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Deep Purple

Warner Bros. 2766
Released: March 1974
Chart Peak: #9
Weeks Charted: 30
Certified Gold: 3/20/74

David CoverdaleDeep Purple's first album since last year's departure of original vocalist Ian Gillan and bassist/composer Roger Glover is a passable but disappointing effort. On Burn, new lead singer David Coverdale sounds suitably histrionic, like Free's brilliant Paul Rodgers (rumored to have been Purple's first replacement choice). But the new material is largely drab and ordinary, without the runaway locomotive power of the group's best work.

The title track is a notable exception, attractively energetic, with appropriately speedy breaks. And "Sail Away" is a Free-like mesmerizer. "Mistreated" again sounds like that lamentedly extinct group, but is flaccidly lengthy (7:25).

They fill out the LP with the relentlessly mediocre single "Might Just Take Your Life," the stodgy blues-rocker "What's Goin' On Here," the commonplace Cream-like funk riffs and harmonies of "You Fool No One," and with a tedious Moog/bolero instrumental retread applying the coup de grace. Much of the LP is skillfully wrought and likable, and the new line-up has potential. But the Gillan/Glover spark that created "Highway Star" and other memorable Purple smokers is regrettably absent.

- Ken Barnes, Rolling Stone, 4/25/74.

Bonus Reviews!

I don't like most hard rock, except in small doses, and I never will. But there is a strange comfort about Deep Purple. We must have -- or we are stuck with -- hard rock for a while, I suppose, and as long as we are, I am grateful for Deep Purple. They satisfy their fans, who could do worse and frequently do, and they sometimes get within ten miles of what could be a tune, which is closer than most others.

I am not convinced that Deep Purple take themselves all that seriously. I suspect they enjoy their success and will plumb it for as long as they can get away with it. I am reminded of John Lennon's comment on Picasso, who he guessed had been fooling his fans and deliberately putting out meaningless products that he knew would sell on his name: "He must have been laughing his ass off for the last eighty years." Deep Purple must be having a few giggles.

I can't say that this Purple album is much different from the last, or will be distinguishable from the next. Listening to it is like reading a furniture catalog; unless you're interested in redecorating you can't get enthusiastic over the various sofa models. But everyone needs something to sit down on, just like some folks need hard rock. So viva (conditionally) Deep Purple.

- Joel Vance, Stereo Review, 9/74.

Deep Purple is back after a restructuring, with new lead singer David Coverdale doing a commendable job replacing Ian Gillian. Glenn Hughes also works well on bass and as an added singer. This set varies somewhat from the band's recent efforts, with a little less "pin the people against the wall" music and some interesting blues numbers like "Mistreated." "Burn," the current single, is also a highlight of the album. Many groups lose a lot when two members leave, but Deep Purple are as excellent in their field as ever.

- Billboard, 1974.

Cream was schizophrenic. Like so many Sixties' British bands, they derived their instrumental style from American bluesmen. But they acheived their contemporary sound by recording the rock songs of bassist Jack Bruce. These were painfully humorless compositions, often devoid of intelligible melody, and sung in an oppressive style that overemphasized not just an occasional word, but every word. Cream was one of the most influential of all rock bands, but Bruce may have influenced as many singers as Clapton has guitar players. Many British rock-band vocalists sing (to one extent or another) in that same insensitive manner -- which is why I have trouble listening to some groups whose instrumental work I admire. Deep Purple has been around a long time, but in their current state they perpetuate Cream's schizophrenia. They display considerable command of their instruments (if little originality). But it's wasted behind the caterwauling of new vocalist David Coverdale, who sings some of the most godawful lyrics yet pressed onto vinyl with idiotic seriousness. On the group's behalf I note that they avoid the flip side of the worst of British rock, the wimpoid ballad. In fact, when they are burning instrumentally and everyone sings together (making the words easier to forget) they come up with a handful of acceptable, even pleasurable moments.

- Jon Landau, Rolling Stone, 6/6/74.

