanted them to put out Machine Head over and over again.

The actual Mk IV period lasted just over a year. Bolin was officially named the guitarist in June of 1975. This album was released in November of 1975. It reached #19 in UK, #11 in Sweden, #5 in Norway and #43 in US. However, it didn't stay on the charts very long. Come Taste the Band found Coverdale, Bolin, and especially Hughes, taking Purple further and further away from their signature rock sound toward a more funky, soulful sound. Most Deep Purple fans didn't know what to make of it. The tours in the winter of 75 and the spring of 76 were inconsistent and often disappointing. A listen to any live recordings from the Mk. IV era usually finds Jon Lord covering Bolin's ass as he often butchered the Mk. II and Mk. III material as if he couldn't even remember the parts. He'd then play fine on the material he'd co-written and was interested in. The band announced their official break up in July of 1976. Tommy Bolin died on December 4th 1976 from multiple drug intoxication.

To this day, Come Taste the Band remains a polarizing album. People either love it, or they hate it. There's little middle ground. The lines are very clearly drawn. Many diehard Blackmore fans feel — in their most charitable moments, that Tommy Bolin was the wrong replacement for Blackmore. Other fans feel that the Deep Purple sound is In Rock, Machine Head, and maybe Burn — but they don't want any more diversity than that in their Purple. Conversely, people who like musical diversity tend to be more receptive to Come Taste the Band. You'll have to decide which camp you're in. This album doesn't feature Bolin's best guitar work, but he delivers a good all-around performance. Beyond that, you'll find some strong, stylistically diverse songs, uniformly excellent vocals — some of the finest of David Coverdale's whole career, a great rhythm section, and Jon Lord's omnipresent B3, reminding you that for a time — like it or not — this was Deep Purple.

Related / Also Recommended:

Deep Purple Mk III

  • Burn - V V V V V
  • Stormbringer - V V V V v

Deep Purple Mk IV

  • This Time Around Live in Tokyo 1975 - V V V V
  • King Biscuit Flower Hour [LIVE] - V V V V

Glenn Hughes

Tommy Bolin

By Dinosaur David B. Copyright ©2006 All rights reserved.