“Machine Head” is the sixth studio album released on 25 March 1972 on Purple Records.
The success of this album didn’t just happen. The band had been touring and recording in between live shows since 1969. Any new song they wrote would get debuted live before it was recorded.
But the band felt that these earlier studio albums did not sound as good as their live performances, and wanted to record in a stage environment.
As legend would have it, Deep Purple planned to record the “Machine Head” album at Montreux Casino in Switzerland during December 1971. But some “stupid with a flare gun burned the whole place to the ground”.
Deep Purple relocated to another hotel called “The Pavilion” however the neighbors kept calling the police over the noise and Deep Purple got evicted. The basic tracks to “Smoke On The Water” were recorded here.
They searched for other recording locations and settled with the empty Grand Hotel, on the edge of Montreux.
The band for the album is the classic line up of Ritchie Blackmore on guitar, Ian Gillan on vocals, Roger Glover on bass, Jon Lord on keyboards, Hammond organ and Ian Paice on drums.
The album is listed as being produced by Deep Purple with Martin Birch doing the engineering and the mixing with Deep Purple.
It’s a speed Metal song before it became a thing.
Written on the bus while touring. Management arranged for the band to travel to the gig with a group of music journalists who could interview the band at their leisure.
One of them asked Blackmore how he wrote songs and the opening riff was the result. The rest of the band completed the arrangement during rehearsals and it was added to the show on the evening of the gig.
Blackmore based his guitar solo around a figure that he learned from rockabilly artists Johnny Burnette who was active between 1952 and 1964 when he drowned.
Maybe I”m A Leo
I like the blues rock riff on this which Glover wrote the song’s main riff after listening to John Lennon’s “How Do You Sleep?” Hell it could have been based on “Come Together” which was based on a Chuck Berry song.
It had a working title of “One Just Before Midnight”, which appears in a picture of a recording sheet on the album sleeve.
Pictures of Home
Montreux had become their home away from home and this song covers that period.
A fast drum solo Intro starts it off before the band crashes in. The major key pentatonic soloing reminds me of Thin Lizzy before Thin Lizzy became famous.
I love the blues when it’s done right. And on this track Deep Purple nail it.
This style of blues rock would form the foundation of the Rainbow sound.
Smoke On The Water
The opening riff and the whole build up with the drums and then bass.
That’s why you press play on this.
It was played live in 1971. Glover said the song was roughly based on an Oscar Brown song, “Sleepy”, while Blackmore stated it was inspired by Eric Clapton’s “Stepping Out”.
Either way, it’s how music is created.
Take our influences and create something new.
The song was designed for the live show with each instrument having a break to showcase the talents of the player. Even Ian Gillan got a harmonica spot.
“So come on”.
And the rest is history. Nonsense lyrics or not it’s a classic Deep Purple jam.
When A Blind Man Cries
No one called these kind of songs ballads back in the day. It was just a slower rock song.
Listen to the little leads and the lead break itself. So much emotion. Blackmore doesn’t get enough credit for being a great blues player.
In Australia it went to number 1, along with other countries like Denmark, France, West Germany as it was known back then, the UK and Holland.
Certifications will be viewed in the future as a small memory of the music business, the way the piano player is forgotten and vaudeville productions. Once upon a time they ruled. What happened to em?
But when people talk about this album, they talk about it’s 2x Platinum certification in the US and it’s Gold certifications in France, Italy, Japan and the UK.