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Deep Purple - Machine Head CD (album) cover

MACHINE HEAD

Deep Purple

 

Proto-Prog

4.27 | 833 ratings

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Queen By-Tor
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars In the early days of heavy metal...

...Deep Purple were gods and masters of their craft. Mk II Deep Purple's albums are considered classic works in just about every circle of music from classic rock to hard rock and metal, even in progressive realms. While the music may not be a symphonic epic-fest it certainly is progressive in its own rights, given how many musicians it has inspired over the years, and how much it helped change hard rock in general. This is often considered the band's pinnacle album, although many would dispute that In Rock claims this title. Regardless of you you are though, you can't deny the influence of this album, nor the reasons why it is so influential. With Machine Head, Deep Purple creates a mix of tunes so perfect and so varied that they compliment each other at different edges of the heavy metal universal spectrum. They all gel together so perfectly that it could be called a match made in heaven. From the heavy riffs provided by master axeman Ritchie Blackmore, to Lord's token organ sound to Glover's mean bass playing and solos to Paice's manic skins topped all off with the demonic lungs of Ian Gillian, this is the hard rock album of the ages.

Each and every song on this collection is simply amazing, and purely classic. Immortalized these days by the video game industry and multiple commercials for games like Rock Band we start out with the shrill shriek of Gillian as we get right into Highway Star, likely one of the best adrenaline builders an album has ever started out with. heavy riffs and a mean organ create a brilliant atmosphere, not to mention that the soloing on this track is simply stunning. Hold tight indeed. Another rocker seemingly made out of pure energy is the blistering Pictures Of Home, which opens with a short drum spasm from Paice before blasting into riffing and soloing from Blackmore. A catchy chorus and some great hooks make this likely the most memorable shorter song on the album. Lord and Gillian combine to make for a very malevolent feeling surrounding the song which is heightened by the frantic guitar. Space Truckin' is another well known song from the album which gets a lot of airplay. A nice little heavy trip from the band which is rather lighthearted, but no less effective. Never Before and Maybe I'm A Leo are reminiscent of the band's Fireball days in their more paced and bluesy approach. Never Before features some excellent vocal work and a very impressive organ solo from Lord while Maybe I'm A Leo sticks to it's slow pace and still makes for a rocking track.

And of course we have to get to that oh so obligatory track. Smoke On The Water is one of those songs that everyone has heard way too many times. Frequent FM airplay, as well as anyone who ever in their lifetime picked up a guitar anywhere in a 50 mile radius of you means that this song is probably one of the best known songs in the world. Not everyone knows who played it (''Smoke on the Water... that's Black Sabbath, right!?''), but everyone knows that chugging riff. Of course the song is still impressive when you want to just sit down and listen to the damn thing, and it's not playing on some car commercial or something. Glover's bass really picks up the song right from the start after the main riff kicks in and Lord's subtle organ is actually the main driving force of the song. An excellent song, even if you fancy yourself sick to tears of it.

The other tune worth mentioning in its own paragraph is the album's opus. Lazy is really anything but. At 7 and a half minutes this is also the one that proggers are going to be eyeing like a kid passing a toy store on the street. Lord's organs create a killer overture that eventually turns into some kind of blues/prog/metal fusion monster that, while it's no Child In Time, could probably satisfy most discerning proggers. Bliss from start to finish.

This is an essential, classic rock album - no doubt about that. It would be a big stretch to call this a progressive rock masterpiece, but it certainly can contend. Still, this one is going to get a big 4.5 out of 5. It's hard to know if people will like this one more than Fireball or In Rock, but if one thing is certain - you need to hear this album sometime in your life, and it's pretty much inevitable that you will.

Queen By-Tor | 4/5 |

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