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Deep Purple - Machine Head CD (album) cover

MACHINE HEAD

Deep Purple

 

Proto-Prog

4.28 | 818 ratings

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ZowieZiggy
Prog Reviewer
5 stars Machine Head. Seventy two. I was lying in my bed for about ten months that year due to a leg injury. I had nothing to do but listen to music which I did about ten (10) hours a day, almost everyday (since I was laying in the living room, I had to make a break on week-ends to allow my father to watch television). I was thirteen. I was already addicted to Led Zep, Santana, and Purple. In May of the same year, I received "Slade Alive !" so, I was ready to rock even if I couldn't move for an inch ! This album reached my home in May 1972 and I can tell you that I spinned it an awful lots of time (and still do till now - January 1st 2007). This is the third album of the fabulous trilogy (In Rock, Fireball, Machine Head).

One of their best song ever opens the album. "Highway Star" : from the very first seconds you know that something great is going to happen. The introduction of this song is absolutely FANTASTIC. I have not heard anything like it since then. I'm listening to it again while correcting/finalizing this review and as always I get the shivers. I already have mentioned that the inspiration for this intro was noticeable in their live album "Scandinavian Nights" during their extended version of "Mandrake Root" (around minute twenty to be precise). It is a fabulous piece of hard rock music : each member at his peak. The format is quite traditional for Purple since "In Rock" : great intro, an organ solo, then a guitar one (or reverse). Typical for Mark II but this song has definitely a kick that will never be achieved further on ("Burn" coming close though). The vocal part was also pretty much inspired by "Hard Lovin' Man" from "In Rock". I don't know if it's my preferred song of the Purple (it is so close to "Child") but it is one of the greatest rock song I know. When they play it live (more as a closing number nowadays) I turn virtually almost mad. I am really looking forward to see them again (for the fifth time) in May 2007 even if the energy has lowered a bit. "Maybe I'm A Leo" is a conservative Purple track : slow but heavy tempo (similar to "Bloodsucker" on "In Rock"). In comparison with the other tracks, this one is just average (but of course the struggle is very hard on this album). "Pictures Of Home" is just another fabulous song : almost ignored in their live sets and compilations it is great Purple song. Same structure as "Highway Star"but shorter, very melodious and very efficient. Incredible keyboard and drumming playing. It should really deserve more recognition amongst Purple / music lovers. "Never Before" closes side one of the original LP. Another great moment of the Purple history. It rocks alright and Gillan is so passionate here than he reflects this feeling to the whole band. Superb combination of melodious vocals and hard rocking tune. Great guitar break in the middle section and strong keys at the end.

B-Side opens with "Smoke On The Water". At the time of release, I considered it just an OK tune. Great riff of course, lyrics describing their problem to record the album etc. I could never have imagined at that time that it would become one of their live anthem for the decades to come. "Lazy" is a marvelous moment of prog/ hard / jazzy / bluesy rock. Jon and Ritchie are once more at their best : their complicity is on par with the one of Ritchie and Ian on the live version of "Strange Kind Of Woman". It has always been one of my "Machine Head" fave. Outrageaous keys and definitely Lord's most influenced track. Another highlight for their live performances but I'll discuss this further on with my "Made In Japan" review. "Space Truckin'" is 100% pure hard rock song which has nothing to do with any "space" stuff. Good closing number for this fantastic hard rock album.

The 25th Anniversary version of the album contains a second CD with alternate takes of each song. Most are pretty close to the final ones. They are just a bit longer though. IMO, the alternate take for "Smoke" is better than the version we all know. "When The Blind Man Cries" released as B-side of their single "Never Before" and "Lazy" (edited version) is a great rock ballad. Actually, it is quite reminiscent of the Mark I era. Very good. There are also two "quad" mix fro "Maybe I'm A Leo" and "Lazy". Since I do not have the appropriate audio equipment I can not really judge them. For me they are just the same as the classic versions. "Machine Head" is one of the holy hard rock masterpiece ("In Rock" being the first one). It will reach Nr. 1 in the UK and Nr. 7 in the US. In my heart it is ranked pretty high. Five stars of course.

ZowieZiggy | 5/5 |

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