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!
I totally agree with you on this one. Brilliant album and brilliant reissue. I loved this album from the first listen and always thought it was superior to Burn (which I find a bit stodgy and patchy in parts).
Isn’t that funny, and yet Burn is usually considered the superior album!
Burn has some great tunes and is more obviously Purple-esque but overall I just think it’s patchier than Stormbringer. There’s nothing as boring as Sail Away on this one.
I have a brief snippet of Coverdale playing Sail Away. It was during the Come Taste the Band sessions. There was a picture of Coverdale with a guitar, and nobody knew why…then they dug up this tape of Sail Away, and it was like, “That can’t be Tommy, he didn’t know the song.” It was David playing guitar.
A couple of months ago I’ve listen to Come taste the band (alternative version mixed by Kevin Shirley). Fuckin incredible. I must admit that I dont know which record I love most of the three with Coverdale/Hughes. CTTB sounds fresh and up2date.
Thanks Gene! I haven’t reviewed Come Taste the Band yet, but I will. I too have the Kevin Shirley version.
I think personally Come Taste is my favourite. When I first heard it, I couldn’t believe how good it was. People had told me it sucked — they were wrong!
And somewhere out there is a busker who tells all passersby about DP stealing his song..
This writeup, as ever, makes me wanna hear the record. Dammit, this trip to Taranna we’re talking about is getting more and more expensive…
Well, in this day and age, you can always preview it via youtube or what have you. After all, considering the backlash on my Queensryche reviews, do you really trust my opinion? ;) Apparently I’m just here to promote the bands I like and trash the ones I hate.
“Here’s the good news: Whatever Deep Purple set their minds to, they could do. And they could do it well.” I agree 100%. Stormbringer is one of my favourites DP album. I remember that one day I cried for the beauty of vocal performances on High Ball Shooter and You Can’t Do it Right! Two of the most talented singer in just one record. Wow! A really good album indeed. I love Deep Purple MK III & IV.
Crap! I have this 35th Anniversary edition but had no knowledge of the quad-mix second disc. Should have done more research! Funny, I’ve always thought I liked Burn a little better than this one but, spurred by your post, I just checked the “plays” column on my iTunes and damned if the Stormbringer songs don’t have nearly double the spins. Great post, man. Thanks.
Hey, thanks for posting! I think I can safely conclude then that the Quad mix was indeed a limited edition bonus CD — your post seems to confirm that!
Thanks again, very cool!