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Released - March, 1972 on Warner Bros. Records. Produced by Deep Purple
Ian Gillan - Lead and Backing Vocals
All songs written by Blackmore, Gillan, Glover, Lord, Paice
Machine Head is an album that some heavy metal fans claim to be the very first full fledge metal album ever made, in fact, in the CD's inside package it goes one step further and states that "two out of three hard rock fans agree that heavy metal was born" ....with this album. Really? Where did they come up with that figure? I find that hard to believe, and it seems to be a totally ridiculous claim! Heck, compare it to other hard rock albums that came about around the same time (1972) - or even a few years earlier, and the truth being is that statement isn't even close to the truth. Two out of three fans claim this? Well maybe a few do, but two out of three? Where are all of these people?
Yes, this is a fine hard rock LP, but is it true heavy metal? Metal music sounds very different today, so we can't go by today's standards, but lets face it, back in 1972, bands like Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin - and their album's, sounded more metal like than this one. I believe one could call this LP "a great hard rock album" at best. It just doesn't sound like true metal to me!
The best song on this album, which contains perhaps one of the all time great guitar rock riffs ever, is "Smoke On the Water", written about a real event that took place, on December 4, 1971. The band was about to record this album at the Casino in Montreux, Switzerland, when "the gambling house" caught on fire and did burned to the ground, during a live performance by Frank Zappa. Yes, "some stupid with a flare gun" really was to blame for the fire. The song's title came from bassist Roger Glover, who witnessed the smoke from the fire spreading over Lake Geneva. "Funky Claude" was Claude Nobs, a friend of the band and who really did help save people from the fire. He later on helped the band find a new place to record the album, over at the deserted Montreux Grand Hotel, and a studio was set up there using the Rolling Stones Mobile Truck Studio - mentioned in the song as the "Rolling truck Stones thing", as they really were "making music with the mobile".
Yet as great a story this song told, it's that Richie Blackmore's riff, played on a Fender Stratocaster electric guitar, that is remembered the most with this tune. The one riff that all new guitar players seem to learn first - or at least what to learn first, and it seems to be still loved even by today's 21st Century kids. It should be noted that keyboardist's Jon Lord also gets in the act on this song, playing the same riff on the organ (especially when it was played live), making for one great guitar/organ weave.
There is another masterpiece song on Machine Head, the album's opening number, "Highway Star". Perhaps this sounds the most metal like song on here, with Ian Gillan vocals part of the reason for that, but again, Backmore's guitar is on fire on this one, too.
We get to hear yet another fantastic and catchy guitar riff from Backmore on the LP's closing tune, "Space Truckin' ". Then there is the part instrumental "Lazy", which is also excellent. After the first 4:25 of the song, Gillan's vocals kick in and unlike some such songs where one might ask - why ruin a good instrumental with singing in the second half of the song?, well that isn't the case here, the lyrics fit, and by the song's end we are treated to one fine little package.
I never owned this album when it first came out, as one of my best friends had it, and since he was a Deep Purple freak, I got to hear it plenty. The much more metal sounding Burn, up to a few months ago, was the only album put out by this band I ever (once) owned. But the members of my family wanted me to get this LP, as they totally dig it, and now that I've had it for the past few months, it has grown on me some. But no, it still don't sound or feel like heavy metal to me, just a good hard rocking album!
- Keno, 2008
To listen to some soundclips from MACHINE HEAD or to purchase it click on: Machine Head [CD]
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