Album cover: Honestly I’ve never been a fan of this particular sleeve design. However, that’s just my opinion. Many fans since the time of this album’s release have taken a shine to it and like the distorted image of the band. For me though, it being the cover of such an iconic album and having the title of “Machine Head” I expected more. Perhaps something with a better illustration and vivid coloring to boot.
Overall album: While the cover doesn’t appeal to my tastes, Machine Head itself is awesome in every way. I’d like to point out here that I love the 25th anniversary edition, which featured the track When A Blind Man Cries. To me it is nothing short of criminal that it was left out of the final cut for so many years. But gratefully, Deep Purple and their management ensured that better sense prevailed in the end. That said, while many fans would have worthy cases of citing other albums in the band’s extensive discography as their best, for me this truly is the album that propelled rock and heavy rock to another stratosphere.
Highway Star: Arguably one of the two Deep Purple songs that are most known by a wide variety of music lovers across generations. From the thumping intro, where Roger and Paice lead the charge, with Ritchie swooshing over them with his fading riffs, this number sure does get the adrenaline going. Jon really shines on this track and the way in which Ritchie and him exchange solo time is quite epic.
Maybe I’m Leo: This number is a perfect blend of groove and the blues. A stark contrast to the previous number, it has a great laid back feel while it meanders gracefully along. Another interesting number where Jon displays his mastery of the keys.
Pictures Of Home: From the way the riff that kicks this number off, you almost feel in your mind like either your riding a series of ocean waves or racing up a mountain road. It has a great rhythm that plods along and Gillan’s reflective lyrics make you feel like your a traveler that needs to get somewhere in a great hurry.
Never Before: A straight out Deep Purple classic. It was contains some great vocal melodies by Gillan and twists and turns in an interesting way. An upfront rocker that also has very placid middle section, which flows into a waterfall of solos by Ritchie.
Smoke On The Water: The other of the two most famous tracks mentioned earlier. The riff and song title are, at least to me, the most recalled even among people who don’t necessarily like or listen to Rock. Heck, even kids know this. This song is that catchy, menacing, groovy and monstrous in every way. The lyrics have been discussed to death over the years but one things for sure, you never get tired of hearing them. They outline a story that keeps on fascinating audiences the world over.
Lazy: Is heavily layered with keyboard sounds and effects that are a signature style of Jon. Not to be left behind Ritchie also displays his virtuosity on his fret board. More so, the band sounds like they are having so much fun with this track. It does indeed put a smile on your face.
Space Truckin’: When Gillan shouts out the chorus you really want to leap up and join him. This song no doubt set the blue print for many acts that followed in later years, to copy and use in their own way. Quintessential Purple but one that set a high standard with this stomping rocker.
When A Blind Man Cries: This number moves people to tears. Never before (no pun intended) or since have I heard Gillan sound so soulful and evoke such emotions from his listener. While Ritchie and Roger keep that rhythm strong, you have to recognize the ability of how Paice keeps the whole band so tight and on beat here. Plus, the background orchestration by Jon is beautiful. Most notable is Ritchie’s emotional solo towards the middle.
Ultimate Album Song: Highway Star
The Band: Jon Lord (Keyboards), Roger Glover (Bass), Ian Gillan (Vocals), Ritchie Blackmore (Guitars), Ian Paice (Drums)