The UK album chart of 23 November 1974 was quite a momentous one for rock fans. As Elton John’s Greatest Hits debuted at No. 1 there were new entries in the top ten for Queen’s Sheer Heart Attack and Sparks' Propaganda, but there was also a new arrival at No. 12 for the 1974 vintage of Deep Purple, with Stormbringer.
This was the second album (in the years after Ian Gillan's departure and before his return) to feature the line-up of Mk II staples Ritchie Blackmore, Jon Lord and Ian Paice along with David Coverdale and Glenn Hughes. Further to that, it was this Purple configuration’s second album to be released in just nine months, after Burn appeared in the early part of 1974.
But as Purple fans know, that productive period for the new line-up was short-lived. The band toured in North America in late November and December, and during a break in dates, Blackmore headed for a studio to record tracks for an intended studio release. That project, featuring Ronnie James Dio among others, became Rainbow, and the Deep Purple name would not appear on a new studio record again for 11 more years.
Stormbringer was bookended by writing collaborations between Blackmore and Coverdale, the title song and ‘Soldier Of Fortune.’ All of the rest of the band took part in the songwriting, which veered more towards soulful influences than perhaps any other Purple album. The album debuted in the UK at No. 12, climbing healthily to No. 6 in its second week before falling back to its original position.
In the States, Stormbringer reached No. 20, compared to the No. 9 peak of Burn, but the loyalty of the band’s audience was underlined once again when, like its predecessor, it went gold. Melody Maker’s review, by Chris Charlesworth, was inaccurate in the short term but correct in the longer view: “There are enough good moments on Stormbringer,” he wrote, “to ensure they'll be around a long time yet.”
Meanwhile in Sounds, writer Pete Makowski advised: "Approach Stormbringer cautiously, don't expect the heavy side of Purple, it's a more refined band with the same exciting elements that make them THE rock band. They've always been known for their quality in this field and now this album takes it a level higher, maybe a drastic change, but it had to happen some time, so why not now?
'This ain't what Purple are about,' some may say despondently. But Purple may be getting closer to their roots than we think. Give it a listen."
Purchase Stormbringer here.
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