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Deep Purple - Machine Head

Review: 028
Date: 11 Jun 01

 


Rating: 5 Stars

Musicians:
1. Ian Paice – drums
2. Roger Glover – bass
3. Ian Gillan – vocals
4. Jon Lord – keyboards
5. Ritchie Blackmore – lead guitar

Tracks Listing:
1. Highway Star
2. Maybe I’m A Leo
3. Pictures Of Home
4. Never Before
5. Smoke On The Water
6. Lazy
7. Space Truckin’

 


In the eyes (and ears) of many, “Machine Head” is the quintessential Deep Purple album. When my peers start throwing round labels like heavy metal pioneers and hard rock landmarks, Machine Head is, like it or not (the band themselves don’t), the one they cite to back up their claims. The fact that the album contains the perennial millstone round the neck song and the bands best known song “Smoke On The Water” merely secures to further this train of thought.

Now, nearly thirty years on, the songs sound just as super charged as they did then. Underpinned by a tight rhythm department, metallic riffing from that doyen of society, Ritchie Blackmore, just a touch of a classical tinge in the keyboard breaks and text book ‘tongue in the cheek’, totally politically incorrect lyrics, all beautifully balanced with a clear modern sounding production job (engineered by a very young Eddie Offord), the album is still influential today. Musical shops across the world constantly have to brace themselves for yet another generation of spotty strat-copy buyers eager to impress with their dodgy attempts at Machine Head licks on the object of their dreams.

The songs themselves were to be the lynch pins of Deep Purple sets to the present day, seeing them through several lineups and reformations. In fact, Deep Purple’s last live album, “Total Abandon Live”, contains four of the seven songs recorded here.

The kick of “Highway Star” remains as powerful as ever. An opening shot few bands ever get close to emulating, pushed on relentlessly by Ian Paice, some glorious bass work from that master of the dirty side of Rock ‘n’ Roll, Roger Glover, Ian Gillan’s distinct screams, but it’s the work of Blackmore and Lord that really make everything tick (or should that be thud). Blackmore’s riffing is the best it has ever been, broken up by some oh so casual chord bashing. What is basically a very simple song structure is kept so busy that you hardly notice it as both Blackmore and Lord merge, the former throwing in a meticulous solo, which still thrills. Ian Paice, in turn, gives him the room to stretch for just so long before bashing back in as if to say: “Time Up!” To think that this song was written in the back of the Transit van on the way to a gig and then performed that night makes it all the more remarkable. It has stayed in every set list since then either opening or closing the show.

There are no fillers on this album (in fact, the fantastic “When A Blind Man Cries”, recorded at the Machine Head sessions had to be left off, eventually emerging as a flip side), they are all rock standards now. “Lazy”, with its dramatic organ introduction, was a logical extension of Lord’s on stage work. It drives Jon firmly back into the spotlight as he and Blackmore trade fun on a fast bluesy-based vehicle made for solo-ing.

“Space Truckin’” closes the album and gets back to the heart of Deep Purple in its original version, before Deep Purple took it out onto the boards, and eventually dragging it out into a 30 minute explosion of pure, hard rocking brilliance.

A lot of Deep Purple fans were turned on by the explosive live album “Made In Japan”, issued less than a year later. Machine Head (which, as usual, provided the bulk of the songs) suffered in comparison. However, at the end of the day it’s always the originals that stay with you the longest.

 

Pawed by Mott The Dog
Remastered by Ella Crew

E-mail: review@mott-the-dog.com


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