From the Vault: Deep Purple – Machine Head

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Deep Purple is without a doubt one of the most influential bands in rock music. Richie Blackmore’s riff-age and the bands over-all heaviness helped shape what would become hard rock and heavy metal, while their technical prowess, occasional lengthy sonic adventures, and the legendary Jon Lord’s Hammond organ helped pave the way for progressive rock. I could have picked from several DP albums, but I went with Machine Head as It’s their most successful album and it features one song that EVERYBODY knows: Smoke on the Water.

Highway Star is the fastest song on the album and is a great way to start an LP. It is a fairly simple track, but the rhythm section keeps your head banging or your fist pumping while the organ and guitar solos keep it fresh and interesting. I’m a bit of a Jon Lord fan boy thanks to my prog rock roots, so I’ll keep my gushing in check, but I’ll just say that his quick solo in this is one of my definitive organ solos. Then Blackmore comes in with his double tracked duel guitar solo. Bach would be proud of you both.
*****

Maybe I’m A Leo slows it down a bit for a more groovy romp. It’s a fun track that has some interesting bits (it’s one of very few songs to not start on a downbeat) but as a whole it’s not a mind blowing track. I don’t skip the song, but I don’t usually seek it out either.
***

Pictures of Home starts with some intense Ian Paice work on the skins before we kick in to some very prog rock lyrics.

“Somebody’s shouting up at a mountain
Only my own words return
Nobody’s up there, it’s a deception
When will I ever learn?

I’m alone here
With emptiness, eagles and snow
Unfriendliness chilling my body
And whispering pictures of home”

Pictures of home is probably my favorite song the album. I love the campy lyrics,multiple instrument solos, and general upbeat fun that the song brings.

*****

Never Before was surprisingly one of the first singles from the album (along with Smoke on the Water, of coarse). It’s not a bad heavy blues rock track, but it’s fairly lackluster compared to Pictures from Home, Lazy, and Highway Star. It has a decent Lords solo at the tail end, but not a lot else for me.
***

Smoke on the Water is one of the most defining song in all of rock music. It’s an unwritten rule that all guitarists must learn three song: Stairway to Heaven by Led Zeppelin, Freebird by Lynard Skynard, and Smoke on the Water by Deep Purple. This was one of my favorite songs as a child, but classic rock radio has unfortunately played it so much that it has lost a lot of it’s shimmer for me. I can still appreciate it’s verse’s use of bass and organ to really deepen the sound to a rich pallet  but the chorus is too overplayed. It also has a Lord solo, surprise surprise, so that’s cool
*** 1/2

Lazy is another Jon Lord heavy track, so of coarse I love it. It’s one that builds and builds and it’s seven and a half minute run time allows the song to grow and breath and include a harmonica solo, and who doesn’t like those?
*****
Space Truckin has some powerful vocals and drums and a catchy chorus. It’s a fun track and it works well as a closer, but I don‘t really have a lot to say about it.
****

Bottom Line: Puts the classic in classic rock and is a great example of proto-metal and proto-prog. I recommend it for any music fans to have a passing respect for these guys as they are a highly influential band in rock music and music in general.

****
Four stars.

See you cats soon!
Respect the vest!
AG Zero

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