Burn' took Deep Purple from a bloody good band to a new level.
As a child of the sixties, I was brought up on heavy doses of The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, but by early teens I'd been introduced to the likes of Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, Cream and eventually Deep Purple. 'Machine Head' was played to death in my house on the little "mono" record player with the often "turn that bloody noise down" comment from my parents. Deep Purple were, in fact, my third ever gig ('Machine Head' tour – Orchid Ballroom, Purley, Surrey) when I stood no further than six feet away from Jon Lord all night and was blown away by the sheer class of this act.
For a short while my musical education was interrupted by other things (motorcycles and girls) and I lost touch with bands and new releases. I had purchased 'Fireball' but it did very little for me. So, imagine this situation early in 1974 when I had the pleasure of buying my first home and, whilst decorating the kitchen turned the portable radio on and tuned to Tommy Vance. A blistering guitar riff, frenetic drums, Hammond Organ and a short while later that powerful vocal "The sky is red, I don't understand, past midnight I still see land etc.... Buurrrrrrnnnn!" What the fuck! This wasn't just great, it was awesome!
Basically, the title track is a drum solo in its own right with vocals and everything else over the top, whoever was drumming was clearly a master skins-man. The vocals, which suddenly went from one to two vocalists seemed to blends nicely together and the confusion was short lived. The explanation was forthcoming, this was the new Deep Purple with David Coverdale and Glenn Hughes replacing Ian Gillan and Roger Glover. I knew Hughes from Trapeze but, like many, had no idea who Coverdale was. In my opinion 'Burn' is the best Purple opening track ever... simples!
Trust me, the album purchase was the following morning and it was on the record deck (remember them?) as soon as I got home from work. Track after track this proved to be a great purchase. Whilst the title track was the one that grabbed my attention, everything that followed was just as pleasing. 'Might Just Take Your Life' starts with the trademark Lord sound and is a Bluesier heavy number and was released as a single, Purple's first single for two years but obviously, it didn't chart well – far too good!
'Burn', the album, has everything. From the driving title track to the simple but very effective "Mistreated" (which at 7:25 in length is the longest track on the album) it's a Rock fans dream. The only filler I can conclude is "A200" and why or what it's doing on the album I have no idea.
'Burn' took Deep Purple from a bloody good band to a new level. Whilst I'd enjoyed the MkII line-up and sound, I had always thought Gillan's lyrics to be his failing grace. Yes, he had a great voice but he could have done with a lyric writer. Bringing the pairing of Coverdale and Hughes in put more meaning into the songs and the two of them working together in the vocal department was a joy to the ears. Ironically, it's a shame that this was probably the last Deep Purple album Richie Blackmore enjoyed making (he departed after 'Stormbringer') as I feel Purple MkIII would have lasted much longer had they stuck to the 'Burn' formula.