Deep Purple: Burn
17/05/12 || Smalley
I know I’m jumping around with my journey through Deep Purple’s disco (cue mirror ball), but there’s a reason for that; I already took care of ”Fireball” a few months back, and Daemo already covered the very good ”Machine head”. Plus, while their next record, 73’s “Who do we think we are”, is still solid due to a few highlights, quality wise, it’s pretty close to the bottom of their body of work. And while I do love some of their psychedelic 60’s records, and fully plan to review them in good time, the hard rock DP created in the 70’s is really what they’re remembered/imitated for, and not that Doors-wannabe material (kidding!).
But besides that, why did I choose “Burn” in particular to skip to, instead of something else? Well, in addition to just being a kick-ass slab of classic rock, a great comeback album, and one of the band’s finest moments, it also heralded a major turning point in DP’s career; since touring exhaustion & internal tensions with Blackmore had lead Ian Gillian to jump ship (who was soon followed by Roger Glover), “Burn” saw the end of their legendary Mark II lineup, with Glenn Hughes joining to play bass, and a then unknown David Coverdale taking care of the lead vocals, before he had started making hair metal in a band named after his organ… and I ain’t talkin’ bout the Jon Lord kind of organ. In addition to that, with the creative input of the new members, “Burn” saw the beginning of the band’s transition away from the more straightforward Mark II era songwriting, towards incorporating soul, funk, and boogie influences, mixed in with the band’s previous core of hard rock. Granted, “Burn” doesn’t go as far with all that as its excellent followup, “Stormbringer”, would, but nonetheless, the start of the trend can still be heard here.
So, we have a major lineup change, and a change in sound to an already proven formula? Sounds like a shaky proposition, doesn’t it? Fortunately, the new songwriting/vocal style of “Burn” sounds like a perfectly natural continuation of the band’s previous work, and was pretty much the perfect thing for them, since they were already beginning to sound a lil’ stale, but I digress; the album opens firing on all fucken cylinders with the title track, a blazing, 6 minute epic with a groovy, bad-ass main riff, what is one Ian Paice’s most frantic drum performances to date, soulful, high-energy, melodic singing from Coverdale (as opposed to the generally rawer Gillian), and a full minute during the midsection consisted of nothing but intense keyboard/guitar trade-off solos, in addition to more soloing later on… and at no fucken point does it becoming boring. Some modern tech death bands could learn a thing or two about keeping solos interesting from teh Purple, def.
So yeah, “Burn” is definitely one of their best tunes, and despite the new singing, the noticeably cleaner production, and the added funkiness to the keyboarding, it still feels like the same basic band, which is all that matters, since Deep Purple sounding like Deep Purple can only be a good thing. Hell, it’s like “Highway star” on fucken steroids, and that was already a kick-ass song, so just imagine how awesome that makes “Burn”!!! The mid-paced “Might just take your life” is a good deal more laid back, and isn’t nearly as impressive, but is still enjoyable, has some very tuneful synergy between Coverdale and Jon Lord on backup vocals, a very good keyboard solo from Lord, and serves as a necessary comedown from the opener.
Still, the boogie/joyful spirit of soul-infused “Lay down, stay down” is a lot more fun, with super loose, groovy drumming, playful piano work, and nice trade-offs with the lead vocals between Coverdale and Hughes, then “Sail away” comes as the big mid-album cool down, with a not-a-care-in-the-world tempo, an irresistibly funky main riff, and some cool, proto Chris Cornell singing (kind of). The sheer easy going nature of it, with that slinky, greasy stoner groove, really makes this a stand-out for “Burn”, and the second best cut here, but the record isn’t resting on its laurels yet; “You fool no one” is another strong number, propelled by some cowbell-y percussion and lovely gang vocals action. Srsly, if Purple had sung together like this the entire time, they could’ve had a good run as an a cappella chorus or somethin’.
The last few tracks here, “What’s going on here” & “Mistreated”, aren’t really anything great, but still satisfy… more boogie woogie piano! And more choir-ish vocals! The actual final track, the inexplicably named “‘A’ 200”, is overly goofy (why Purple left this on the album instead of B-side ”Coronarias Redig”, I’ll never know), but hey, one disappointment out of eight is forgivable. Anyway, some DP “fans” write off anything post-Gillan as ignorable (hell, Blackmore himself does that), but they’re all dead wrong; “Burn” both honors the legacy the Gillian era built, but also adds onto that legacy, showcasing a highly re-energized band, which is more than most classic groups can say by the time of their eighth album. Forget about what David Vincent said, and let’s come and “Burn” (and cum?) with Deep Purple for a while instead.
- Released: 1974
- Label: Purple Records (wtf?)
- Website: www.deeppurple.com
- David Coverdale: vocals
- Ritchie Blackmore: guitars
- Glenn Hughes: bass, vocals
- Ian Paice: drums
- Jon Lord: keyboards, backing vocals
- 01. Burn
- 02. Might Just Take Your Life
- 03. Lay Down, Stay Down
- 04. Sail Away
- 05. You Fool No One
- 06. What’s Goin’ On Here
- 07. Mistreated
- 08. ‘A’ 200