Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Blues Taking Over

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.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The Deepest Purple

When a band loses a key member or members; it usually spells doom for the soldiers who carry on. With Deep Purple losing the wonderful talent in Ian Gillan and dropping Roger Glover; it could easily be concluded that this was just the beginning of the end for one of hottest rock bands of the 1970s. Further proof in the pudding was the choice of replacements in little known David Coverdale and this funky bass player from Trapeze, Glenn Hughes. In fact, the “Burn” cover art with the members’ heads as wax candles could be a symbol for their careers melting away.

However, what we have here is the finest Deep Purple album. The songwriting is top notch and the inclusion of Coverdale and Hughes as vocalist brings a great mix of bluesy and soulful singing. Ritchie Blackmore always had an eye for talent and he didn’t miss here. The title track and the opener is one the best Purple songs. From the insane drumming of Ian Paice to the back and forth solos between Blackmore and keyboardist Jon Lord; this is the definition of a perfect song. The world is also introduced to the blend of Coverdale and Hughes.

The Brits keep the music flowing with the bluesy and slow rocker in “Might Just Take Your Life” which transitions to the walloping guitar riffing in “Lay Down, Stay Down.” The guitar solo is done well with a clean piano in the background to keep the beat. The back and forth between Hughes and Coverdale is also enjoyable as this is one of the standout tracks of the album.

One of the other positives is that each track is unique. “Sail Away” brings a funky edge to the proceedings with the bass riff and the Blackmore closing solo which features many wavy guitar notes sounds similar to Blackmore’s future band Rainbow’s epic “Stargazer.” Another one of the standouts is “What’s Going On Here” which sounds like a barroom rocker as I can see Lord doing the piano part while Coverdale and Hughes are enjoying the devil’s fuel in the background.

A final masterpiece is found with “Mistreated.” This is the only track with a single vocalist as Coverdale takes the helm and delivers his finest Purple performance next to “Soldier of Fortune.” His bluesy voice blends with the depressing riff provided by Blackmore perfectly and the emotional solo drives it home safely. Soothing bass and trembling drums really drive the sad mood it goes for. This is a grade A song from a grade A band.

“Burn” shows how a band can change members and deliver great music. The new blood in Hughes and Coverdale a perfect combination of soul and blues and combined with Blackmore’s trusty guitar wonders makes this an awesome album. My only quip is “You Fool No One” does not fit the Purple mode of hard rock as it is way too funky and groovy. However, the title track is I daresay the best Deep Purple song ever written. Don’t believe me? Just put this song on and feel the “burn.”