Tuesday, April 21, 2015
"Machine Head" by Deep Purple (March, 1972)
If Ozzy Osbourne picks this album to be in his "Top 10 favorite albums" list, then you can assume this going to rock. (Spoiler alert: It does!)
Generally not my go-to genre, this early 70's metal album is actually really good. Like, really good! Huge guitar riffs and super fast solos sets this album apart from just about anything we've reviewed so far.
I'd list the songs I like the most, but they're seriously all so good. But I mean, you can't not mention "Smoke on the Water" since that song contains one of rock music's most classic guitar riffs. You still can't go into a guitar store without hearing someone jamming that riff. With only 7 tracks in total, this album is a perfect example of "all killer, no filler." Each song totally rules. "Pictures of Home" even has a badass bass guitar solo.
There isn't enough good things I can say about Machine Head. It just rocks. And for 1972, this seems ahead of its time to me. This definitely deserves to be on our classic albums list. I'm glad I got to hear it and finally see what these guys were all about. I really dig it! Time to listen to it again.
If asked to list the top five songs that exemplify classic rock, you're going to mention "Stairway to Heaven" first, and chances are good you'll mention "Smoke on the Water" second. If not second, then it won't be far down the list. For that iconic song alone, this album belongs on our list. But that's not the only song that makes this a classic album.
From the opening beat of the great "Highway Star" on, you know this is going to be a great album. That opener is one of the best driving songs ever, perfect for dropping the top, cranking the volume, and pushing the pedal. How can this album get any better?
But it does. Or at least it maintains that quality.
This is riff-based rock and roll at its finest. "Maybe I'm a Leo" slows down a bit, but it still has a great riff and cool solos. "That drum that opens "Pictures of Home" tells you that this song is going to be full of more brilliant solos, and it is, with everybody getting his turn. On and on this album goes, one great driving rock song after another, through the classic "Smoke on the Water," until it finally ends with "Space Truckin'," one of the true highlights of an album without any real low points. Even the songs that might lag a bit lyrically make up for it with those riffs and solos. Ritchie Blackmore dominates here, but he's got a great bunch of players behind him, lifting him to heights that have rarely been achieved by a metal album. I can't even begin to imagine 1970s radio without this record.
If you only know "Smoke on the Water," and even if you think it's a cool song and all but you've heard it so often that it has become a metal cliche, you owe it to yourself to give this album a listen. It is so much more than one iconic song. And when you're done, throw on "Made in Japan," the live album where many of these songs are kicked up several notches.
And if you're taking a road trip, this should be in heavy rotation, maybe even the first thing you put on.