Ranking the Discography: Deep Purple Part IX: Stormbringer (1974)

Before I start this review, I want to correct something from the previous review. I’d totally messed up and gave some inaccurate info on the vocals. I don’t know how I did this, as I’ve listened to bands that Coverdale and Hughes fronted after Deep Purple, including Whitesnake and Black Country Communion. I’ll try better this time.

Stormbringer is named after a magical sword that appears in books by Michael Moorcock. This makes Deep Purple one of three bands that have referenced his works (the other ones are Hawkwind and Blue Öyster Cult). Three singles were released: “You Can’t Do It Right” , “Lady Double Dealer”, and “Stormbringer”. The album reached #6 in the UK and 20 in the US. After this album, Blackmore formed Rainbow, which he initially intended to be a side project. However, Coverdale and Hughes stayed for one more album.

Members:

  1. “Stormbringer”: Although I haven’t read any Moorcock books, I thought this was an awesome opener. The vocals are really good, and I like Hughes’ higher range. Paice’s drumming is intense.
  2. “Love Don’t Mean a Thing”: Blackmore and Lord do some great instrumentation for a good funky tune.
  3. “Holy Man”: Hughes really gets a chance to shine by himself. Lord has some excellent keyboarding. Another one of my favorites.
  4. ” Hold On”: This one is decent, with a good bass line
  5. “Lady Double Dealer”: This is a fun song. It’s too bad Blackmore doesn’t like the funk elements Hughes and Coverdale brought in, because they sound great. Hughes has a great wail on this.
  6. ” You Can’t Do It Right (With the One You Love) “: A good blues feel on this one.
  7. ” High Ball Shooter”: My third favorite song on the album. Hughes and Blackmore have great synergy.
  8. “The Gypsy”: For some reason, this song didn’t work for me.
  9. “Soldier of Fortune”: This is a good closer, and Coverdale sounds good.

Final Verdict: Of the two albums featuring Hughes and Coverdale, I like this one best. The band has better synergy than they did on Burn. It’s a shame this is the end of Mark III.

Grade: A-

Ranking the Discography: Deep Purple Part II: The Book of Taliesyn

The Book of Taliesyn was named after the 14th century book of the same name. That book was a collection of poems by Taliesin, a poet from the 6th century. Two singles were released, “Kentucky Woman” and ” River Deep, Mountain High”. The album reached #54 on the Billboard 200.

Members:

Rod Evans – lead vocals

Ritchie Blackmore – guitar

Jon Lord – Hammond organ, keyboards, backing vocals, strings arrangement on “Anthem”

Nick Simper – bass, backing vocals

Ian Paice – drums, temple blocks

The Tracks:

1. “Listen, Learn, Read On”

This opening doesn’t grab me. I do like Evans’ vocals.

2. “Wring That Neck”

This is a pretty cool instrumental. Lord’s keyboard is fantastic. The song is called “Hard Road” on the American release.

3. “Kentucky Woman”

As with the previous album, there are 3 covers. This one was originally by Neil Diamond. It’s pretty decent.

4. “We Can Work It Out”

The second cover is a Beatles song. It’s kind of boring.

5. “Shield”

Oddly the second side of the album is better than the first. This song rocks. Blackmore sounds great.

6. “Anthem”

Probably my favorite song on the album. It’s got a great string section.

7. “River Deep, Mountain High”

A pretty awesome cover of the Tina Turner song.

Final Verdict: I’m beginning to see why the Rod Evans-led Deep Purple isn’t as highly regarded. This is pretty good, but knowing what comes later, I’m not overly impressed.

Grade: C+

Ranking the Discography: Deep Purple Part VI: Machine Head (1972)

Machine Head is Deep Purple’s most iconic album. It had 4 singles: “Never Before” , “Lazy”, “Highway Star”, and “Smoke on the Water”. It went straight to #1 in the UK and #7 in the U.S. In the US, it’s certified double Platinum. It’s featured in Robert Dimery’s book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.

Members:

Ian Gillan: vocals, harmonica

Ritchie Blackmore: guitar

Roger Glover: bass

Jon Lord: keyboards, organ

Ian Paice: drums and percussion

The Tracks:

  1. “Highway Star”–What an opener! Jon Lord is on fire on the keyboards, and the bass line is so chunky! Gillan is wailing!
  2. ” Maybe I’m a Leo”–Incidentally, Gillan is a Leo. 😏 All kidding aside, this song slays. Glover was inspired by John Lennon’s “How Do You Sleep”.
  3. ” Pictures of Home”–This is a song Blackmore refused to perform live. The lyrics are about Gillan’s homesickness while on tour.
  4. “Never Before”–The only single I don’t like. Paice does some great drumming, though.
  5. ” Smoke on the Water “–This song is about the recording of the album in the Grand Hotel in Montreux, Switzerland, and the evacuation of its casino after a concert by the Mothers of Invention, which resulted in a fire. Everybody brings their A game to this track. It’s my favorite song on the album.
  6. ” Lazy”–There’s nothing “lazy” about this one! It’s a straight bluesy tune with a great keyboard intro from Lord.
  7. “Space Truckin'”–Fun fact: this song was used as a wake-up call for Space shuttle program Flight STS-107 in 2003. I like the sci-fi feel to the lyrics.

Final Verdict: The album deserves its iconic status. Almost every song is a banger. In fact, this is the album that made me want to do this series.

Grade: A+

Ranking the Discography: Deep Purple Part 1: Shades of Deep Purple

Deep Purple formed in 1968, originally named Roundabout. Ritchie Blackmore suggested the name Deep Purple, after his grandmother’s favorite song. The original line-up consisted of:

Rod Evans – lead vocals

Ritchie Blackmore – guitars

Jon Lord – organ, backing vocals

Nick Simper – bass, backing vocals

Ian Paice – drums

The album was produced by Derek Lawrence.

The Tracks:

1. “And the Address”

This instrumental was the first song the band ever composed. Both Blackmore and Lawrence had composed the song before the band was even formed. It has some good moments.

2. “Hush”

This song was originally recorded by Billy Joel Royal. Lord is great on the organ. This is the best cover on the album.

3. “One More Rainy Day”

This was the B-side for “Hush”, and the last song recorded for the album. Evans, has good vocals here.

4. “Prelude: Happiness/I’m So Glad”

One of the most boring songs on the album. I get it, Evans, you’re glad! Now maybe you could actually show it?

5. “Mandrake Root”

Like “And the Address” , this song was written before the band was even formed. It’s the best song on the album, with some excellent drumming from Paice.

6. “Help!”

This is not only the worst cover on the album, it’s the worst song period! “Help!” id supposed to be a fast song, but they play it like the recording was slowed down to at least half the normal speed.

7. “Love Help Me”

This isn’t bad, but I feel like it could be better.

8. “Hey Joe”

How many times has this song been covered? I’m not saying this is a bad cover (it isn’t), but knowing that the song’s been done so many times kind of ruins the enjoyment.

Final Verdict:

Well, I suppose they had to start somewhere. A friend of mine told me the Rod Evans era isn’t all that great, and I can see his point. The band does show promise, though.

Grade: C+