Album in Depth: Machine Head by Deep Purple (With Shukin)

JK: Hi, I’m JotaKa. I’m a rocker by birth and grew listening to rock discs and long plays by the dozen.

SK: And I’m Shukin, that other guy that complains about discs he doesn’t like.

JK: And with me today is, as possibly you’ve already guessed, Shukin! He now is a regular contributor to the Studio (https://jotakapf.wordpress.com, random plug). Since this is his first blog to be posted on the TGWTG blogs, say something about yourself.

SK: Well, first of all “Hello there” and all that introductory shenanigans. I’m a metal fan myself and, as Jotaka doesn’t like the style, I’ll be the one responsible for those reviews. Hope you don’t mind that I’d be the one to bash the LPs and CDs you love, metal fans.

JK: He will be helping me on this one, because, you see, this is my 30th review! And I wanted to do something special, which is reviewing my all-time favorite album: Deep Purple’s Machine Head! So, to avoid getting all fan-boyish, I decided to add someone to at least pull the brakes on me once in a while.

SK: So I’m gonna help to criticize the disk a little while he fanboys everywhere.

JK: As this is an album in depth, a short background is required:

Deep Purple, at that time, was already a staple of metal rock. They, joined with Led and Sabbath, basically made the standard of what would be metal in years to come. With success in albums like In Rock and Fireball, they decided to make it bigger with the next album: Machine Head. Although not their first albums, it was their first albums with Ian Gillian in the vocals, which made the entire deal completely different.

SK: This is one of the most influential disks of the heavy metal genre and it’s the most successful recording that came from Deep Purple, topping charts everywhere. It reached N.1 over UK and stood at the Top 40 for 25 weeks and N.7 at the US, remaining on the Billboard 200 for impressive 118 weeks.

Its cover is pretty simple: A metal plating with the title and the band’s distorted image reflected at the camera. It also received another special cover at its 20th anniversary.

You can’t get more metal than making the whole cover a print of pure metal.

JK: Actually, yes you can. Machine Head is the name of those metal pegs in the headstock of most rock ‘n roll instruments, so, if they were able to jam that into the pure metal cover, it would’ve been more metal.

SK: Metalception

JK: I also enjoy the cover, mostly for his simplicity, while at the same time, just being a pose of the members reflected on a metal surface. To show to those band that just pose for the art cover that you can do that and be creative.

SK: It’s actually sad that the 25th anniversary edition just threw it over and made the cover exactly what everyone does.

JK: Really? Let me see it.

JK: Oh… that’s really sad…

The longest song on the album is Lazy, spanning 7:22, and the shortest one, Never Before, has impressive 4 minutes, with the whole album amassing to a total of 37:34. So, enough chit-chat, let’s dive right into it: Machine Head by Deep Purple.

1st track: “Highway Star” – This is probably their second most famous songs, and it shows. With incredible guitars, starting with a repeated note with a twist, the song really begins with the famous Metal screaming of the seventies: and what comes after is pure awesomeness. Talking about one of the most discussed metal themes: cars and babes, this song is just a song to get you rocking and serves as one of the best intros to an album ever. With a keyboard solo that can only be described as divine and a great guitar solo, even though it sounds as two (maybe it is a duet), of Blackmore’s authorship (one of the best of his career), this song should go to the hall of fame as one of the greatest pick-you-up songs.

SK: I have to agree about Highway Star being one of the best intros to a LP, it’s really an upbeat and a hell lot of fun song… It’s just not the most meaningful song. It’s Exactly What It Says On The Tin, a song about a “highway star”, with his babes, but still is a hell of a track.

JK: It served for a long time as my clock’s alarm

2nd track: “Maybe I’m a Leo” – This song has a strong blues guitar and a nice rhythmic drums that covers the whole track with mastery. A simple but effective solo makes it a very pleasant track to listen to while reading or drawing. This is one of the tracks of the album that shows its Blues roots, but damn, I hated the pun with the title. “Maybe I’m a Leo, but I ain a lion”, seriously?. It talks about a broken heart, a girl that let a guy alone and now he’s sad and makes a song about it. Its lyrics actually remembers me of modern emo songs, just without the whining and suckish everywhere.

JK: I… actually enjoyed the pun. For a long time, this was my favorite track of the album, as the blues feel to it really nailed my tastes perfectly, even though I’m not exactly a major blues fan. Again, I have to address the keyboard solo: discrete and awesome. Definitely, this album would have another face if not for Jon Lord’s excellent addition to most songs on it.

3rd track: “Pictures of Home” – This was the only song not played on the Machine Head tour, and I, if I was a fan, would be pissed off. This song is awesome in the metal sense of the word: it resembles metal as it began, with dark metaphors, a maddening dark guitar riff, Ian Paice’s drumming the shit out it, and basically the solo of everyone in the band, going as far as the bass and back. The lyrics are probably the most interesting out of the album, driven from studio paranoid, fact, but it resembles someone that won the war, but lost his way home with singing that reeks of despair, it was Lord’s favorite song in the album, and the fact that it has been hidden because of other songs on this same album is a shame, since it pretty much overshadows Highway Star.

SK: I really like its vocals, they are great with the theme of the music and everyone just shows why Deep Purple is one of the most famous bands that there is. This was one of the tracks that I didn’t even knew it existed before this collab and its solos really caught my attention, making it one of my favorite songs of the LP.

4th track: “Never Before” – I’m reviewing only the blues-esque songs, uh. And damn, another one with “mimimi my girl left me” as lyrics? Crap. Well, let’s get over it, then: It’s actually a lot more focused on angry than sorrow, so it’s a lot more faster and powerful than Maybe I’m a Leo, besides talking about basically the same thing. Great guitars and keyboards are the basic rule of the whole album, and the great solos that got me offguard as I first heard the song made me like it, besides the whole emotional crap that the lyrics talk about. I’m not a sensible guy, as you can see.

