Deep Purple - Burn
On February 15, 1974, "Burn", the eighth studio album of "Deep Purple", was released.
How many bands that you know have managed to change both their line-ups and musical style and still remain relevant? Now multiply that by two and try to think of a band that has done it not once but twice and despite the drastic changes in style and lineup has managed to retain its audience and produce masterpiece after masterpiece album.
So, "Deep Purple" is one of those magical bands that can make you fall in love with Hard Rock, Heavy Metal, Psychedelia, Pop, Blues, Soul, Boogie, Funk, Progressive and even Classical music, no matter if they present it with screams, whispers, falsetto, clean, rough or sweet.
On February 15, 1974 "Deep Purple" did it again, with its third lineup MKIII and with the album designed to "burn" everything known before and start all over again.
Before we tell how it was all started, it is very important to understand how the previous round ended.
It's not new that the MKII lineup has never been stable. The tensions between the band members have always been there and it just increased after the band released "Machine Head", in March 1972. These tensions culminated during the recording of "Who Do We Think We Are", mainly between Ian Gillan and Ritchie Blackmore. The two were so conflicted that they did not even want to be in the same space together. Gillan, could no longer stand the friction and announced that he is retiring from the band. His last performance with the band was held on July 29, 1973, in Osaka, Japan. Bassist Roger Glover who was very close to Gillan, left the band immediately after him. After Glover heard of the ultimatum Blackmore had given to drummer Ian Paice and keyboardist Jon Lord, saying it was either him or Roger Glover, he immediately retired from the band, not giving Blackmore the satisfaction from his dismissal.
Right after Glover and Gillan left, the band began locating their replacements. The intention was to recruit Glenn Hughes as a singer. Hughes was the bassist of "Trapeze" and members of "Deep Purple" became acquainted with him during the tour of the two bands in the US. Hughes accepted the invitation to serve as a singer and bassist, but soon members of "Deep Purple" realized They need a dominant and charismatic frontman like Ian Gillan, who will focus solely on singing. The band members made it clear to Glenn Hughes that he would serve as the band bassist and secondary singer, while continuing to look for a lead singer. Names like Paul Rodgers and even our Danny Shushan being thrown into the air as potential replacements for Ian Gillan.
At the same time, a man called David Coverdale, who worked as a salesman in a clothing store, notices an ad in the Melody Maker newspaper. The ad stated that "Deep Purple" is auditioning for a singer to replace Ian Gillan. Coverdale has known "Deep Purple" since 1969. When he was 18 he served as the lead singer of "The Government", which warmed up "Deep Purple" in one of its shows. After much pleas from the employees in the store, David Coverdale decided to try his luck and send a demo tape to "Deep Purple's" management. He did not expect a response and years later he even admitted that the recording was horrible. He recorded while being drunk and thought he sounded simply bad. Apparently the members of "Deep Purple" remembered Coverdale's youthful grace from the positive impression they had back in 1969, or they actually knew how to recognize the talent even through the poor recording. Shortly afterwards David Coverdale was invited to come to London to audition in the studio in front of the band. After the audition, David Coverdale received a message saying he was accepted. He did not believe it. It was a dream come true for an anonymous guy like him.
Coverdale, was unfamiliar with "Deep Purple's" repertoire, so he was forced to learn all of the band's material, while working on his appearance, since he was then chubby and completely different from the rock star image he has today. At the same time, the band members began working on new material for the album.
This album brought a great change in the band's sound, when the basic Hard Rock got an addition of Blues, Soul, Funk and Boogie. Hughes and Coverdale were an integral part of the writing process, but the early release of the album did include writing credit to Glenn Hughes, due to previous contractual obligations. The change in sound is attributed, among other things, to Glenn Hughes' incredible bass work that brought a lot of Funk and Soul filled with slaps, hammer-ons, pull-offs and "wah wah" effect. Another main influence on the sound is attributed to the expansion of Jon Lord's toolkit which was added by the awesome "ARP Odyssey" synthesizer. Above all it was of course the vocal collaboration between Coverdale and Hughes, who together dominate a crazy vocal range.
On this album "Deep Purple" simply reinvented itself. It proved that it is a formidable band with a burning soul that is far beyond the artists who make it.
Such amazing songs could be found on this album. The opening track "Burn" with Ritchie Blackmore's immortal riff, Ian Paice's powerful drumming (wow what a drummer) and the energy exploding everywhere. Ritchie Blackmore's melodic-classic solos, Jon Lord's whipping Hammond and this amazing combination of Coverdale and Hughes that just complement each other. This song is so awesome!!!!!!!! that we even ignore the fact that it's riff was "borrowed" from the Gershwin brothers' "Fascinating Rhythm", from the 1920s. This song is so powerful that it served as the opening track in most of "Deep Purple's" MKII lineup shows, taking the premiere from "Highway Star".
"Might Just Take Your Life" with it's scents of blues is an amazing proof of the all-too-correct choice of "Deep Purple" picking Hughes and Coverdale as their lead singers. David Coverdale's voice is stronger, deeper and more masculine and blends well with the bluesy groove of the song, while Hughes' voice is high and powerful designed to help Coverdale at the high notes and complement his vocal range so that it more closely resembles of that of Ian Gillan. The modulation at about 2:30 minutes is just so beautiful. Glenn Hughes aligns with the new and higher tone. Jon Lord's solo accompany us to the end of the song with the Hammond sound produced by connecting the organ through a Leslie speaker , just pure musical beauty.
Then there's the Funky and cool "Sail Away". It has a slow and weary bass riff and a great sound that at times is reminiscent of the way "Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow" will sound a few years later, with "Stargazer", especially in Ritchie Blackmore's amazing solo that accompanies us at the end of the song. How great David Coverdale sounds here in the low tones. He is simply a tremendous singer with a unique and mesmerizing voice. And there's Ian Paice's amazing drumming in the famous "You Fool No One" and of course the immortal "Mistreated" - a Blues-Rock masterpiece with the iconic and sweeping riff that Blackmore wrote during the "Machine Head", recruiting Coverdale to write the lyrics.
The album also includes the instrumental track "A200". a symphonic piece with touches of prog, led by Jon Lord's amazing keyboard work. And for those who are wondering what the "A200" means, then this is a shampoo for treating lice, yes, yes.
After it's release, the album received mixed reviews, most of which praised the new and melodic sound. This album was of course a great success, it jumped to third place in the English charts and to the ninth place in the American Billboard 200, while in countries like Germany, Austria, Norway and Denmark it occupies the top of the charts. "Burn" undoubtedly set a very high standard for the MKIII lineup, a very high starting point that this amazing lineup will have a hard time recreating later.