Deep Purple

3.5 out of 5 stars
Reviewed for Coffeerooms by Mike Jefferson

No, I'm not obsessed with Ritchie Blackmore, it just seems that way. There's been some overhauling of Blackmore's Night and Deep Purple's catalogues of late, and it just so happens Ritchie's the guy plucking the stings on most of the albums.

EMI has reissued 1974's "Stormbringer," the last album to feature Blackmore as a purple people eater for nearly ten years. (Blackmore reenlisted in a reconstituted version of Deep Purple Mark II featuring his nemesis, singer Ian Gillan, in 1984. His unresolved power struggle with Gillan caused Blackmore to leave the group permanently in 1993.) "Stormbinger" was a significant step forward for the band, which began to dance away from Blackmore's heavy metal mantle toward an R&B flavored sound favored by the group's frontmen, David Coverdale and Glenn Hughes.

Wait a minute...Did he just say David Coverdale? Yes, there was a time Coverdale's bluesy vocals could actually move people, a time when he wasn't considered a wavy-maned screeching narcissist beating his chest in some of the cheesiest MTV videos ever screened. Yes, before Coverdale went Spinal Tap, he was Deep Purple's salvation.

Coverdale and bassist/singer Glenn Hughes joined the band in 1973, following the "resignation" (ouster) of bassist Roger Glover and shrieking vocalist Ian Gillan. Ironically, Glover and Gillan had joined the band in 1969 as replacements for lead singer Rod Evans and bassist Nicky Simper. Evans and Simper had just completed work on Deep Purple's self-titled third album when they were pink slipped by the band's management -- unaware that the rest of the group had secretly been rehearsing with Glover and Gillan. After four tumultuous albums with the self-centered Gillan, Blackmore gave the band an "it's him or me" ultimatum. By this time, founding members Ian Paice (drums) and Jon Lord (keyboards) weren't exactly enamored of the posturing Gillan either, so they voted to jettison him and tossed Glover on the wood pile for good measure.