After ‘Burn’, Deep Purple went right back in the studio and recorded their second album together with the Mark III line-up. The album was released in November 1974 just nine months after ‘Burn’. ‘Stormbringer’ is the bands 9th album and actually ended marking the end of an era for the band which will discuss shortly.
The album cover is a great picture of a tornado with a pegasus riding in with the storm. The cover is based on a photo by Lucille Handberg which was taken back on July 8th of the year 1927 in the town of Jasper, Minnesota. The picture stretches out to the back cover to show the immense size of the storm. The intenseness of the album cover; doesn’t necessarily translate to the music.
The sound of the album is a continuation of ‘Burn’, but not near the intensity. There seem to push the Blues and Funk and lot more on this one much to the dismay of its leader Ritchie Blackmore. Ritchie was so displeased with the direction of the band that after this album, Ritchie left ending the era of the Mark III phase of Coverdale, Hughes, Lord, Paice and Blackmore. I find this funny considering David Coverdale and Glenn Hughes were both brought in by Ritchie to explore a new sound and direction for the band. I guess sometimes be careful what you wish for.
When you compare it ‘Burn’, the album falls short for me. It lacks the fire of that album and it is missing some of what made ‘Burn’ so great. The jam sessions that seemed to fill ‘Burn’ with Jon Lord’s organ playing and Ian Paice’s blistering drum fills were glaringly absent to me. There was so much less focus on these two parts of the puzzle that it left me wanting and empty. I came out a little bored and I can see why Ritchie was displeased with this effort. There are some great songs on here, no doubt, but the overall feel of the album was less than and that was disappointing to me.
Okay, let’s get to the music…
The opening track is “Stormbringer” which is a great way to open the album. The song might not be as fierce as “Burn”, but it still packs a punch. David is killing it on vocals and sounds as tough as ever. Ritchie’s guitar work is stellar, Jon’s keyboards shine throughout and the rhythm section of Hughes and Paice keep the song moving with a nice groove. The song is probably the most rocking song on the album and is more of what I expect and hope from the band. Ritchie has a nice long solo that might be the best on the album. Hughes vocal’s are mostly background on this one.
Now there is some gibberish nonsense at the beginning of the song by David that you can barely hear. It turns out to be the same backwards dialogue that Linda Blair’s character speaks in the movie ‘The Exorcist’…cool fact for you (thanks to wikipedia and a Glenn Hughes interview).
“Love Don’t Mean a Thing” is up next and David opens with a very sensual and sexual tone. It has a funky ass groove with Hughes bass and even the guitar sounds funky. It is quite a change of pace from the opening track. Glenn takes over a verse and chugs along with a funk filled breakdown in the middle. The two sharing vocals is always a good thing. Coverdale and Hughes seem to be on the same musical page.
Glenn takes over all singing duties on the next track with “Holy Man”. A much slower song and Hughes is the shining voice and shows why he was brought in to the group. However, I am not a huge fan of the song. It sounds great when he goes in to the bridge and the chorus, but overall left me feeling like something was missing. Some heart and soul, something didn’t connect with me.
Thankfully we are saved with “Hold On”. The chorus has a fullness with layers of vocals mixed in to make it sound huge. The song is not as rocking and has more of a pop feel and Jon Lord’s keyboards are the main drivers. Coverdale and Hughes share vocals again and play off each other nicely. I think Hughes bass on this one is great as well as you can hear some nice bass lines thrown in for effect. This is one of the more fun songs on the album.
Another classic song is the opener to Side II called “Lady Double Dealer”. Now this is more like it. This has all the rock elements I love about Deep Purple and would have fit nicely on ‘Burn’. It is high energy, some awesome Blackmore riffs and David sounding as cool as ever.
“You Can’t Do It Right (With the One You Love)” goes back to a funk rock sound. The bass and guitar licks have that funk crunch to it. Jon Lord does have a great keyboard solo which is for me is needed as there haven’t been enough of him with standout moments. Dave and Glenn are sharing the vocals again with Glenn being the one that fits the song the best.
And thankfully we get another rock song right after called “High Ball Shooter”. This one is in David’s wheelhouse as is a little bluesy with a double dose of rock. Now Glenn is no slouch on this either. He adds his flare and that voice is undeniably great. The best part is Jon Lord and his frantic keyboard playing as he gets a stellar opportunity for a solo. Honestly, this sounds like an early Whitesnake song to me.
“The Gypsy” is up next is more a mid-tempo song with some great harmonies between David and Glenn as well as on the guitars. Blackmore has a masterful, yet reserved solo and that steady riff throughout is the driving force to keeping the song moving forward. A very underrated and understated song.
The album ends with a blues, guitar-driven ballad, “Soldier of Fortune”. David sings this one by himself and he sings in such a mournful way it is actually almost too much. It is somewhat mostly acoustic and has become a classic Deep Purple song, so much so that David has often performed it with Whitesnake.
- Stormbringer – Keeper
- Love Don’t Mean A Thing – Keeper
- Holy Man – Delete
- Hold On – Keeper
- Lady Double Dealer – Keeper
- You Can’t Do It Right (With the One You Love) – Keeper
- High Ball Shooter – Keeper
- The Gypsy – Keeper
- Soldier of Fortune – Keeper
Now the track score is more impressive than it should be. I like all the songs, I just don’t think they are as good as the songs on ‘Burn’. The Track Score is 8 out 9 Songs or 89% which is pretty good. The only one I didn’t dig is “Holy Man” as it doesn’t fit with the Deep Purple sound for me.
The overall Rating is not going to be as good as ‘Burn’. I am going to rate this one 3.5 out 5.0 Stars as it just misses the mark for me. I see Ritchie’s point in not liking the direction of the album as there was too much funk and the songs didn’t have the bite they used to, but it is still a very good album. I also think it needed more Ian Paice elements as he seem to be reserved on this album. And of course, there is not enough Jon Lord. I miss those little jam sessions we got on the earlier release.
Thanks for stopping by. Let me know what you think and I hope you come back again for the next one in the series.
Up next…Deep Purple’s “Come Taste the Band”.
The David Coverdale Series:
- Deep Purple – Burn
- Deep Purple – Stormbringer
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)