Tommy Bolin made just one studio album with Deep Purple, 1975’s Come Taste The Band, a record which followed Richie Blackmore’s acrimonious departure from the band and showcased the funkier edge to their sound initiated by Glenn Hughes and David Coverdale on Burn and continued on Stormbringer. After a couple of rather chaotic tours, Purple disbanded, seemingly for good, in 1976, leaving Bolin adrift. A couple of not bad solo albums followed, Teaser and Private Eyes, before he died of an overdose in December of that year, aged just twenty five. He was already an experienced musician before joining Purple of course, having played with the likes of The James Gang and Billy Cobham, but his style of playing was very different to Blackmore’s, leading to a somewhat mixed reception for Come Taste The Band and discontent from live audiences. Listening back, the album is actually pretty good, perhaps the most overlooked and underrated in Purple’s extensive back catalogue. Certainly it’s not a typical album by them in the vein of In Rock or Machine Head, but the funkier edge to their rock sound really suits Hughes and Coverdale’s styles. Maybe in hindsight they would have been better choosing another band name for the post Richie line up, but of course the selling power of the Purple brand name was immense in terms of albums and tickets. The book itself is worth a read overall, although large parts of it are simply cut and pasted quotes from past interviews with the key players, with linking passages provided by the author to drive the narrative forward. This is the only book I’ve seen on Tommy Bolin, and I feel there’s a longer and more in depth one still waiting to be written. This short biography is a commendable effort though, by a first time author and obvious Bolin fan, but for me it falls somewhat short of the mark, well researched but ultimately not offering any new insights, which is a bit of a shame really. Full marks for effort then, maybe less so for content.
Length of Read:Short
Might appeal to people who enjoyed…
The On Track and Decades series of books, Deep Purple, Bolin’s guitar playing.
One thing you’ve learned
Bolin’s live work with Deep Purple can be heard on the Last Concert In Japan album, a heavily edited version of their show at the Budokan in December 1975. The full show eventually surfaced, in better sound quality, on the 2001 release This Time Around.