First off, I must get something off my chest. Please Mr. Warner Brothers...why was there a Doobie Brothers poster in my Deep Purple album? There, now that it's been said we can get down to business. Another Deep Purple, another day. Dave Coverdale, the new lead singer, sounds a great deal like Rod Evans. Do you remember Rod Evans? He sang the lead on Deep Purple records in the old Tetragramaton days. They tell us that a few months ago Dave Coverdale was a shop assistant, singing for free beers. He must have drunk a lot of beer because this record shows he's done a great deal of singing, if not on stage, then in bathtubs. It seems very obvious that he loves to sing, and he does it very, very well.

Glenn Hughes, the other new Purpler, is a welcome addition. His bass guitar work and vocalization adds yet another level of life to this old and well established band. From the very beginning of the title track "Burn" it seems very evident that Deep Purple has been given a whole new enthusiasm by their personnel changes. Many fans worried when they heard about the departing Glover and Gillan. Soon both names will be foggy and a member of the past, just like Rod Evans. The new Purple sound is a much cleaner, less muddled sound. The vocals are rich and throaty, very soulful, but never really dirty sounding. "Might Just Take Your Life," for instance, is a mid-paced soulful number with a great deal of simple and forceful keyboard work, compliments of old friend Jon Lord, mixed with tight vocal harmonies. It's really very encouraging.

The raw gutsiness of the new Purple sound can only be compared to very early Steve Marriott/Small Faces days. "Lay Down Stay Down" features the distinctive drum technique of Ian Paice, coupled with more of these incredible soul chorus style vocal harmonies. This is beautifully tied together by Blackmore's fine, clean guitar work. None of that onstage simplistic thudding that is so typically Deep Purple is evident here. "Sail Away," side one's closer, is filled with still more vocal excitement. If you were a devotee of Ian Gillan's tuneless, discordant screeching you'll be in for a huge disappointment. What Deep Purple has here is a funky, slightly grittier version of the mid-sixties Walker Brothers sound and it's incredible.

The frenzied, fast-fingered guitar sound of "You Fool No One" coupled with the pulsating, driving rhythms of Hughes' bass start side two off with a vengeance. Though Jon Lord is not as evident on this album as on previous ones there's some lovely piano work in "What's Goin' On Here." Obviously the newness of the other members has pushed them into the foreground; presumably by the next album a balance will be achieved.

Side two peaks with a stunning vocal performance by the young Mr. Coverdale. Heralded by some really neat guitar riffs and the simplicity of the bass drum, the Rod Stewart-like sounds of Coverdale's voice soon majestically fill the room.

A whole new side of Deep Purple is emerging here. No more Black Sabbath sounds of driving furious chaos, instead there's a well tempered, but enthusiastic musician. Deep Purple, totally rejuvenated.

- Janis Schacht, Circus, 6/74.

What can you say about a Deep Purple album that hasn't already been said before? Burn's music is neither a step forward nor a backward for the deafening bunch of thunder-rockers and the standard sounds of Purple are again led by the assaulting waves of Ritchie Blackmore's guitar work. Burn is yet another exercise in exaggerated riffing.

- Ed Naha, Circus, 6/74.

The hot poop is that after ten albums the Purps have a lead singer with soulish roots who can actually write songs. The cold turd is that the music sounds the same, as ominous and Yurupean as a vampire movie, only not as campy. C+

- Robert Christgau, Christgau's Record Guide, 1981.

Burn is Deep Purple's first album with lead singer David Coverdale. While it's not quite up to the standards of Machine Head and Made in Japan, it featured hot riffs and well-constructed heavy rockers to make it a Top Ten success and an album rock favorite. * * *

- Stephen Thomas Erlewine, The All-Music Guide to Rock, 1995.

Considering the circumstances -- Ian Gillan and Roger Glover's departure -- Burn is a remarkable feat, bringing David Coverdale and Glenn Hughes into the group without losing stride. * * * *

- Gary Graff, Musichound Rock: The Essential Album Guide, 1996.

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