[Review] Deep Purple: Machine Head (1972)

Hard rock, heavy metal, call it what you want, Machine Head is an absolute classic.

Kronomyth 7.0: In case of fire, use stairway to heaven.

Yeah, I know, “Smoke on the Water.” You probably hate that song. It’s to the bass guitar what “Stairway to Heaven” is to the acoustic guitar. If you really want to hear a bass guitar riff, start with Roger Glover’s solo on “Pictures of Home” or the opening to “Highway Star.” That’s some of the most badass bass playing on any record, ever.

Machine Head suffers from the same overexposure as Led Zeppelin’s fourth album. It’s become synonymous with classic rock, so much so that anyone with even a passing interest in rock (from Pat Benatar fans to Pantera fans) will be glad to tell you it’s one of the greatest albums ever made. And, while they’re saying it, you’re thinking “Wow, even greater than Tropico/Far Beyond Driven?” because, you know, you’re kind of a sarcastic jerk sometimes.

I remember the first time I played Deep Purple In Rock, “Speed King” blew me away. “Fireball” was good, but “Highway Star,” now that’s the way to open a Deep Purple album. I used to drive a 1971 Firebird V8 350 and I am so glad I didn’t have Machine Head on cassette back then; I might have killed somebody. (I’m only partially kidding, since I managed to get into a car accident listening to Sabotage in the Firebird, and Machine Head is way heavier.)

You’re probably thinking that Machine Head is regarded as Purple’s majesty because it has “Smoke on the Water” on it, but that’s not true. It’s their best album because it would still be their greatest album if it didn’t have “Smoke on the Water” on it. “Highway Star,” “Pictures of Home” and “Space Truckin’” are epic Purple. And we haven’t even got to the hit single yet, “Never Before.” Toss in two blistering blues-rock numbers (“Maybe I’m A Leo,” “Lazy”) that stick Jon Lord’s organ right in your face, and Machine Head’s immortality is etched in stone. Then you add “Smoke on the Water,” the band’s brilliant depiction of hell on earth, and that’s how you make the most monster rock album of its time.

Machine Head is Mark II’s finest forty minutes. In Blackmore and Paice you probably had one of the best guitarists and drummers in the business, but it’s on Machine Head that you realize what a great addition Gillan and Glover are to the band. And while I’d been wondering why Jon Lord still stuck around, I’m glad he did for Machine Head since he has a lot to contribute. Along with Master of Reality and Zoso, this is the birth of heavy metal, a bloody miracle.

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Original elpee version

A1. Highway Star (6:05)
A2. Maybe I’m A Leo (4:51)
A3. Pictures of Home (5:03)
A4. Never Before (3:56)
B1. Smoke On The Water (5:40)
B2. Lazy (7:19)
B3. Space Truckin’ (4:31)

All songs written by Ritchie Blackmore/Ian Gillan/Roger Glover/Jon Lord/Ian Paice.

Expanded CD bonus track
8. When A Blind Man Cries

25th anniversary 2CD remastered version
A1. Highway Star (remix) (6:40)
A2. Maybe I’m A Leo (remix) (5:26)
A3. Pictures of Home (remix) (5:21)
A4. Never Before (remix) (3:59)
A5. Smoke On The Water (remix) (6:18)
A6. Lazy (remix) (7:33)
A7. Space Truckin’ (remix) (4:52)
A8. When A Blind Man Cries (remix) (3:52)
B1. Highway Star (6:08)
B2. Maybe I’m A Leo (4:52)
B3. Pictures of Home (5:03)
B4. Never Before (4:00)
B5. Smoke On The Water (5:42)
B6. Lazy (7:23)
B7. Space Truckin’ (4:34)
B8. When A Blind Man Cries (3:32)
B9. Maybe I’m A Leo (quadrophonic mix) (4:59)
B10. Lazy (quadrophonic mix) (6:55)

Bonus DSD multichannel compact disc (SACD 2003)
B1. Highway Star
B2. Maybe I’m A Leo
B3. Pictures of Home
B4. Never Before
B5. Smoke On The Water
B6. Lazy
B7. Space Truckin’
B8. Maybe I’m A Leo (alternate mix)
B9. Lazy (alternate mix)
B10. When A Blind Man Cries

