It must have been early 1976 when I got hold of Deep Purple’s Made In Europe. It was the first Purple live album I got my ears around, and something of an epiphany – this was the real deal. And listening to it now, it’s still a damn fine hard rock album. What brings it to mind now though, in a blues context, is ‘Mistreated’ – interpolating, as the sleeve notes put it, ‘Rock Me Baby’ – and the way that I particularly identify the track with David Coverdale.
|"Ere's a song for ya!"
It’s a great performance on Made In Europe, but it went on to become a mainstay of the Whitesnake repertoire, and you might say a template for their especially bluesy brand of rock in the Marsden/Moody line-up. I dare say Coverdale had performed it live during his solo spell before forming Whitesnake, but my key recollection of it making an impression with the latter was when they did a tour of small UK clubs on the back of the Snakebite EP released in 1978.
There was a review in Sounds of a gig at, I’m pretty sure, the Redcar Coatham Bowl, probably written by their then North East of England correspondent Phil Sutcliffe. As I recall, he was a writer was of eclectic interests, fair minded, but not someone whose tastes I would ordinarily have expected to run to an outfit such as Whitesnake. But their performance of Bobby Bland’s ‘Ain’t No Love In The Heart Of The City’ got his attention, and next thing he was gripped by Coverdale gulping his air into his lungs, the better to bawl “AH BIN MISTREATED!” Or something like that.
Anyway, spot on I reckon. I’ve always thought of it as a song that, vocally, Coverdale “owns”. Back then I was an even bigger fan of Rainbow, both for Ritchie Blackmore’s guitar and Ronnie James Dio’s vocals. But their version of ‘Mistreated’ on the live album Onstage somehow never did it for me in the same way. Whatever else I might think about David Coverdale, his blues-belting vocals made this his song. Check out this performance by Purple at the California Jam in 1974, with both Blackmore and Coverdale giving it plenty!