Tuesday, 13 November 2018

Deep Purple - Machine Head (1972)


Released March 1972

Recorded in Montreux, Switzerland

There were four truly classic Deep Purple albums - "In Deep" (1970); "Fireball" (1971); this one from 1972 and "Burn" from 1974. This is possibly the most popular and, in many ways, is the band at their absolute peak. The band were all about huge drums, mighty guitar riffs, wailing vocals and frenetic, church organist gone crazy keyboards. They were the best at what they did - big heavy, clunky, bluesy, powerful rock in its most essential form.


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'

The opener is an absolute killer, "Highway Star" and features one of the best organ vs guitar battles in rock history as Jon Lord and Ritchie Blackmore trade riffs. The song never lets up from its furious tempo and Ian Gillan's vocal is one of his best. He was one of the great heavy rock vocalists, without question. At the time, I was a teenager into glam rock, David Bowie, Roxy Music and Mott The Hoople and I have subsequently learnt to love Deep Purple, but even then I remember borrowing this album from a friend and loving this dynamic track. Some may find "Maybe I'm A Leo" a tad plodding, but it has a solid bluesy thump to it that I find pretty irresistible. "Pictures of Home" is a bit "proggy" in its stylings at times, but this is blown away by the pounding drums and searing guitar solo half way through. When Purple hit those drum/guitar/organ interlays there is no-one to match them of their kind. Just check out the bass solo on this one too. Phenomenal.

"Never Before" starts with some rhythmic but muscular drums and an almost funky guitar intro before we get a classic Gillan vocal - "my woman, a bad woman...." in true seventies, long haired, be-denimmed style. Then, of course, there is the iconic "Smoke On The Water" with that riff that has inspired ten billion plus air guitar poses. Apart from the riff, I have always loved the percussion on it, and Jon Lord's punchy, swirling organ. Gillan's vocal is peerless, it goes without saying. A true classic of its genre. It is still loved by many all these years later. There really is nothing better. The sound on this latest remaster is breathtakingly powerful.

"Lazy" starts with Jon Lord doing his mad church organ thing, like a demented professor of music before the band kicks in and Gillan's bluesy vocals don't arrive until after four and a half minutes. Some blues harmonica joins in and we get the purest bit of blues rock from the band on the album. "Space Truckin'" is a glorious, riffy closer with Ritchie Blackmore commanding the whole thing from beginning to end, driving a stake into one's heart. This is, without a doubt, one of the finest hard rock albums of all time. A fine example of its genre.


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