Come Taste The Band
Warner Brothers, 1975
REVIEW BY: Ben McVicker
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 07/17/2008
Arguably the most maligned effort in Deep Purple’s catalogue, Come Taste The Band is an album that tends to leave most fans divided. The thought of a Purple lineup without Ritchie Blackmore must have seemed even more sacrilege in 1975 than it does today, given that he was still playing hard rock back then. What’s more, David Coverdale and Glenn Hughes had taken such a leading role in the band’s sound by this point, the whole album is saturated and oozing with ‘70s funk and disco vibes. It’s no wonder that some of the traditionalists among Purple fans have nicknamed this one Come Disgrace The Band.
Come Taste The Band has always remained something of a guilty pleasure to my ears. While there are no riffs to match “Burn” on this album, the new recruit on guitar, Tommy Bolin, nonetheless steals the show. His lead playing is more fluid and inspired than much of the stuff Blackmore churned out on the previous two Coverdale / Hughes records. And what tone! Fans of Bolin’s work with Billy Cobham, and his two solo albums Teaser and Private Eyes, will devour this album. From the cosmic kick-off of “Comin’ Home” to the funk groove of “I Need Love,” Bolin is all over this record. It’s a far cry from the sort of first-take, riff-based blues rock that Blackmore brought to the group, but hot damn, does he ever have a great energy about his playing. Bolin’s performance alone makes this album worth at least a few listens, which is more than you can say for 1987’s The House of Blue Light.
Granted, some spots are hopelessly dated or out of place in Deep Purple’s arsenal of sounds. Jon Lord’s solo on “Love Child,” for instance, is so drenched in wah and effects, it sounds like something out of a ‘70s porn soundtrack. Likewise, “Gettin’ Tighter” features an ill-timed breakdown into a horrendous funk jam about in, derailing an otherwise fine rocker into a disorganized mess. “Lady Luck,” meanwhile, is a blueprint for the sort of cock-rock swagger that Coverdale would make a career out of in Whitesnake. Whether it’s a cool novelty or a morbid curiosity to hear the likes of Bolin and Hughes reduced to playing this kind of material, it’s the listener’s decision.
These missteps aside, I would argue that Come Taste The Band is actually the most consistent of the DP albums with the duo of Coverdale / Hughes on vocals. There are more quality songs on this disc than you’ll find on Burn and Stormbringer put together. This disc lacks a hit tune along the lines of “Burn” or “Might Just Take Your Life,” but the meditative lyrics and tasteful guitar licks of a tune like “You Keep On Moving” more than compensate for this. There is a focus and coherency about this lineup that was never quite there with the previous lineup. Come Taste The Band isn’t particularly good as a Deep Purple album, but as a slice of 7’0s funk-rock, it’s got some fantastic moments.