The Mark III line-up of Deep Purple returned at the end of 1974 with their second release of the year, Stormbringer (which followed the February release of Burn). It was also the last one for this incarnation of the group, as dissatisfaction with the musical direction of the band would cause guitarist Ritchie Blackmore to depart.
During the first part of the 1970s, Deep Purple built a reputation as one of the best and most popular hard rock bands in the world. Stormbringer was a different type of Deep Purple album, as subtle funk and soul elements were present. The frenetic paced rock of their previous early ’70s releases was toned down, and the vocal combination of David Coverdale and Glenn Hughes continued to add harmonies and a vocal style that was new to the band’s music. The most disturbing element was the level of participation by Jon Lord, as he virtually disappeared on many of the tracks.
It remains an album that fans of the band either love or hate. Personally, I tend to turn to their music that makes my head ache. But if you want something out of the ordinary from these hard rock veterans, then this is an album for you.
The group did get into its classic hard rock mode on a couple of tracks, however. The title song was a straight-ahead rocker and a concert staple during the mid-1970s. “Lady Double Dealer” was one of the few tracks where Lord and Blackmore do combine for some vintage Purple sounds.
The album ultimately traveled in a number of musical directions. “Holy Man” had a soul/rock feel to it and featured one of the better vocal performances of Glenn Hughes’ career. “You Can’t Do Right (With The One You Love)” was a funky piece. “The Gypsy” was a slow and moody rock ballad, and “Soldier Of Fortune” had an acoustic foundation with melancholy lyrics.
Stormbringer is an album that ranks somewhere in the middle of the Deep Purple catalogue. In addition to the stylistic differences, the main problem may have been that the band was just too serious rather than letting the hard rock good times roll. The Mark III Deep Purple would soon be gone and thus, there would be no encore. It remains more interesting than essential to its legacy.