During the early 1970s, Deep Purple had evolved into one of the premier hard rock bands in the world. Their albums sold millions of copies and rose to the top or near the top of the charts in a number of countries including Britain and the United States. In addition their live shows continually sold out concert halls and arenas.
Change was in the air for the band. 1974 would find a far different group as singer Ian Gillan and bassist Roger Glover left the band, leaving its future in doubt. Holdover members Ritchie Blackmore, Ian Paice, and Jon Lord didn’t miss a beat as they recruited singer David Coverdale and bassist/vocalist Glenn Hughes as their replacements. The Mark III version of Deep Purple was born. They released their first album, Burn, during February of 1974. It continued their commercial success in the United States and Britain.
It can be eternally discussed or argued concerning the quality of the Coverdale/Hughes duo vs. the departed Gillan/Glover combination. All brought different strengths to the band. Coverdale may have had a different vocal style than his predecessor, but he was a superior vocalist in his own right. Hughes may not have been as powerful a bassist as Glover, but his ability to harmonize on the vocals made his contributions unique. The Lord/Blackmore duo remained intact, and they were able to mesh with the new members well. They were also wise enough to use the talents of their two new members rather they have them try to duplicate those of Glover and Gillan. It all meant, at least as far as Burn was concerned, that they were able to produce music of the caliber of the Mark II line-up.
The opening title song quickly proved that Deep Purple was still a formidable hard rock unit. It was an all-out rocker as Blackmore turned his guitar loose as Coverdale and Hughes traded leads. It established the formula of creative solos, screeching vocals, and some tight harmonies that would become synonymous with the Mark III group.
They even experimented a little as “What’s Goin’ On Here” is a boogie-woogie rocker with Lord playing some barrelhouse piano. The harmonies of Hughes and Coverdale are some of the best of the band’s long career.
“Mistreated” is a rock/blues fusion piece during which Coverdale establishes himself as one of rock’s great vocalists. Blackmore fills in the gaps in the seven minute song with a number of pyrotechnic guitar solos.
The hard rock continues throughout as “Might Just Take Your Life,” “Lay Down Stay Down,” “You Fool No One,” and “Sail Away” all find the band at the top of their hard rock game.
Burn was a fine addition to the Deep Purple legacy and is an essential release for any fan. If you are only familiar with their newer material or have been partial to their Mark II work, then you are in for a treat.