DEEP PURPLE – Stormbringer (35th Anniversary Edition, 2009 EMI, originally 1974)
Stormbringer, now available in the gloriously remastered series of Deep Purple special editions, is one of my favourite Purple platters. Now augmented with bonus material, it has finally been given the treatment it deserved. It’s certainly not everybody’s cup of tea, but Stormbringer has earned some begrudging fans over the years. I for one find it a more enjoyable listen cover to cover than 1974’s Burn.
A lot of fans did not like the funkier, softer direction of the band. You can understand this, of course. A fan who loved In Rock, one of the heaviest records of any decade, could easily be turned off by the radio-ready soul funk of “Hold On”. Blackmore himself decried the funky direction of the band.
Here’s the good news: Whatever Deep Purple set their minds to, they could do. And they could do it well.
Blackmore may not have liked the album, and he did take a step back in the mix, (you can barely hear any guitar on “Hold On”). He could stilll adapt to and play any style. His playing here, while sparse, is sublime. Ian Paice takes to the funky rhythms very comfortably, laying down some excellent grooves. Jon Lord steps up to the forefront, supplying some excellent, funky keys.
There are a few songs that harken back to the past: “Stormbringer”, the title track, sounds as solid as any epic the band had ever composed. It could have been on Burn as easily as this record. In fact, it stands out as being out of place: As the opening track, fans must have been shocked and surprised when the rest of the album was so different.
Another song that has shades of older Purple is “The Gypsy”. It’s a slow mournful piece, perhaps akin to “Mistreated” from the previous album. The lyrics are uncharacteristically bleak.
One track showed an interesting glimpse of the future. “Soldier Of Fortune” is an acoustic track which forshadowed much of the music Blackmore would do with Rainbow, and even now with Blackmore’s Night. David Coverdale has performed it live with Whitesnake. I think it’s one of Richie Blackmore’s finest compositions.
Of the other tunes, “Love Don’t Mean A Thing” is one of the funkiest, and one of the most entertaining. It’s just fun to listen to. David and Glenn co-sing this one. Ritchie’s solo is very understated, but appropriate. Glenn takes his first solo lead vocal with Deep Purple on “Holy Man”, a soulful ballad. “You Can’t Do It Right” features probably the funkiest guitar work of Blackmore’s career. It’s fascinating to listen to, and the band really cooks on this one. It’s one of the most extreme experiments of this funky Purple period.
As with all the Purple reissues, this has been lovingly remastered. Finally you can discard your original CD, mastered for digital ages ago, but never really letting the subtleties of the music shine. Stormbringer, of all the Deep Purple albums, perhaps has more subtleties to hear due to the quieter nature of the music.
Bonus material? Oh yeah, there’s bonus material, in this case four remixes by Glenn Hughes. These remixes don’t replace the original songs, but they do act as a companion piece of sorts. Fresh light is shed on alternate takes incorporated into the mixes, and “Love Don’t Mean A Thing” is extended by over half a minute. “High Ball Shooter” is presented in an early instrumental form as well.
As an added bonus, a second disc has been included. The second disc, exclusive to this edition, is a DVD containing the original 1975 quadrophonic mix of Stormbringer! Nice. Apparently, this disc is to be a limited edition so get yours while you can. I liked quite a bit, myself. As with many quad mixes from the 70’s, the songs often bear noticeable differences from the originals. Quad was a gimmicky fad, by today’s standards, but listening to it with the benefit of hindsight is quite enjoyable.
Lastly, I must acknowledge the great liner notes. The most entertaining story included is in regards to “Love Don’t Mean A Thing.” While in Chicago, Ritchie ran across a street busker, who was snapping his fingers singing a song about money. Blackmore invited him onto Purple’s plane, collected Coverdale and Hughes, and jammed for 20 minutes with this guy who taught them the song and the lyrics. The band finished the song that became “Love Don’t Mean A Thing”, credited to the entire quintet, because nobody ever bothered to get the busker’s name.
Pick up Stormbringer in this 25th Anniversary Edition, and finally you can feel comfortable discarding your original.
5/5 stars for both the music, and the reissue!