This is part of an occasional series of reviews of old albums that played a significant part in my formative years of musical appreciation.
What is rightly regarded as the classic Deep Purple line up fell apart in 1973 after a constant round of management propelled touring recording and touring again proved too much for Ian Gillan and Roger Glover who both quit that year. Their replacements were Glenn Hughes from funked up blues rockers Trapeze, and an unknown blues wailer from the North East of England, one David Coverdale. With this line up in place they had recorded and released Burn by February 1974, a year in which I was a mere 14 and this was my introduction to the "Purps", as they were known.
Although I was later to agree with the majority that the "MkII" line up of Blackmore/Lord/Gillan/Glover/Paice was indeed the best line up of the band, Burn still holds a special place in my aural vista. If you get past the fact that Coverdale was little more than a Percy clone, you have to admit that as a singer he had a better range than Gillan, and although he couldn't match Gillan in the blood-curdling scream department, he still had a good powerful bluesy voice. Glenn Hughes contributes a lot to this album, getting co-writing credits on five of the eight songs, and his funky style is all over songs like Might Just Take Your Life, the barrelhouse funky What's Going On Here, Lay Down Stay Down. Even on Sail Away which is credited to Blackmore & Coverdale, the funky swagger of the backline sounds like it comes from Stevie Wonder on downers, and has Hughes all over it.
The only conventional "Purps" sounding song is the storming opener and title track, which I reckon stands alongside any of their more uptempo MKII efforts. Showpiece song on the album is the seven minute blues Mistreated where Blackmore gets to show his blues chops, and you can almost hear the glove being thrown down to Jimmy Page! Co-written by Blackmore & Coverdale the singer puts in a fine shout too.
A varied if atypical Purps album that still sounds good to these old lugholes, and is well worth investigating. This line up only lasted until Blackmore left in 1975 and produced one more LP at the end of 1974, Stormbringer, which is not a patch on this album.
4 out of 5
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