Every week Self Made Man offers his views on the world of rock – drawing on more than 30 years of first hand experience!
To mark the 40th anniversary of Deep Purple’s Burn album, there was talk this week of the band’s Mark III line-up reforming.
Glenn Hughes, whose current band Black Country Communion look set to disband following the upcoming release of their third album, is all for it.
And so too, apparently, is David Coverdale, despite Whitesnake still being a going concern.
Then the problems start. Keyboardist Jon Lord, who figured in every Deep Purple line-up until his retirement ten years ago, sadly passed away in July.
Richie Blackmore, according to recent reports, is currently “uncontactable.” while drummer Ian Paice has yet to be approached.
Personally, I’d love to see Coverdale and Hughes re-united, colloborate on a new album and perhaps tour. But please don’t call it Deep Purple.
In fact, when the band released the legendary Burn album back in 1974, there was an argument that they shouldn’t have been called Deep Purple in the first place.
Burn happens to be one of my favourite DP albums. I rank it alongside Machine Head and the hugely underrated Come Taste the Band, their lat until the Mark II line-up reformed in 1984.
But while all three bear the name Deep Purple on the record sleeves, they were very much products of three separate entities with only Lord and Paice appearing on all of them.
Machine Head featured the voice of Ian Gillan with Roger Glover, rather than Hughes on bass.
Blackmore was lead guitarist on both Machine Head and Burn but quit after the release of Stormbringer, complaining that the band’s new funky sound, was far removed from what he considered Purple’s DNA.
And he was probably right. With Hughes and Coverdale sharing songwriting duties with Blackmore, Deep Purple still sounded damn good, but they didn’t sound like Deep Purple.
And when Tommy Bolin replaced Blackmore, Come Taste the Band was about as far removed from Machine Head as a Rolling Stones track to a Beatles one.
Bands can evolve. For example, The Beatles’ Love Me Do is very different from Let It Be but at least the Fab Four evolved together.
When AC/DC replaced the late Bon Scott with Brian Johnson, obviously the vocals changed but the sound didn’t because the songwriting duo of Malcolm and Angus Young remained intact and every album of theirs’ from High Voltage to Black Ice, while not being carbon copies of each other, carry the same unmistakable sound of the band.
When is a band, not a band? It’s an open question with a hundreds of answers and every one has their opinions.
Many Pink Floyd fans claim they were no longer Pink Floyd once Syd Barrett left. Roger Waters would argue the band ceased to exist when he walked out.
It was the same with Black Sabbath fans when Ronnie James Dio, fresh out of Rainbow, took over mic duties from the sacked Ozzy. Heaven and Hell and its follow-up Mob Rules, were very, very different from its predecessors.
Were they in fact, Black Sabbath albums at all? Opinion was split down the middle. And to this day, I don’t know who was right.
And, at the end of the day, that’s all that really matters. So if Hughes and Coverdale do get together, they can call themselves Deep Purple Mark 78 or even The HC Band. It’s the sound that counts, not the name.