Welcome to the new series covering the career of the great David Coverdale. We will start off with Deep Purple and then cover his solo work, his work with Jimmy Page and of course, Whitesnake. We have a long journey ahead as we have around 33 albums that we will cover. Sit back and I hope you enjoy the ride…Let’s get started!
Deep Purple – ‘Burn’ (1974):
In 1973, Deep Purple went through yet another line-up change. This one saw the band lose the lead singer, Ian Gillan, and bass player, Roger Glover. And for this time around, Ritchie Blackmore wanted to take the band in a new direction and it was the start of Mark III.
First up he brought in bass player Glenn Hughes and damn the man can sing as well so not a bad pick. Glenn had come from the band Trapeze where he had made a name for himself. But Ritchie wasn’t done.
Ritchie found a pretty unknown singer whose voice he really loved as it had a blues tone to it that spoke to him. That gentleman was none other than David Coverdale. We would all grow to love him from Whitesnake, but every story has a beginning and this is his. With the powerful vocals of Hughes and Coverdale, Deep Purple were set up to do great things. Not only those two great singers, Ritchie still had the amazing Jon Lord on keyboards and Ian Paice on Drums. It is a pretty impressive line-up!
During November 1973, the band set off to Montreux, Switzerland to record the album and they used the Rolling Stones mobile unit for the recording. The album came out on February 15th, 1974. ‘Burn’ had pretty good success reaching #4 in the UK and #9 in the US where it reached Gold Status.
The album I have was proudly owned by a guy named Jimmy as he wrote his name on the album jacket as well as the vinyl label…YEAH!! (It was cheap so I didn’t care and it plays beautifully so what does it matter).
The album still had the album sleeve in all it’s glory…okay not really…I don’t think this sleeve belongs with the album, but at least it had a sleeve.
And if that wasn’t enough, it still had the lyric sheet insert which was in great shape. Despite the writing of the name, Jimmy took care of his album. I will take care of it as well, but I am not adding my name.
Now that only leaves the music to talk about and isn’t that what we are really here for anyway.
The album kicks off with the classic song “Burn”. It opens with a great Ritchie riff and then some mean organ from Jon Lord along with a blistering pace of Paice’s drum (see what I did there). With David and Glenn sharing the heavy lifting on vocals and then both singing the “burn” part you get a masterpiece of a song. Ritchie blasts through a mesmerizing solo and later Lord gets his own and the song ends up blowing you away as it is a beast of an opening track. The guitar riff Ritchie Blackmore does in the song is heavily inspired by the song “Fascinating Rhythm” from 1924 written by George Gershwin if you didn’t know.
Next up we have “Might Just Take a Life”. What I love about these songs is how on 6 tracks David and Glenn share vocal duties as the two compliment each other so well. This song has such a nice sexy groove to it thanks to Glenn’s bass accompanied by Paice’s rhythm on the drums. This was the opening single for the album and a great introduction to the new line-up. What I can’t get over is the pure talent of Lord’s keyboards. He basically steals every song he is highlighted and I forget that Blackmore is even there.
“Lay Down Stay Down” is another killer track with David and Glenn’s vocals battling back and forth. It is high energy, totally fun track and listen to this drum fills by Paice, it is awesome. Blackmore’s solo is crazy and keeps the energy of the song, but brings a slight different feel than the song had and it still works. There is so much music going on it is hard to know what to listen to as it is all so great.
Side 1 ends with what might be the best song on the album, “Sail Away”. That opening funked up bass groove by Glenn Hughes is fucking awesome! I thought I was listening to a Stevie Wonder song there for a second. This type of song is something the old Purple couldn’t have done and is a prime example of why David and Glenn were brought in. Both David and Glenn kill it on vocals David keeps that sexy, deep tone to his voice while Glenn takes it a little higher in range and it just blends perfectly.
With Side one there are two things that standout. The musicianship first and foremost. Not enough could be said to Jon Lord’s talent. The man makes the keyboard speak in such ways that is unmatched by anyone. Ian Paice’s drumming is second to none. His rhythm and his fills are perfect in every way and add so much to each song. They aren’t unnoticed. Glenn’s bass playing is as good as his singing and they don’t call him the Voice of Rock for nothing. And that Ritchie Blackmore is no slouch either as he can take hold of a song and make you forget about everything else.
