Wednesday, May 9, 2012

A Bitter Taste

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.