JK: This song was the only of the album that needed from me, a time to get used to it. I think it’s because of the jarring tempo change in the start, but it is something of an acquired taste. The guitar solos are awesome and although not exactly my type of lyrics, it was really well made in my opinion. And yes, Shukin, I chose that order so that I would get the more metal oriented songs and you would get the more blues oriented song. Did you thought it was a random decision?

SK: … Magnificent Bastard.

JK: At least you got Lazy.

SK: Hell yeah, Lazy.

5th track: “Smoke on the Water” – So… you know this song. It is that type of song. Made based on the tale of their show when a fan shot a flare gun to the ceiling, thus cancelling the whole gig, it has their most recognizable riff, simple lyrics and a good solo… but to be honest, this song wore thin on me. It is awesome, but the fact that it gets major airplay time and most people, when talking about Deep Purple, mention this song made me kind of nauseous. The lack of keyboards also always bugged me and the fact that it has almost no instruments beside Blackmore’s guitar on the front light made this song fade away… even more after Highway Star and Pictures of Home.

SK: This is their most recognized song, and the most famous one. I’m one of the newfags that learned about it in the GH series and I’m quite ashamed by this. Actually, the show that they talk about is of Frank Zappa and the Mothers, and he says it over the lyrics. They were recording a song over a van near the concert and, when the whole place burned down, they took inspiration to make this song. It’s really simple, as you said, but the solo is just awesome enough for me to had goose-bumps with it and it was the first GH song that I’ve finished over expert… And let’s forget the fact that it’s one of the easiest songs of the whole game, okay?

JK: Really? Guitar Hero? Seriously? You never heard it before?

SK: Yeah. I had a really bad musical childhood.

JK: I can see, you like Megadeth.

SK: Hey! They’re great, and it was not part of my childhood anyway. I started my general rock taste with Iron Maiden, when I was 12. This is also the year that I’ve started using the internet regularly and, now, I’m a little bit… disturbed. No pun intended.

6th track: “Lazy” – Now we’re talking! This is by far my favorite song of the whole LP, and I hate unnecessarily long songs. As the longest song of the disk, you’d expect a long and boring song that repeats itself quite a lot, right? Damn no. There’s a lot of everything for everyone over the track, even a harmonica solo that, as I’m a harmonica fan, made me like the whole song a hell lot more. Now we’re talking! This is by far my favorite song of the whole LP, and I hate unnecessarily long songs. As the longest song of the disk, you’d expect a long and boring song that repeats itself quite a lot, right? Damn no. There’s a lot of everything for everyone over the track, even a harmonica solo that, as I’m a harmonica fan, made me like the whole song a hell lot more. As the Smoke on the Water example before, I, too, learned about it from Guitar Hero, but this time from its community. I’m addicted to Frets on Fire, its freeware counterpart, and this was into one of the best packs I’ve downloaded, and I’m a hell lot grateful about it.

JK: You just forgot one word.

SK: Which is…?

JK: Epic. This song is epic. Being the longest song, it would be more of a prog style, with a lot of things that are more my turf: keyboard repeating itself with a lot of effects, random noise, the stuff I like. But it is a hard rock seven minute master piece that prolong itself into awesomeness through it all. The guitars are awesome, the harmonica (instrument that I dislike a little) is great, it is all great, including, of course, Lord’s keyboard. And to be honest, this is one of the few songs that, although not bad, are vastly improved in live shows, with guitar solos that exceed 10 minutes in duration. This version is awesome, the live one are awesomer. Don’t believe me, check Made in Japan.

SK: How could I forget to call this epic song “epic”? I’m sure I will check Made in Japan later. For now, next track.

7th track: “Space Truckin'” – Starting with some great keyboard, this song obviously enough is about space travelling: science fiction was one of the directions of metal that Deep Purple helped improve. It is mostly a showcase of Ian Gillian singing, which is spot on and should’ve been more commented on this review (to be sincere, I think it’s the only time we are even mentioning his name), Blackmore’s guitar and the strength of Ian Paice’s drums, not your typical metal experience, but still hard to reproduce. On the live shows, Ritchie Blackmore used this song to… break anything in sight (California Jam Festival he broke two guitars and a camera and exploded an amplifier, burning the stage), this song has a strong, even though strange guitar solo and, although not a great outro as Highway Star was the intro, this song should also be commended for greatness, along with its six brothers.

SK: Just two words: SPACE TRUCKIN’! Dayum dat drum solo, too. This is a perfect track to close the LP, because it’s really great, as everything else. I hate to be the one to say that this is, really, a nearly flawless disk, and this song just shows it why, with its pleasant tune, great guitar and the whole singing making it a hell lot better of an experience. C’mon, let’s go Space Truckin’!

JK: So, how does it all hold up? This is my favorite album. It has 7 excellent tunes that depend basically on your humor, a perfect order, not one song that is average, a great of a hell intro, songs that are famous that make people head bang, songs that are unfamous that make people head bang… wihtout a doubt, this is the best album out there… well… at least until I find one better. Shukin?

SK: Maybe I’m a Leo, but I ain’t lying when I say this is a pretty awesome album. This proves that having a small number of tracks doesn’t mean a bad album, and it is a lot better than many other albums over there. It’s just not my favorite kind of song, besides Lazy. I love Lazy.

JK: Really? You say that pun up there is bad, and you bring that one to the table?

SK: Just making a point. I hate that pun.

JK: Never Before has been a worse pun, Shukin.

SK: I’m just Lazy to think about a better one.

JK: Fuck.

This is JotaKa, signing off.

SK: This was Shukin, see ya.

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