For every universally celebrated song, known to all and played to death by radio stations everywhere, there are countless hidden gems -- album cuts that, for reasons unclear, somehow missed their predestined date with classic-rock immortality.

Deep Purple’s ‘This Time Around / Owed to ‘G’’ -- a two-part masterpiece crafted by the short-lived Mark IV lineup -- was tucked away on the second half of that group's only album, 1975’s ‘Come Taste the Band.’

At the time, fans and critics were deeply divided over the departure of guitarist Ritchie Blackmore, and many wondered whether Deep Purple should have even bothered to carry on with his replacement, Tommy Bolin. After all, with Blackmore and his distinctive songwriting out of the picture, Bolin and singer-bassist Glenn Hughes found common ground in funk and other musical styles that, to some, outright disfigured Deep Purple’s recognizable sound on ‘Come Taste the Band.’

When the band finally collapsed within months of the album’s release -- amid ever-widening business, personal and creative rifts, not to mention escalating drug abuse that would soon claim Bolin’s life -- ‘This Time Around / Owed to ‘G’’ became just one of many tragic casualties of the fallout.

How else to explain how such an astonishingly inspired composition got lost? The first half melds Hughes’ soulful vocals (and bubbling bass) to Jon Lord’s graceful piano work, while the second showcases a majestic Bolero of Bolin’s creation, exquisitely supported by Ian Paice’s spot-on percussion.

While subsequent Deep Purple reunions (which included occasionally sub-par albums and frequent genre-hopping) have since helped improve ‘Come Taste the Band’'s historical standing, there’s little chance that the two-pronged hidden gem ‘This Time Around / Owed to ‘G’’ will ever receive its justly deserved recognition on a mainstream level. And that's a shame.

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