In the early 1970s, Deep Purple was one of the biggest hard rock bands in the world. In fact, it’s likely there would be more than a few people who would go so far as to say the biggest hard rock band in the world.
But, like so many bands before or since, reaching the pinnacle of success in the music biz just wasn’t conducive to good relationships between the band members. So, at the peak of their commercial and critical success, vocalist Ian Gillan and bassist Roger Glover — the two new guys who helped the band reach superstar status — quit the band in mid-1973 and left two openings to fill yet again.
Enter bassist/vocalist Glenn Hughes, and vocalist David Coverdale.
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I believe it was Arthur Lee, the leader of the 1960s-era American band Love that said something along the lines of “every time you change a player, you change another instrument.” This became immediately evident when the new version of Deep Purple (referred to as Mark III by fans) released the album Burn in 1974. The presence of Hughes and Coverdale modified Deep Purple’s established sound by bringing blues and funk elements into the existing hard rock format.
This new mixture proved to be quite potent; Burn is considered by many to be one of Deep Purple’s finest albums. The opening track, “Burn,” and the slow blues “Mistreated” are just two highlights on an album that boasts 7 out of 8 outstanding songs (the instrumental that closes the album, “A200,” is nothing special). Having survived another reinventing of themselves, things were looking up yet again for Deep Purple.
Unfortunately, their follow-up album Stormbringer was just OK, having little in the way of strong material, and founding member/lead guitarist Ritchie Blackmore quit. He was replaced by Tommy Bolin, who contributed to one decent-in-spots album, Come Taste the Band. Unfortunately, he was unreliable on tour due to his drug habit, and the band called it quits in early 1976, issuing a single LP live album called Made in Europe, taken from recordings of Blackmore’s final tour with the band the previous year.
So, between 1968 and 1976, Deep Purple recorded about twelve albums (not counting 1969’s Concerto for Group and Orchestra) with three different line ups (or four? Ian Gillan doesn’t count Come Taste the Band as a Deep Purple album). That’s possibly where the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame people are having trouble. After all, which version of Deep Purple gets into the Hall of Fame — and for what reasons?
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