Japanese 2016 2CD reissue
A1. Highway Star
A2. Maybe I’m A Leo
A3. Pictures of Home
A4. Never Before
A5. Smoke On The Water
A6. Lazy
A7. Space Truckin’
A8. When A Blind Man Cries
B1. Highway Star
B2. Maybe I’m A Leo
B3. Pictures of Home
B4. Never Before
B5. Smoke On The Water
B6. Lazy
B7. Space Truckin’
B8. Smoke On The Water (single edit)
B9. Lazy (single edit)

The Players

Ritchie Blackmore (guitar), Ian Gillan (vocals, harmonica), Roger Glover (bass), Jon Lord (keyboards), Ian Paice (drums, percussion). Produced by Deep Purple; engineered by Martin Birch.

The Pictures

Photography by Shepard Sherbell. Cover design by Roger Glover and John Coletta.

The Plastic

Released on elpee and 8-track in April 1972 in the UK (Purple, TPSA 7504), the US (Warner Bros., BS/M8 2607), France (Purple, 2C 064-93.261), Germany (Horzu/Purple, SHZE 344) and Yugoslavia (Jugoton, SPU-70502) with gatefold cover and lyrics poster; reached #1 on the UK charts and #7 on the US charts. 8-track features different track order.

  1. Re-issued on elpee and quadraphonic elpee in the US and Canada (Warner Bros., BS/BS4 2607) {burbank label} with gatefold cover and lyrics poster.
  2. Re-issued on elpee in Japan (Warner Bros., P-8224W) {burbank label} with gatefold cover and lyrics poster.
  3. Re-issued on elpee in Japan (Warner Bros., P-10130W) {burbank label} with gatefold cover and lyrics poster.
  4. Re-issued on elpee and cassette in the US (Warner Bros., BSK/M5 3100) {shield logo}.
  5. Re-issued on elpee in Japan (Warner Bros., P-6507W) {shield logo} with gatefold cover and lyrics poster.
  6. Re-issued on picture disc elpee in the UK (EMI/Harvest, EG 26 0345 0).
  7. Re-issued on elpee and cassette in October 1986 in the UK (Fame, FA/41 3158) and Spain (EMI/Purple, 256-1932614).
  8. Re-issued on compact disc in the US (Warner Bros., 3100-2).
  9. Re-issued on compact disc on February 10, 1989 in Japan (Warner, 20P2-2605).
  10. Re-issued on elpee in 1993 in Korea (EMI, EKPL-0300) and Russia (Antrop, ATR 30099).
  11. Re-released on remastered compact disc on October 10, 1996 in Japan (Warner, WPCR-867).
  12. Re-released as 25th Anniversary Edition on expanded, remixed & remastered 2CD in 1997 in the US (Warner Bros) with 11 bonus tracks.
  13. Re-released on expanded super audio compact disc in 2003 in the UK (EMI, 538 601-2) with 10 bonus tracks.
  14. Re-released on 180g vinyl and clear vinyl elpee in 2006 in the US (Rhino, R1 75622) with gatefold cover.
  15. Re-issued on remastered compact disc in 2006 in Japan (Warner, WPCR-12255).
  16. Re-released on super high material compact disc on December 10, 2008 in Japan (Warner, WPCR-13233).
  17. Re-released on 24k gold remastered compact disc in 2010 in the US (Audio Fidelity, AFZ 065).
  18. Re-released on SACD on August 17, 2011 in Japan (Warner, WPCR-14166) with one bonus track.
  19. Re-released as 40th Anniversary Edition on 4CD+DVD in 2012 in the US (Purple, TPSAD 7504) with bonus discs of different mixes.
  20. Re-issued on remastered compact disc on June 24, 2015 in Japan (Warner, WPCR-80217).
  21. Re-released on purple vinyl elpee in 2018 in the Netherlands (Universal) with gatefold cover.
  22. Re-released on expanded SMHCD on May 25, 2016 in Japan (Warner, WPCR-17190/1) with bonus quadraphonic mix and bonus tracks.

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