Review Summary: One of the most underrated rock albums of the 70's
1975: Led Zeppelin released their classic Physical Graffiti album, Pink Floyd gave us Wish You Were Here, Sabbath released the most underrated album of the Ozzy era (Sabotage) and Deep Purple gave us the extremely under appreciated Come Taste The Band album. These along with many other rock classics made 1975 a year to remember, especially if you were a classic rock fan.
In spring 1975 Deep Purple were faced with the impossible task of replacing one of the most influential guitarists in rock. Following the release of previous album, the slightly disappointing Stormbringer, long-term guitarist Ritchie Blackmore left the band to form Rainbow with former ELF vocalist Ronnie James Dio. It would appear that the guitarist’s main reason for leaving the band was his dissatisfaction with Stormbringer, which he described as “shoeshine music” and even went as far as calling it “crap”. Later that year a replacement was found in the form of American-born guitarist Tommy Bolin who had made his name in the 70’s rock music scene with bands such as Zephyr and The James Gang. With Bolin on board Deep Purple set about recording what would be their tenth studio album, Come Taste The Band.
Deep Purple Mk. IV
Tommy Bolin – Lead Guitar and Vocals
David Cloverdale – Vocals
Glenn Hughes – Bass Guitar and Vocals
Jon Lord – Keyboards
Ian Paice – Drums
Come Taste The Band emerged in October (1975) and saw no real departure from the sound evident on the band’s two previous albums recorded with the Mk. III line up. The funk elements brought to the band by David Coverdale and Glenn Hughes, were still in place as were the aforementioned member’s vocals, although Coverdale performed more than a majority of the vocals this time, with Hughes singing on just three of the album's 9 songs; Gettin’ Tighter, This Time Around and You Keep On Moving. The only really noticeable difference in sound is through Tommy Bolin’s guitar, which is particularly prominent in opening song Comin’ Home. Bolin’s unique style of guitar playing is well suited to the band's funk influced sound providing some tasty licks and impressive solos that remain one of the highlights throughout the album. One thing that is somewhat surprising about Bolin's contributions to the band is how prominent he is as a song writer, being credited for all but two of the album's tracks. It's a bold move for a new member to come in and play such a huge role in the writing process, especially with such big shoes to fill.
Although it may not be on a par with the opening title track from Burn, Comin' Home is a fine opener and sets the tone for the rest of the album. Following track, Lady Luck, is one of the album’s most memorable songs and sees the band remain focussed on the hard rock sound evident on the previous song. In fact this album is overall more hard rock based than the band’s previous album and is perhaps more reminiscent of Burn, which was released a year and a half earlier. That said, the album soon moves into funkier territory with the following track, Gettin’ Tighter, which finds Glenn Hughes singing lead vocals for the first time on the album.
The opening three songs are perhaps three of the strongest and most memorable on the album and in comparison the middle to end of the album feels a bit, well, less memorable. That’s not to say that the rest of the album is without highlights, far from it in fact. Dealer is a solid piece of funk rock that sees a vocal contribution from Bolin and The Drifter features some fine funky guitar lines in which the guitarist manages to complement but not overshadow the rest of the band. The biggest surprise of the album comes in the form of This Time Around, which incorporates an instrumental piece titled Owed To “G”. Complete with some excellent soulfull vocals from Hughes, the piano led This Time Around isn’t your typical Deep Purple song but is possibly the standout track of the album’s second half and is complimented well by the much more upbeat instrumental that follows. The closing track, You Keep Moving is a fairly mellow affair and brings down the curtain nicely featuring the album's first and only vocal duet from Hughes and Coverdale.
All things considered Come Taste The Band is a strong album both in terms of song writing and musicianship and is an overlooked gem in the Deep Purple catalogue. Sadly this would prove to be the one and only album recorded by the Mk. IV lineup and would signal the end of Deep Purple's impressive run as one the most successfull rock bands in the world.