Deep Purple is the Hard Rock band, that deserves so much more respect and attention than what is normally given them. How often are the usual cast of characters brought up in Rock and Hard Rock conversations, articles and televised documentaries; you know the ones and these bands deserve their just due, praise and remembrance. Still, in the midst of Led Zeppelin, The Who, Black Sabbath, The Doors and of course, the Beatles… was Deep Purple. Deep Purple made some momentous and historical Rock Music of their own. Can I confidently say that Deep Purple was a band as commercially big as the other’s just mentioned? Of course no. I will state, that in my Metal opinion, Deep Purple was and always will be considered just as important of a contributor, to the history of Rock and Roll. Consistency in the form of personnel at the lead guitar and lead singer positions are two critical elements missing from the biography of Deep Purple. If this is what sets them apart from ever being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, then that is pathetic foolishness on the part of that Cleveland, Ohio country club. With a mid 1980′s reunion, (1984 Perfect Strangers album), Deep Purple has been intact to this very day, with lineup changes being a normal course of their history.
Onward with my saluting Machine Head, the 1972 album from Deep Purple that I consider to be a once in a lifetime Hard Rock achievement. I mean this in the most sincerest of complimentary form. It is not as if Deep Purple never made a great album before or after Machine Head, it is that this album truly dictated a resonating Hard Rock sound that was absent in the mainstream of the early 1970′s. It’s so cliché to point out this Machine Head album as laying down the foundation for Heavy Metal. Instead, I like to insist on this album’s importance in quality Hard Rock songs, all seven to be exact. How can anyone refute the significance of Smoke On The Water? The ultra classic opening riff in this song from Ritchie Blackmore, is a study in non-technical guitar genius. Compared to today’s competitive and dueling nature of Metal guitarists, a slow down and reflection to some old school Machine Head just might cause an epiphany.
Oh, Ritchie Blackmore has his technical guitar skills without a Metal doubt, only his bluesy Rock roots stood out often enough to fuel the Deep Purple sound that set them apart from their peers. On Highway Star, the bluesy Hard Rock guitar is evident in its gleaming repetition. Space Truckin’ is as thunderous of a Hard Rock song mastering the blues as you will ever hear, I have never heard anything else like it in all the years I’ve been alive. Let’s not forget to applaud the vocals of Ian Gillan, probably the single most underrated lead singer in Hard Rock and Rock history combined. The opening yell, if you will, from Ian Gillan on Highway Star introduced to the world what Bruce Dickinson, (of Iron Maiden) and Geoff Tate, (of Queensryche) would be emulating years later… whether they knew it or not.
While Yes was introducing to the world in the early 70′s a progressive and futuristic sound through the hammond organ and keyboards, Deep Purple gave the reigns to Jon Lord to basically pound out chord sequences that dictated the hardness of their songs. Jon Lord was not looking to amaze anybody, he was looking to Rock your head off. Roger Glover on bass and Ian Paice on drums likewise, their rhythm section steered clear of the doom and gloom sound being raised in its infancy by Black Sabbath and to an extent, Iron Butterfly. Providing the undertow of harmony while establishing the trademark beats that this Machine Head album beheld, Roger Glover and Ian Paice were the Hard Rock glue that held Deep Purple together here.
I could not find it in myself, to proclaim Machine Head as the greatest Heavy Metal album of all time. I anoint Machine Head to be my greatest Hard Rock album of all time, to some it may sound like a consolation prize, instead I see this album as bigger than most music scholars may tend to ponder. I have searched high and low, for many, many, years to find another Hard Rock album filled with as much originality and straight forward Rock musicianship that sounds as dynamic as Machine Head. I am still searching… in the meantime, I declare that Machine Head is a once in a lifetime Hard Rock album.
Track Listing For Machine Head, (original 1972 release/not reissue):
Maybe I’m a Leo
Pictures of Home
Smoke on the Water