Artist : Deep Purple
Album : Machine Head
Released : March 25, 1972
Metal Mofo Album Rating : 5/5 (One Of The Holy Grails Of Heavy Metal/Hard Rock Music.)
For many years the greatest band not in the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame was Deep Purple. In fact, it was such a glaring omission that it pretty much proved the institution has no respect, or no clue what Heavy Metal music, and the artists who pioneered it were about. One of the legendary three bands along with Led Zeppelin, and Black Sabbath to be the main pioneers of Heavy Metal music, they have always been disrespected and misunderstood by critics. It also hasn’t helped matters that they have had more lineup changes than most other legendary bands. That being said the lineup known as the “Mark II” consisting of Ian Gillan on vocals, Ritchie Blackmore on guitar, Roger Glover on bass, Jon Lord on keyboards, and Ian Paice on drums should’ve been first ballot “Hall Of Famers”. That version of the band is just as responsible as anyone in introducing a harder rock sound to the masses.
By late 1971 both Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath had released the two landmark records Led Zeppelin IV, and Paranoid. Deep Purple had taken a step backwards after the first record by the “Mark II” lineup called “In Rock” by changing directions with their 1971 record “Fireball” which was no where as successful as the other two records mentioned. In order to keep pace with Zeppelin and Sabbath, Purple knew they had to get back to the hard driving rock sound of their first album together. Things actually didn’t start off well for the band, but they would turn a tragedy into their most famous song, and with the exception of “Stairway To Heaven” the most popular guitar riff of all time. The Montreux Casino they had planned to record their new album at would burn down during a Frank Zappa concert. This would prompt the band to write the now famous “Smoke On The Water”.
After that more delays would come when lead singer Ian Gillian contacted hepatitis. And it would take awhile for the band to find a suitable place to continue recording. They would end up using the famous “Rolling Stones Mobile” studio, and set up in an empty Grand Hotel to finish the album. Which made it a hassle to get through to go listen to the playbacks outside at the mobile studio, having to go through numerous rooms, hallways and staircases, but even with that inconvenience they were able to make it all work in the end.
Once people heard the opening tracks of their new album “Machine Head” titled “Highway Star” it was immediately evident that Purple was back to the hard rocking sound their fans wanted. In fact it contains some of Ritchie Blackmore’s greatest guitar playing, and shows the chemistry that he had with Keyboard/Organ player Jon Lord, as they seem to feed off each other the same way dueling guitarists like Duane Allman, and Dickey Betts of The Allman Brothers Band did during the same era. This album would make Deep Purple one of the biggest bands in the world, but they couldn’t really keep the momentum going. Just a couple years later singer Ian Gillian and bass player Roger Glover would leave the band putting an end to the “Mark II” lineup until years later when they would reunite to do the Perfect Strangers album. It’s too bad, because in the 1970s they could’ve given us so much more had they stayed together.
All songs written by Ritchie Blackmore, Ian Gillan, Roger Glover, Jon Lord and Ian Paice.
1. “Highway Star” – 6:05
2. “Maybe I’m a Leo” – 4:51
3. “Pictures of Home” – 5:03
4. “Never Before” – 3:56
1. “Smoke on the Water” – 5:40
2. “Lazy” – 7:19
3. “Space Truckin'” – 4:31