Deep Purple - Machine Head
Warner Bros. Records
Classic Metal
7 songs (37:46)
Release year: 1972
Deep Purple, Warner Bros. Records
Reviewed by Jay

According to the liner notes on the re-issue of this album on CD, “Two out of three hard music fans agree that heavy metal was born with Deep Purple’s “Machine Head”.” This album was landmark for many reasons. First, it was one of the first to display virtuoso musicians playing metal. While Black Sabbath was good, they could not even begin to match the skill of Blackmore, Gillian, Glover, Lord, and Paice. While this may not have been the birth of heavy metal (something I still attribute to Black Sabbath), it was definitely the seed that sprouted progressive rock and metal. Second, the high-pitched vocals on this disc courtesy of Mr. Ian Gillian. This established a new standard for vocals that has been copied over and over again. Third, the keyboard sounds on this album have influenced artists over and over still to today. Listen to Star One and you will hear it. Fourth and most importantly, Ritchie Blackmore on guitar. This man is incredible and established a new standard for guitar in the emerging hard rock sector.

Starting off with “Highway Star,” the gradual intro builds to a motor-like tempo complete with a keyboard tuned to the truck horn sound. This song gives you the feeling of racing down a highway at a bazillion km/h. The keyboards are what make this track along with Gillian’s awesome vocals. The keyboard solo however is terrific. It is noticeable that bands like Stratovarius who feature keyboard solos would not exist without the trailblazing work of this album. “Maybe I’m a Leo” is more of a blues styled song with a slower tempo. The drum work stands out immediately. The emotional highs and lows of the blues chord progression work well here especially paired with the well-calculated vocal lines. “Pictures of Home” starts out with one of the first double bass drum solos ever. This alone would be responsible for numerous other drum fills. Blackmore has such tone on his guitar when he plays the lead part. The vocal harmonies pair well with the haunting keyboard line that underlies the whole song. The solo in this track shreds. While not super speedy, it is more blues oriented with an emphasis on quality soloing instead of just blasting through a solo.

Never Before” has a jazzy intro with slap-bass and reggae style timings and synths. The song does turn into a progressive masterpiece quickly. This music was so revolutionary because you just never had drummers inserting fills in the verse parts of songs. “Lazy” in contrast is a long drawn out soloing match for the first two minutes. Blackmore battles the keyboards of Jon Lord. Then the song starts and it is basically the same thing with bass and drum support. The solos are magnificent and the instrumental solo track was thus born. This one even has a harmonica solo for a small part. Elements of so many contemporary songs can be heard in this one piece of music. “Space Truckin’” which I’m sure has had an incredible influence on the Star One guys is one of my favorite songs. While setup as a progressive blues song, the riff of the chorus is one of the most memorable riffs ever written. The call-and-response chorus section also makes this song embed in your brain. Who can argue when Gillian suggests we go Space Truckin’?

Always the first song people think of when Deep Purple is mentioned is “Smoke on the Water.” This riff defined metal. I mean really, where would we be without this AOR staple? This song has remained in the conscious of the world’s populace since this album debuted. It has been used in countless advertisements and covered by artists from Metalium to Six Feet Under. Funny that people almost never pay attention to the lyrics of this song. They detail the actual recording of this album. As legend has it, the studio Deep Purple was to record in burned down when a man shot off a flare gun inside a casino. This started a fire that destroyed the studio. Luckily for them, the Rolling Stones mobile recording studio saved them and they recorded the album there. What can I say about the song that established AOR for chrissakes? Music as we know it would not be what it is today without this song. It is the best metal hook ever written and might be the best hook ever written.

If you like Dream Theater or Star One and don’t like this album, there is something very wrong with you. Deep Purple started a genre and this album was one of the major catalysts.

Killing Songs :
All of them but the best are Smoke on the Water, Highway Star, Space Truckin’ and Lazy.
Jay quoted CLASSIC
Other albums by Deep Purple that we have reviewed:
Deep Purple - Whoosh! reviewed by Goat and quoted 85 / 100
Deep Purple - Who Do We Think We Are reviewed by Thomas and quoted 81 / 100
Deep Purple - Fireball reviewed by Thomas and quoted CLASSIC
Deep Purple - Deep Purple in Rock reviewed by Thomas and quoted CLASSIC
Deep Purple - History, Hits & Highlights '68 - '76 (DVD) reviewed by Marty and quoted no quote
To see all 11 reviews click here
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