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Deep Purple - Machine Head

2009-09-02 07:43
 
 
It was a collective effort, to be sure, but three individual albums still stand out for their contribution to heaviness in the decade that rock ‘n roll’s balls dropped for good. They were Led Zeppelin IV, Black Sabbath’s Paranoid and Machine Head, by fellow Brits band Deep Purple.

Machine Head is only seven tracks long, but like countless teenagers would discover while listening to it, you can’t sprint a marathon. Which is to say, Deep Purple pack so much heaviness into their seminal septet of grooves that no one minds when the ending comes so soon.

What’s more, it’s an album that gains a lot from its surrounding history, having charted just before the economic gloom of 1973, predating (and leading up to) the bawdier hard rock and heavy metal of the 1980s and making the airy fairy hippies of yore look like airy fairy hippies. Machine Head was just a rock album at the time, but has since become something more. Similarly, the opener “Highway Star” is really just about a car, but the huge groove implies much more, comprising almost everything you can do in a car: make love, see the world and get really, really high.

“Pictures of Home” isn’t revered as much as the titanic “Smoke on the Water” or anthemic “Lazy”, but is no less of an essential, essential track. Ritchie Blackmore’s soloing rings with irrepressible majesty, a quality Brian May perfected with Queen and which many guitarists strive for even today.

Let’s revisit one of the ‘biggest rock riffs of all time’. “Smoke on the Water” is big, to be sure, but it’s a song that can get lost in its own hype and reputation. It deserves to be untethered and enjoyed on its own terms. Listen again and you’ll find a tour-bus jam about the events of a strange episode in Switzerland. No jetting off into space, or onto the highway, no “Smoke on the Bong-Water”, even. It’s a quaint little story. But with that iconic riff propelling it forward, it takes on the dimensions of a Deep Purple song: colossal, groovy, heavy. Experiencing this growth for yourself is a great way to enjoy classics of any kind.

Machine Head relieved, for a while, one band’s insatiable appetite for the epic (this after recording the monumental “Child In Time” in 1970). And ours. “Lazy” and “Space Truckin”, though quite different songs, are equally arrogant creations, insisting on taking listeners for a ride and then dumping them back on planet Earth only once their dizzy streams-of-uncosciousness have run their course.

Epic? Of course Machine Head is ‘epic’, but that raises a matter which is still a cause of great disappointment. In the thirty-odd years since, haven’t we come up with a 'bigger' word than 'epic'?
Say what you want about disco – but the 1970s belonged to rock 'n roll.

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(Comments may be edited or deleted at the Channel24 editors’ discretion)
Hein Smit 9/2/2009 8:03 AM
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Hey,I grew up with them and they were the BEST!!!!
Hein Smit 9/2/2009 8:04 AM
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Hey,I grew up with them and they were the BEST!!!!
Ed Rybicki 9/2/2009 12:12 PM
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Kiiiiiiif...seriously, bru! That opening sequence of "Smoke on the water", played LOOOUUUD...I still get into trouble with the family for that. As for "Lazy" and "Space truckin'": say no more; REALLY good, hard rock n'roll without the pretension of "Child in Time" and other offerings. But there were so may good rock tracks from around then, that started so well: Ten Years After, and "Love like a man"; Cream's "Crossroads" and "Sunshine of your love"; Chicago's "25 or 6 to 4"; Zeppelin's "Whole lotta love" and ESPECIALLY "Black dog". Happy times, happy times...thanks!
Ed Rybicki 9/2/2009 12:14 PM
Kiiiiiiif...seriously, bru! That opening sequence of "Smoke on the water", played LOOOUUUD...I still get into trouble with the family for that. As for "Lazy" and "Space truckin'": say no more; REALLY good, hard rock n'roll without the pretension of "Child in Time" and other offerings. But there were so may good rock tracks from around then, that started so well: Ten Years After, and "Love like a man"; Cream's "Crossroads" and "Sunshine of your love"; Chicago's "25 or 6 to 4"; Zeppelin's "Whole lotta love" and ESPECIALLY "Black dog". Happy times, happy times...thanks!
Deepest Purple 9/2/2009 2:28 PM
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Legendary! Get the DVD about the making of this album, it's very insightful & interesting & if you're into this kind of stuff then also check out Budgie, Rush & Uriah Heep \m/
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