Now the other thing are the vocals. David’s blues tinged vocals and the control he shows with the songs, his ability to bring the sexy and scream out the rock as well is fun to hear. And then to have Glenn there along the way to get that higher ranger that is so crisp and clear and damn you wonder what would have happened if they were together for more than these handful of albums. Now, let’s get back to the songs…
This side kicks off with “You Fool No One” and man I feel I went back to the 60’s with this one. The coolest thing about this song is it turns in to a masterclass of how to play your instruments. The way Ritchie and Ian play off each other is fun to listen to and I could do it for hours upon hours. The way everyone attacks their instruments and try to one-up each other is what makes this a blast. It is an organized jam session.
“What’s Goin’ On Here” is real bluesy song and Coverdale really shines. There is a cool groove and vibe to the whole song. Now Glenn is no slouch on this one either and I could do a whole series on him as he is so worthy, but this is about David and the sad thing is I can’t focus on David too much because everyone else is so great that I don’t want not talk about all that as it is what I really love about the album.
Another standout track is “Mistreated” which is the only one that is only David Coverdale on vocals. Here you see what Ritchie loved about him. Those blues styled vocals and the way he can bring the emotive feel of the blues is what makes him special. This song was written for the ‘Machine Head’ album, but was held back and then when David got ahold of it and add his lyrics you get a Deep Purple blues classic. The opening riffs and Paice’s bass drum bring that blues feel and then David comes slinking in and it all just sounds beautiful. David brings the feels and Ritchie lets him shine as he is just understating things enough to accompany and not overpower the vocals.
The song is a perfect example of why David was brought in to give the band a new sound and try things they hadn’t done before. The song goes on for over 7 minutes with a slow grinding groove and then as the song nears its end, it starts to build up to a climax. The guitar work gets faster and louder, the drums pound a little more and the keyboard and bass pace picks up to a frenzy and then crashes with David’s final line of “I’ve been losing my mind”.
The album ends with “A 200” which is an instrumental, so no more David and Glenn providing their vocal talents. It is time to be all pure musicianship. Jon Lord, who I think is the shining light of the album, just tears things up and throws so many things at you that you can’t keep up with his magic. The song has a more prog feel and is quite different than the rest of the album. As great as it is, it feels out of place. I still love hearing Jon bringing it and Ritchie rips another great solo, but it messes up the flow of the album.
- Burn – Keeper
- Might Just Take a Life – Keeper
- Lay Down, Stay Down – Keeper
- Sail Away – Keeper
- You Fool No One – Keeper
- What’s Goin’ On Here – Keeper
- Mistreated – Keeper
- “A” 200 – Delete
The track score is 7 out of 8 or 88% as I just had to put delete on “A” 200 as it didn’t fit with the flow of the rest of the album. That is the only drawback. It is still a great song, just out of place.
I know this is the David Coverdale series, but David is only great because of who he surrounds himself with and that has always been great musicians and Deep Purple was some of the best he has ever been around. The musicianship and talent of this band is unparalleled with Ritchie Blackmore, Jon Lord and Ian Paice. And don’t forget the great Glenn Hughes with that bass, but it is his vocals that worked so well with David’s to create a hell of an album and vocal performances. For all these reasons, the album gets a 4.5 out 5.0 Stars with the only detraction being “A” 200. What a way to kick off the series and let me tell you, I am excited to hear what is to come.
Let me know what you think about this album and anything David and company. Thanks for stopping by and hopefully you will hang around for about the next year as we go through some 33+ albums.
Up next…Deep Purple’s “Stormbringer”.
The David Coverdale Series:
- Deep Purple – Burn
Other David Coverdale Albums reviewed – (Box Sets and Bootlegs):
- Whitesnake – 1987 (30th Anniversary Edition) – Box Set
- Whitesnake – Slide It In (35th Anniversary Edition) – Box Set
- Whitesnake – Unzipped – Box Set
- Whitesnake (Snake) – Still Of the Night Live in Battle Creek, Mich. July 26, 1987 (Bootleg)