I remembered the cover art and I remembered Tommy Bolin, but I really did not remember much of the music. I had to give my old vinyl copy of Come Taste The Band a couple of spins to re-acquaint myself with the album. It may not be near the top of the Deep Purple pantheon of albums, but it was not terrible either. The passage of time allows it to stand more on its own and as such is at least interesting and in some places good.
Deep Purple was in need of a guitarist during 1975 as Ritchie Blackmore had quit in a snit. David Coverdale convinced John Lord and Ian Paice to hire Tommy Bolin, and so the short-lived Mark IV incarnation of Deep Purple was born. Tommy Bolin was coming off short stints as the lead guitarist with Zephyr and The James Gang before hitting the big time with Deep Purple.
Come Taste The Band was more mainstream than most of their releases. They did not really make the best use of Bolin’s skills. He was one of the superior guitarists of the era and, while he contributed some good licks, there could have been more. Coverdale and Hughes are both in fine vocal form but, except for one track, they basically confined themselves to solo performances rather than uniting into tight harmonies. The good news was that Jon Lord picked up some of slack after Blackmore’s departure, which was welcome after his disappearing act on their previous album, Stormbringer.
The songs from Come Taste The Band have slipped off the Deep Purple grid, which can be expected as only Ian Paice remains from this group. The two Hughes vocal songs, the first part of “This Time Around/Owed To G” and “Gettin’ Tighter,” tend to be a cut above the rest as they mixed in a little funky soul as was his custom during his time with the band. Songs such as “”Lady Luck,” “Dealer,” “Drifter,” and “Love Child” may not reach out and grab you, but they quickly settled into a polished groove and just slide by the senses.
It is an album of average and a little above average tracks that add up to a middling or okay listening experience. Looking back it feels as if the band just missed creating an excellent release. There would be no encores for Mark IV as Deep Purple would disband for over eight years and Tommy Bolin would die of a drug overdose, December 4, 1976, at the age of 26.