Sunday, April 22, 2007

"Machine Head" - Deep Purple

Is there any rock dude who hasn’t heard of the immortal “Smoke On The Water”? For some it’s the most overplayed piece of crap in the history of music. For some, the intro is the ultimate guitar riff.

Luckily for Deep Purple, the album that included this classic isn’t just good for that one song. “Machine Head”, released in 1972 by this supergroup, is worthy of being called one of the most prominent rock albums in the development of the heavy metal and speed metal genre. For all guitar-inclined musicians all over like myself, it is a treasure chest of kick-ass riffs and a combination of classical-music-meets-blues inspired licks.

The album kicks off with the fast-paced “Highway Star”. One of their most recognizable songs, it boasts of complicated guitar and organ solos by Ritchie Blackmore and Jon Lord, respectively. It was so popular that Nintendo presented a version of the tune in their video game, Rock N’ Roll Racing. “Highway Star” is definitely one of my favorites. We used to jam this song in our cover band and everytime the solo part comes, I get goosebumps all over.

“Maybe I’m Leo” is a somewhat slower piece with a bit of groove going on while “Pictures of Home” begins with an emphatic display of mastery of the drums by Ian Paice. Like most of the songs in this release, both tracks have more that its share of fretboard brilliance by Blackmore and keyboard fireworks by Lord. But the latter has a little something that others don’t have – a rare bass solo by Roger Glover!

The next track, “Never Before”, is the shortest in the list. Aside from that, I felt that this is their weakest track. However, that would be a result of comparing it with the overall might of the other songs in this partuicular album. Compared to any lesser rock songs, this is defintely topnotch.

The last three songs closes the “Machine Head” experience with a loud bang. “Smoke on the Water” doesn’t need any introduction anymore. The next song “Lazy” sounds like a jam to me. It starts out with a Lord organ intro, then followed by an exchange of solos between him and Blackmore. We all know that Blackmore has been declared numerous times a guitar god, but Jon Lord wasn’t gonna make Ritchie walk all over him in this instance, or any other instance for that matter. Jon Lord is unquestionably one of the most talented organ player I’ve ever heard.

Finally the last song “Space Truckin’” has probably the most kick-ass intro riff in the whole set for me. This is the song that I really want to play with our group but unfortunately for me I’m the only in our band who likes it. I wonder why this never reached the same status as "Smoke on the Water". On the other hand, I think it’s better that way. With this scenario, there is a healthy balance between overly popular songs and tunes with less exposure that won't undermine the legacy of this brilliantly-crafted tour de force.

Release: 1972
Tracks listing:
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'

Band members:
Ian Gillan - vocals, harmonica
Ritchie Blackmore - lead guitar
Jon Lord - piano, organ, keyboards
Roger Glove - bass guitar
Ian Paice - drums

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