Deep Purple’s ‘Stormbringer’ was released to ever declining audiences, and the subsequent tour was Blackmore’s last, his disgust at Purple’s now polished sound all too apparent.
Written by: Dangerzone
ARTIST: Deep Purple
SERIAL: TPS 3508
CD REISSUE: Discogs Reissue List
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: England Flag
LINEUP: David Coverdale – vocals * Ritchie Blackmore – guitar * Glenn Hughes – vocals, bass * Ian Paice – drums * Jon Lord – keyboards
TRACK LISTING: 01 Stormbringer * 02 Love Don’t Mean A Thing * 03 Holy Man * 04 Hold On * 05 Lady Double Dealer * 06 You Can’t Do It Right (With The One You Love) * 07 High Ball Shooter * 08 The Gypsy * 09 Soldier Of Fortune
WEBLINKS: Site Link
After a massively successful world tour in support of ‘Burn’, Deep Purple Mk 3 found themselves quickly back in the studio in an attempt to capitalise on their status as one of the biggest hard rock acts of the time. Things were far from perfect as Blackmore quickly came to detest Hughes’ insistence of adding funk elements into Purple’s sound, deriding it as ‘shoeshine’ music.
More importantly Blackmore had been discussing a solo project with Ronnie Dio of Elf, who had opened for Deep Purple on a mini tour of the US in the summer of 1974. With Blackmore’s lessened interest, ‘Stormbringer’ featured two songs without his name on the credits, a first, and was decidedly less heavy than previous albums.
The music was still first rate, Coverdale and Hughes quickly becoming the face of Purple (with Hughes recently stating Paice and Lord loved the funk aspect), resulting in an album very much the equal of ‘Burn’ and any Mk 2 effort.
If the likes of Montrose and Kiss had brought American hard rock to the forefront then Deep Purple were certainly keeping the British contingent up there with them.
The title track is as stunning in its own way as ‘Speed King’ was four years earlier, very advanced for the time, another high point of 70’s heavy metal, with fantasy lyrics and imagery (witness the cover art) and a mighty, driving riff from Blackmore. I’m convinced Steve Harris pillaged the melody of this for Iron Maiden‘s ‘Wrathchild’.
After such a menacing opener the shift into the blues based funk of ‘Love Don’t Mean A Thing’ seems startling, but Coverdale pulls off the vocals in such a cool manner, that it sounds tangible. If the melody is there, no problem.
The melancholy ‘Holy Man’ is even more of a u-turn, a near ballad, with gentle guitar work and a superb vocal display from Hughes solo. It is noticeable that the lessening of overall heaviness diluted the power of Paice’s drumming. Quite brilliant is ‘Hold On’ (the second consecutive track without Blackmore’s name), a subtle blues number with a memorable hook and an inspired Blackmore solo.
More traditional is the frantic ‘Lady Double Dealer’, ribald hard rock that Coverdale would come to eat up for breakfast in Whitesnake. This is the Deep Purple most wanted to hear, Coverdale stealing the show, up there with Gillan any day.
‘You Can’t Do It Right’ returns to the funk style, but again shines thanks to some sleek harmonies and some heavier excursions following the hook. Paice unleashes upon his kit late on, perhaps frustrated by the lack of opportunity so far.
‘High Ball Shooter’ has Coverdale written all over it through lyrics like ‘Well I’m a rock n preacher, not a Sunday school teacher’, the song itself another basic rocker which pushes the dual vocal aspect between Coverdale and Hughes too far, both seemingly fighting to be heard.
‘The Gypsy’ is very atmospheric, due to Blackmore’s guitar work, evoking a middle ages type deal, a precursor to Rainbow‘s debut a year later. This direction is strengthened by ‘Soldier Of Fortune’ an acoustic ballad, with touching vocals from Coverdale.
As this was my first experience with Deep Purple, ‘Stormbringer’ holds somewhat of a nostalgic place for me, and I still regard it more highly than ‘Fireball’ or ‘Machine Head’, although I’m sure many would disagree. As great as Mk 2 were, the Mk3 version grasped melody in a more accessible sense as they weren’t as heavy as their predecessors on studio records.
Live they definitely matched Mk 2, as recordings like ‘Made In Europe, ‘Live In London’ and ‘California Jam 1974’ prove. ‘Stormbringer’ was released to ever declining audiences, and the subsequent tour was Blackmore’s last, his disgust at Deep Purple’s now polished sound all too apparent. He made way for Tommy Bolin and perhaps the finest Purple album of all, ‘Come Taste The Band’.
Stormbringer (Live Australia, Sunbury)