I’ve been listening to Tommy Bolin’s two solo albums, “Teaser” and “Private Eyes” recently, and it’s becoming clear what bugs me about Tommy Bolin’s sole studio contribution to the Deep Purple canon, the 1976 album “Come Taste the Band”.
The two Bolin albums, especially “Teaser”, released while he was still in Purple are choppy funk-rock. Meanwhile David Coverdale, as demonstrated by his later solo albums and with the earlier incarnation of Whitesnake (forget the late 80s MTV hair-metal version of that band!) was more into Hammond-heavy blues-rock. “Come Taste the Band” is an unhappy mix of these two styles, which for me is why the album as a whole doesn’t quite work for me. Some songs, such as “Dealer”, “Love Child” and “I Need Love” sound to me like bits of songs from “Teaser” and “Lovehunter” crudely chopped up and spliced together! The songs which do work, such as “Lady Luck”, “Drifter” and “You Keep On Moving” are where one style (Coverdale’s) predominates.
Saying that, “Teaser” and the heavier follow-up “Private Eyes” are fine albums, and it’s a pity Bolin’s career was tragically cut short by drug abuse; it’s just he was the wrong choice for Purple.
Sometimes I wonder what might have happened had Purple either chosen someone else, or sacked Bolin (and Glenn Hughes) in 1976. I’m guessing we’d have ended up with something much like early 80s Whitesnake, only with a flashier guitarist. Who was available in 1976? What about Gary Moore? Just what would a David Coverdale – Jon Lord – Ian Paice – Gary Moore – Neil Murray lineup have sounded like?
(This entry also appears in Where Worlds Collide)