Today’s Cool Album of the Day (#790 in the Series) is Deep Purple, Machine Head
Many musicians that are in their early 60s claim it was seeing The Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show that pushed them into the music stores to grab their first guitars and to begin the dream about making music. For those a bit younger it was one riff that made many of them jump. Thinking back I really feel for the guitar teachers of 1972, while they were handing kids an acoustic and making attempts to teach them C, D, G and maybe the odd A-minor chord, the kids just wanted to learn one thing. “Show me how to play ‘Smoke on the Water!’” Is it the best known riff in rock n roll? Probably not as long as “(I Can’t Get Know) Satisfaction” is still out there but it surely is in the team picture and in the front row as well.
It amazes me that this week we will see a 40th anniversary issue of this classic album released. 40 years on and I still remember the first time I heard it, the first time I held the album in my hands and where it was purchased.
Back then my family and I used to travel for a week each summer to a resort area just north of Tomahawk, Wisconsin. It was always my favorite week of the summer. Our family and about four other families of relatives would practically take over the whole resort. 1972 was a little different too, we got to bring friends. (Back then the best part was my cousin Annette bringing her friends too. Hi Linda!!) My friend that came with me was Adriano Rigoni. ‘Age’ was a real music fan as of course was I. Somehow we were able to fit his big suitcase-style turntable and some of our albums into my father’s Catalina as we headed north.
While we were there one day we headed into town and made a stop at the Ben Frankin store. We checked out the record department and we spotted Machine Head. “I’m gettin’ it” Adriano said! We made our purchase and headed back to the cottage where Deep Purple could be added to the others such as Alice Cooper’s Killer, Sticky Fingers and Tommy. It really does seem like yesterday that we gave it that first listen.
Deep Purple was a highly successful band when this hit the streets, but this took their popularity to another level. The album spent 118 weeks on the Billboard top 200 and peaked at #7. As a single “Smoke on the Water” reached #4 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart.
It also introduced us to other songs that would stand the test of time to this day. “Highway Star,” “Space Truckin’ and “Lazy” all did well. The tour for this album would also go down in history due to its documentation in the live album Made in Japan. That album helped set the stage for the mid-seventies “double live albums” crave. It was a fun era to be a rock n toll fan.
Machine Head was recorded in Montreux, France, of course that’s on the Lake Geneva shoreline. In an interview Ritchie Blackmore shared a story stemming from the sessions:
“We had the Rolling Stones’ mobile recording unit sitting outside in the snow, but to get there we had to run cable through two doors in the corridor into a room, through a bathroom and into another room, from which it went across a bed and out the veranda window, then ran along the balcony for about 100 feet and came back in through another bedroom window. It then went through that room’s bathroom and into another corridor, then all the way down a marble staircase to the foyer reception area of the hotel, out the front door, across the courtyard and up the steps into the back of the mobile unit. I think that setup led to capturing some spontaneity, because once we got to the truck for a playback, even if we didn’t think it was a perfect take, we’d go, ‘Yeah, that’s good enough.’ Because we just couldn’t stand going back again.”
I look forward to seeing that 40th anniversary issue. It hits the streets in the States this Tuesday, October 8th.
All songs written by Ritchie Blackmore, Ian Gillan, Roger Glover, Jon Lord and Ian Paice.
- “Smoke on the Water” 5:40
- “Lazy” 7:19
- “Space Truckin'” 4:35
- Ritchie Blackmore – guitar
- Ian Gillan – vocals, harmonica
- Roger Glover – bass
- Jon Lord – keyboards
- Ian Paice – drums, percussion