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Album Review : Whitesnake Purple Special Gold Edition

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Review by Rob Broom for MPM

Remastered, Remixed and Revisited, the ‘Purple’ album gets a new skin and bares its fangs.

Back in 1973, the relatively unknown David Coverdale became the frontman for Deep Purple, at the time, one of the biggest rock bands around.

The band absolutely ripped out of the gates with the phenomenal ‘Burn’ album, then followed it up with the more restrained ‘Stormbringer’ and then after the departure of guitarist Richie Blackmore the band finished with ‘Come Taste The Band’, now with Tommy Bolin on guitar. Several live albums also materialised and back at the time I do remember practically playing the ‘Made In Europe’ live album to death!

Various Deep Purple band members set off on solo careers (with varying degrees of success, although I think I bought most releases regardless!) and David Coverdale formed the bluesy rock orientated ‘Whitesnake’ which, at one point, also included Jon Lord and Ian Price from Deep Purple. As the mid 1980s arrived Coverdale cleverly reinvented Whitesnake and released the mega hit album ‘1987’ which fitted nicely into the whole MTV era of ‘hair/glam’ metal in the USA and elsewhere around the world.

Fast forward to 2015 and – as the accompanying booklet tells us – after a great deal of fun and pleasure, Whitesnake released the ‘Purple’ album, a tribute, or perhaps more appropriately, a reimagining of some of the fantastic songs David Coverdale had been involved with during his time in Deep Purple. And, quite simply folks, that really is understating the album!

So, a quick jump forward to 2023 and we get this new, ‘Revisited, Remixed, Remastered’ Special Gold Edition of the Purple album, which also ties in with 50 years since David Coverdale joined Deep Purple!

This package comes with an expanded booklet (which is very useful and interesting), a CD containing the updated album, a CD with some live material from the Purple tour, some alternative mixes and perhaps of interest to many (including me) the original David Coverdale audition tape featuring the Fabulosa Brothers. More on that later. There is also a Blu Ray with a mix of relevant videos and live clips. All in all, a great looking package so lets dive in and give it a listen!

Opening track ‘Burn’ is an absolute timeless rock classic, and the band have no problem in delivering a furious rendition that keeps faith with the original. David Coverdale’s vocals however, are markedly different. Here, he is meaner and leaner sounding, but once you get over that difference it really is game on – Mr Coverdale is on a mission and you best keep out of his way!

‘Lay Down, Stay Down’ (also from ‘Burn’) keeps the same format, the band completely let rip and Coverdale continues to spit out the vocals like a man possessed! 

Its a terrific ‘one two’ and then followed up with a very punchy ‘Love Child’ (from Come Taste The Band). Guitarists Reb Beach and Joel Hoekstra certainly know their way around a guitar! 

‘Holy Man’ (from Stormbringer) slows the pace down a notch, but is none the less powerful for it. Hearing this new version is particularly refreshing and enjoyable, as is the more up tempo ‘The Gypsy’ and the full speed ahead frantic power blast of ‘Lady Double Dealer’ (both also from Stormbringer) certainly does not hang about!

‘Might Just Take Your Life’ takes us back to the ‘Burn’ album and is an opportunity for both Coverdale and the band to explore a different interpretation from the original, although it’s doesn’t stray too far.  That is a theme across the album, the band ‘keep the faith’ musically, but do more than enough to keep any listener who already knows the original songs very well on their toes, as they throw in clever tweaks and interpretations, making the songs fresh and relevant to todays audience. 

Staying with the ‘Burn album we are then treated to the classic ‘Mistreated’, which gives David Coverdale the chance to show he still has got what it takes before both he and the band open fire with the pumping ‘Stormbringer’. Its a good opportunity to make mention of the rhythm section of Michael Devin on bass and the legendary Tommy Aldridge on drums.

‘Sail Away’ is a gentler ( and excellent) refrain and is a wonderful alternative to the ‘Burn’ album version. It eases us into a more pumped up ‘You Keep On Moving’, the first of three more songs from ‘Come Taste The Band’. The song measures up well against the original while ‘Lady Luck’ and ‘Coming Home’ capture the band having a lot of fun! ‘Coming Home’ plays musical homage to the lyrics far better than the original in my opinion (and I really like the original version!).

Last but one number, ‘You Fool No One’ generally holds true to the original from ‘Burn’, but has some added groove to it and Coverdale is on fine form, while ‘Soldier Of Fortune’ (from Stormbringer) is a primarily acoustic finish to the album. It is very well done and after all the furious riffing and drumming a superb way to end the disc.

Disc 2 from the ‘Special Gold Edition’ kicks off with 5 live tracks – ‘Burn’, ‘The Gypsy’, ‘Mistreated’, ‘You Fool No One’ and ‘Soldier Of Fortune’. Furious, full on rock and the band sound like they are having fun as they show off their skills with some showboating (which you can also see on the Blu Ray).

We then get six alternative mixes and renditions, including 3 versions of ‘Soldier Of Fortune’, one of which is an instrumental.  Overall, these are all worth listening too, particularly ‘Love Child’, although that just might be my bias, I have always really liked the ‘Come Taste The Band’ album.

Then we get to what for me – and many other Deep Purple fans – will be of particular interest, David Coverdale’s audition tape for Deep Purple. As part of a band called the ‘Fabulosa Brothers’ a demo had been recorded to get a record deal. The tape was also sent to Deep Purple (as they were looking for a new singer) and the rest is history.

The booklet contains a good section on this, including recent interviews with other members of the Fabulosa Brothers. The four songs were all covers – ‘Everybody’s Talkin”, ‘Get Ready’, ‘Lonely Town, Lonely Street’ and ‘Dancing In The Street’.

There is definitely an early 1970s vibe to these recordings and they are decent enough although obviously not enough to get a recording contract yet good enough for David Coverdale to land the singing job with one of the biggest bands in the world at the time! They certainly give a guide to the direction the ‘Stormbringer’ and ‘Come Taste The Band’ albums would eventually go as David Coverdale, new bassist Glenn Hughes (who joined the same time as Coverdale, and does his own set of ‘Purple’ covers live – well worth seeing as well!), and new guitarist Tommy Bolin on the Come Taste The Band album, began to input their musical influence more heavily.

The disc wraps up with some David Coverdale demo ideas for Stormbringer.

Finally we have the Blu Ray. This contains eleven music videos supporting the ‘Purple’ album, some live clips, the five live tracks found on disc 2 and some behind the scenes footage. As I mentioned earlier it is great to see the band in action (particularly Tommy Aldridge hammering on those drums!), pumping out those 5 songs and really enjoying themselves. Well worthy of repeat viewing.

The clarity of sound on this Purple Special Gold Edition is excellent. A real treat for the ears and with all these extras spread across the extra 2 discs making a delicious icing on the cake, this is an excellent package that Whitesnake and Deep Purple fans should enjoy.

On first hearing, some Deep Purple MKIII (and MKIV for that matter!) diehards might struggle to get the most out of this album, as its not the ‘same’ as the originals, but that is really missing the point. Whitesnake became quite the commercial success (to put it mildly !) in their own right and this ‘Purple’ album allowed a whole new fan base the opportunity to hear the songs captured within the Whitesnake framework. So if you are in doubt, just play them again and louder! 

Having listened to the original three Deep Purple albums just before listening to this album in readiness for the review, I can safely say ‘Purple’ is a great deal of fun, stands up on its own merits with some cracking interpretations of fantastic songs and is worthy of being in your collection.

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