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Deep Purple – Machine Head

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machine head

machine head

SONG RATING
Highway Star   10.0
Maybe I’m A Leo     6.8
Pictures Of Home     6.9
Never Before     7.1
Smoke On The Water   10.0
Lazy     7.8
Space Truckin’     8.8
Average     8.2

Released - March, 1972 on Warner Bros. Records. Produced by Deep Purple

Ian Gillan – Lead and Backing Vocals
Ritchie Blackmore – Guitars
Roger Glover – Bass
Jon Lord – Keyboards
Ian Paice – Drums

All songs written by Blackmore, Gillan, Glover, Lord, Paice

REVIEW

Machine Head is the album that some heavy metal fans claim to be the very first full-fledged metal album ever made. In fact, in the CD’s inside package it goes one step further and states that “two out of three hard rock fans agree that heavy metal was born” with this album.

Really? Where did they come up with that figure?  I find that hard to believe, and it seems to be a totally ridiculous claim. Heck, compare it to other hard rock albums that came about around the same time (1972) or even a few years earlier and that statement can’t even be close to the truth. Two out of three fans claim this? Well, maybe a few do, but two out of three? Where are all of these people?

Yes, this is a fine hard rock LP, but is it true heavy metal? Metal music sounds very different today so we can’t go by today’s standards, but, let’s face it, back in 1972, bands like Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin – and their albums – sounded more metal like than this one. I believe one could call this LP “a great hard rock album” at best. It just doesn’t sound like true metal to me!

The best song on this album, which contains perhaps one of the all time great guitar rock riffs ever, is “Smoke On the Water”,  written about a real event that took place on December 4, 1971. The band was about to record this album at the Casino in Montreux, Switzerland when “the gambling house” caught on fire and burned to the ground during a live performance by Frank Zappa. Yes, “some stupid with a flare gun” really was to blame for the fire.

The song’s title came from bassist Roger Glover, who witnessed the smoke from the fire spreading over Lake Geneva. “Funky Claude” was Claude Nobs, a friend of the band, who really did help save people from the fire. He later on helped the band find a new place to record the album, over at the deserted Montreux Grand Hotel, and they recorded using the Rolling Stones Mobile Studio, mentioned in the song as the “Rolling truck Stones thing”, as they really were “making music with the mobile”.

Yet as great a story this song told, it’s that Richie Blackmore riff, played on a Fender Stratocaster electric guitar, that is remembered the most with this tune. The one riff that all new guitar players seem to learn first – or at least want to learn first – and it seems to be still loved even by today’s 21st Century kids. It should be noted that keyboardist’s Jon Lord also gets in the act on this song, playing the same riff on the organ, especially when it was played live, making for one great guitar/organ weave.

There is another masterpiece song on Machine Head, the album’s opening number, “Highway Star”. Perhaps this is the most metal-like song on here, with Ian Gillan’s vocals part of the reason for that, but Backmore’s guitar is on fire on this one, too.

We get to hear yet another fantastic and catchy guitar riff from Backmore on the LP’s closing tune, “Space Truckin’ “. But before that, there is the part instrumental “Lazy”, which is also excellent. After the first 4:25 of the song, Gillan’s vocals kick in. In some similar songs, one might ask – why ruin a good instrumental with singing in the second half of the song? Well, that isn’t the case here. The lyrics fit, and by the song’s end we are treated to one fine little package.

I never owned this album when it first came out as one of my best friends had it, and, since he was a Deep Purple freak, I got to hear it plenty. The much more metal-sounding Burn, up to a few months ago, was the only album put out by this band I ever owned. But the family wanted me to get this LP, as they totally dig it, and now that I’ve had it for the past few months it has grown on me some. But no, it still doesn’t sound or feel like heavy metal to me, just a good hard rocking album!

Keno
Courtesy of:
www.keno.org

THE SCENE


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