True rude story: a nameless friend of mine* had been doing a lot of driving and ‘parking’ with his girlfriend and like every muso bore amongst us had insisted that they listen to his music whilst so doing. In the process he had left one of his precious homemade tapes in the car; possibly along with his virginity. Anyway, the mother of the young lady concerned had been driving to work listening to the tape and despite being a parent and therefore by definition ancient beyond all reckoning^ rather dug the rock. You can only imagine her surprise when she delved into the glove compartment to find out that from the scrawled legend on the spine of the tape that she had apparently been listening to an LP called Taste The Band’s Come by Deep Purple.
Rich My friend was never allowed around again. All because an evil older brother had made a mucky joke when he taped it, which my anonymous chum had never even noticed.
The world around us hangs in doubt
You face a crime that we’ll hear about
To pay the cost would never be the same
Eternal lover you’re not to blame (This Time Around)
I first heard Come Taste The Band in 1989, aged 17 when en route to camping in Scotland (it rained) we stayed at a friend of my parents house and instead of being remotely sociable I spent the evening frantically taping LPs, finishing at 3am with a fair amount of, in retrospect, utter crap but also West Bruce & Laing Why Dontcha, ZZ Top Rio Grande Mud and Come Taste the Band. My LP copy is a 2015 reissue that I bought the same day as Draw The Line – what an awesome Bundle o’ Rock to hit my welcome mat on a single day.
You need a big hard rock opener on an album like this and Come Taste The Band delivers this in spades thanks to ‘Comin’ Home’ which is the best track here. It needed to be when you think of the context of a band who had just shed their iconic lead banjo player^^, if the new boy didn’t come up with the goods on Side 1 Track 1 then a lot of folks may not have listened much longer. Tommy Bolin aces it of course, but the band as a whole just sound so revved up and ready for action, it’s great – just listen to the track start; it sounds like a whole bunch of 70’s live LPs ending all at once. The band really fire up and head for the hills, a tight but loosey-goosey swagger carries this tune all the way home – Glenn Hughes bass and Jon Lord’s organ being particularly prominent in the mix. This is one of my fave Purple songs period.
The pace really doesn’t let up for a second as the band drop two more great rockers at our feet, ‘Lady Luck’ and ‘Gettin Tighter’, both of whom have a real (looks for synonym for ‘swagger’), umm, swagger about them. I love this iteration of the band, they had such a great groove about them in the studio and the newer chaps seemed to be pulling ever better performances out of Paice and Lord. Glenn Hughes’ vocals on ‘Gettin Tighter’ are just excellent, he just sells it so well – even the decidedly funky mid-song breakdown works; best of all though is Bolin’s playing, fast but with no spare notes at all.
Come Taste The Band delivers a good change of pace with ‘The Dealer’ a cautionary tale about drug peddlers not being very nice chaps. It’s a good job that the band were so abstemious in their habits that I can’t sound our local Hypocrite Alarm here. Again the weave of the instruments is great and it is so good that I can forgive the bit where Coverdale gets to sing, ‘If the bluebird plays the eagle / He finds his song will turn to stone‘ meaningfully; this would have totally ruined a lesser LP for me. In fact, let’s face it a good deal of the lyrics here are total bollocks but that’s not what we’re here for.
I tend to snooze through the next couple of tracks and jolt awake in time for ‘Love Child’ which is played and sung like it was meant, which has a wildly out-of-place clavinet solo sticking out of its’ roof. It works really well in a it-shouldn’t-at-all way – no wonder Blackmore had kittens, the Funk was on!
‘This Time Around’ is a real oddity in the Purple canon^*, a funky odyssey once described, unkindly, by me as what it would sound like if Stevie Wonder had been deaf instead of blind; I rather like it now. Another lead vocal for Hughes, Jon Lord plays all the instruments on this one and the whole has a pleasingly classy feel to it – I can imagine it playing during a 1970’s keys-in-a-bowl swingers party, but that may just be me. It even has a nifty elegiac Bolin-penned instrumental coda called ‘Owed To a ‘G'”.
I’ve changed my mind as to the best track on Come Taste The Band already this evening, it’s another Hughes vocal too ‘You Keep on Moving’. The band sound weighty and epic on this cut, without ever straining for it, dignified even. Basically it conjures up a vision of a troubled man drinking alone in a shadowy room contemplating, like, really profound shit. One day I’ll use it to play over the pivotal scene in the highly-acclaimed movie I will direct about a dude who has a long dark night of the soul, before realizing something profound/cleaning up his act/bedding a wench/carrying out his mission/doing the ironing, I’ve got a couple of details I need to sort out yet. It is a perfect exit track for a very good LP.
I have liked this LP a long time now, even to the point of owning it on the forbidden format. I think it’s one that either gets overlooked by the hardcore Purple people, or looked at as a novelty because of poor Tommy Bolin. I would argue, forcefully if you push me, that Come Taste The Band is worth a lot more than that, as entertainingly of the time as the band’s facial hair, it is every bit as good as its more lauded predecessor and would supply a good few shots in my Top 20 Deep Purple songs ever. It may be an acquired taste, but definitely one worth the trouble of acquiring, eh Rich?
PS: No idea who these guys are but they clearly don’t know as much about the LP as I do.
*I have opted for this anonymous approach in order to completely protect Richard Davies’ identity from exposure on the internet. 1537: Integrity is my middle name**.
**sort of 15Integrity37.
^although probably a couple of years younger than I am at the time of writing.
^^some no-mark called Ritchie Blackmore. He probably works part-time in a supermarket these days, maybe in Lute-on.
^*not to be confused with the purple cannon … that’s a whole different thang.