[Review] Deep Purple: Stormbringer (1974)

The final album before Blackmore went in search of his own Rainbow, this marks the end of an era.

Kronomyth 10.0: Ride the rainbow one last time.

This was the first Deep Purple album I bought… and nearly the last. At the time (the early 80s), I was into punk and prog and expecting something like Sabotage. Instead, this was hard rock with a heavy blues-funk edge and a Pegasus on the cover, which is only slightly less gay than a unicorn. I listened to Stormbringer a few times, put it back in its Pegasus sleeve, and figured those Deep Purple fans didn’t know what they were talking about.

Of course, ten Purple albums later, I have a deeper appreciation of Stormbringer for what it is: the last of the Mk. III albums to feature Ritchie Blackmore. The opening Stormbringer continues the proud lineage of head-banging, throat-busting heralds in the Purple family, and there really isn’t a bad song in the bunch. There are a few more rockers (Lady Double Dealer, High Ball Shooter), some pretty catchy melodies (Love Don’t Mean a Thing, You Can’t Do It Right) and moments of Heepish mysticism and majesty (Holy Man, The Gypsy, Soldier of Fortune).

Now, that said, each Mk. III album seemed a step closer to rock & roll mediocrity than the last as the elements of blues and funk became more pronounced. Also, this album wastes one of the world’s best rock & roll drummers, Ian Paice, about half the time. Despite his criticism of the album, Ritchie Blackmore seems inspired by the material, David Coverdale sings it very well (often with Glenn Hughes riding beside him) and Jon Lord gets his funk on. Martin Birch shares the production credit this time, while Paice had a hand in the final mix (seeing as how he didn’t need two of them for these beats).

If this is the worst Deep Purple album so far, and it may be, it’s still better than most Uriah Heep records. That’s not exactly resounding praise, I realize, but I’ve certainly warmed up to this album over the years. It turns out the Deep Purple fans knew something I didn’t: that Stormbringer is part of a broader legacy that has brought the heavy metal thunder and then some since 1970.

Original elpee version

A1. Stormbringer (Ritchie Blackmore/David Coverdale) (4:03)
A2. Love Don’t Mean a Thing (Ritchie Blackmore/David Coverdale/Glenn Hughes/Jon Lord/Ian Paice) (4:23)
A3. Holy Man (David Coverdale/Glenn Hughes/Jon Lord) (4:28)
A4. Hold On (David Coverdale/Glenn Hughes/Jon Lord/Ian Paice) (5:05)
B1. Lady Double Dealer (Ritchie Blackmore/David Coverdale) (3:19)
B2. You Can’t Do It Right (With the One You Love) (Ritchie Blackmore/David Coverdale/Glenn Hughes) (3:24)
B3. High Ball Shooter (Ritchie Blackmore/David Coverdale/Glenn Hughes/Jon Lord/Ian Paice) (4:26)
B4. The Gypsy (Ritchie Blackmore/David Coverdale/Glenn Hughes/Jon Lord/Ian Paice) (4:13)
B5. Soldier of Fortune (Ritchie Blackmore/David Coverdale) (3:14)

CD reissue bonus tracks
10. Holy Man (Glenn Hughes remix)
11. You can’t Do It Right (Glenn Hughes remix)
12. Love Don’t Mean a Thing (Glenn Hughes remix)
13. Hold On (Glenn Hughes remix)
14. High Ball Shooter (instrumental)

Original 8-track version
A1. Stormbringer
A2. Hold On
B1. Lady Double Dealer
B2. You Can’t Do It Right (With the One You Love)
B3. The Gypsy (beginning)
C1. The Gypsy (conclusion)
C2. Love Don’t Mean a Thing
C3. Soldier of Fortune
D1. Holy Man
D2. High Ball Shooter

The Players

Ritchie Blackmore (lead guitar), David Coverdale (vocals), Glenn Hughes (bass guitar, vocals), Jon Lord (keyboards), Ian Paice (drums). Produced by Deep Purple and Martin Birch; mixed by Martin Birch and Ian Paice; engineered by Gary Webb and Gary Ladinsky.

The Pictures

Art direction by Ed Thrasher. Illustration by Joe Garnett Design / John Cabalka.

The Plastic

Released on elpee and 8-track on November 8, 1974 in the UK (Purple, TPS 3508), the US (Warner Bros., PR/M8P 2832), France (Purple, 2C 066-96.004), Germany (Purple, 1C 062-96 004), Italy (Purple, 3C 064-96004) and Japan (Warner Bros. P-8524W). Reached #6 on the UK charts and #20 on the US charts (RIAA-certified gold record).

  1. Re-issued on elpee in Japan (Warner Bros. P-6510W).
  2. Re-issued on compact disc in the Netherlands (Purple, CDP 7 91084 2).
  3. Re-issued on compact disc on February 10, 1989 in Japan (Warner Bros., 20P2-2609).
  4. Re-issued on cassette in the US (Metal Blade, 26456-4).
  5. Re-released on remastered compact disc in 2007 in the US (Friday Music, 10562-6).
  6. Re-released on super-high material compact disc on September 17, 2008 in Japan (Warner Bros., WPCR-13116).
  7. Re-released on expanded 35th anniversary SHM-2CD on April 27, 2016 in Japan (Warner) with 5 bonus tracks and quad mix bonus disc.
  8. Re-released on remastered purple vinyl elpee in 2018 in Europe (Universal, 6751929).

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