When Deep Purple parted ways with Ritchie Blackmore around the end of '74, beginning of '75, most people considered the band over and done with. "Come Taste the Band", which was released in 1975 with replacement guitarist Tommy Bolin, was quite an alright CD but didn't quite capture the energy and especially the virtuosity of former material. Tommy simply wasn't Ritchie. "Last Concert in Japan" was pretty sloppy (though it shone in instances). Tommy Bolin OD'd in 1976 and his departure was not lamented among Deep Purple fans as much as perhaps it ought to have been.

Now, thus claim the liner notes, have surfaced rehearsal recordings that show Tommy Bolin to be the right one to carry on the band with. Several weeks after Tommy joined the band, they recorded rehearsals done in a Hollywood studio. Originally thought lost, bla bla bla, they have been found, brushed up, and put on CD.

Purple Mk 4, as the line-up with Tommy Bolin is known, will never be able to hold a candle to Mk 2 (Gillan, Glover, Lord, Paice, Blackmore), and this recording is hardly going to change that. In particular because the only musician who really lays down truly ace performances is drummer Ian Paice (OK, David Coverdale sings really well, too). Tommy Bolin manages to play a decent bit of guitar, but rarely shines. Near the end of the 12+ minute "I Got Nothing For You" he does some commendable work, as well as throughout the 'version 1' of "Drifter".

Let's put it like this: Bolin is better than most players, but nothing like Blackmore. To me he was The Wrong Choice.

After having slagged Tommy off like this, it does need to be said that the album is rather good. The songs as a whole are good, as were the ones on "Come Taste the Band" for that matter. There's more of a funky feel to it, but that's acceptable. On "Days May Come and Days May Go" we heard the band playing jams, old tunes and new tunes. It kicks off with the strong "Owed to 'G'" and there's "Drifter" (plus one extra rehearsal intro thing), there's "Statesboro' Blues", and the rest is mostly jams. Some are good, some are average, but playing level is consistently high. The 10th track (a track not mentioned for obvious reasons) could have been left off - it's a zany version of "I've got you Baby", sung out of key and generally superfluous.



Written June 2000


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