Machine Head (album)

Last updated

Machine Head
Machine Head album cover.jpg
Studio album by
Released25 March 1972 (1972-03-25)
Recorded6-21 December 1971
StudioGrand Hotel, Montreux, Switzerland with the 16 Track Rolling Stones Mobile Studio
Label Purple (Europe, Oceania, South America)
Warner Bros. (USA, Canada & Japan)
Producer Deep Purple
Deep Purple chronology
Machine Head
Who Do We Think We Are
Singles from Machine Head
  1. "Never Before"
    Released: 18 March 1972
  2. "Highway Star"
    Released: March 1972
  3. "Smoke on the Water"
    Released: May 1973
Alternative cover
25th anniversary CD slipcase

Machine Head is the sixth studio album released by the English rock band Deep Purple. It was recorded during December 1971 in Montreux, Switzerland, and released in March 1972.

Rock music is a broad genre of popular music that originated as "rock and roll" in the United States in the early 1950s, and developed into a range of different styles in the 1960s and later, particularly in the United States and the United Kingdom. It has its roots in 1940s and 1950s rock and roll, a style which drew heavily from the genres of blues, rhythm and blues, and from country music. Rock music also drew strongly from a number of other genres such as electric blues and folk, and incorporated influences from jazz, classical and other musical styles. Musically, rock has centered on the electric guitar, usually as part of a rock group with electric bass, drums, and one or more singers. Usually, rock is song-based music usually with a 4/4 time signature using a verse–chorus form, but the genre has become extremely diverse. Like pop music, lyrics often stress romantic love but also address a wide variety of other themes that are frequently social or political.

Deep Purple English rock band

Deep Purple are an English rock band formed in Hertford in 1968. The band is considered to be among the pioneers of heavy metal and modern hard rock, although their musical approach changed over the years. Originally formed as a progressive rock band, the band shifted to a heavier sound in 1970. Deep Purple, together with Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath, have been referred to as the "unholy trinity of British hard rock and heavy metal in the early to mid-seventies". They were listed in the 1975 Guinness Book of World Records as "the globe's loudest band" for a 1972 concert at London's Rainbow Theatre, and have sold over 100 million copies of their albums worldwide.

Montreux Place in Vaud, Switzerland

Montreux is a municipality and a Swiss town on the shoreline of Lake Geneva at the foot of the Alps. It belongs to the district of Riviera-Pays-d'Enhaut in the canton of Vaud in Switzerland and has a population of about 25,000, and about 85,000 in the agglomeration Vevey-Montreux.


Machine Head is often cited as a major influence in the early development of the heavy metal music genre. Commercially, it is Deep Purple's most successful album, topping the charts in several countries following its release. The album reached number 1 in the United Kingdom and stayed in the top 40 for 20 weeks. It reached number 7 in the United States, remaining on the Billboard 200 for 118 weeks.

Heavy metal is a genre of rock music that developed in the late 1960s and early 1970s, largely in the United Kingdom. With roots in blues rock, psychedelic rock, and acid rock, the bands that created heavy metal developed a thick, massive sound, characterized by highly amplified distortion, extended guitar solos, emphatic beats, and overall loudness. The genre's lyrics and performance styles are sometimes associated with aggression and machismo.

The Billboard 200 is a record chart ranking the 200 most popular music albums and EPs in the United States. It is published weekly by Billboard magazine. It is frequently used to convey the popularity of an artist or groups of artists. Often, a recording act will be remembered by its "number ones", those of their albums that outperformed all others during at least one week. The chart grew from a weekly top 10 list in 1956 to become a top 200 in May 1967, and acquired its present title in March 1992. Its previous names include the Billboard Top LPs (1961–72), Billboard Top LPs & Tape (1972–84), Billboard Top 200 Albums (1984–85) and Billboard Top Pop Albums.


Deep Purple initially planned to record Machine Head in December 1971, at Montreux Casino in Switzerland. A mobile recording studio owned by the Rolling Stones had been booked and hotel reservations made, [1] but lead singer Ian Gillan contracted hepatitis. Cancelling a forthcoming tour of America, the band placed all their plans on hold, and Gillan was advised by his doctor to spend the next few months recuperating. Nevertheless, enthused by the new project, the band travelled to Switzerland to begin recording. [2] The Casino was a large arena built in a complex of casinos, restaurants and other entertainment facilities. The band had performed there in May 1971 and enjoyed both the location and Claude Nobs, founder and general manager of the famous Montreux Jazz Festival. Among others, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd and Black Sabbath had all performed there. The Casino closed for refurbishments each winter, and so the band arrived there on 3 December. One last concert date remained, following which they were to have the location to themselves. [3]

Montreux Casino

Montreux Casino(Casino Barrière de Montreux) is a casino Located in Montreux, Switzerland, on the shoreline of Lake Geneva. It has served as the venue for the Montreux Jazz Festival and was rebuilt following a 1971 fire memorialized in the Deep Purple song "Smoke on the Water". It is a property of Groupe Lucien Barrière.

Rolling Stones Mobile Studio

The Rolling Stones Mobile Studio is a mobile recording studio once owned by the English rock band The Rolling Stones. Numerous bands and artists have recorded music using it, including Dire Straits, Deep Purple, Lou Reed, Bob Marley, Horslips, Nazareth, Fleetwood Mac, Bad Company, Status Quo, Led Zeppelin, Iron Maiden, Wishbone Ash and the Rolling Stones themselves. More recently, the unit has been acquired by the National Music Centre in Calgary.

The Rolling Stones English rock band

The Rolling Stones are an English rock band formed in London in 1962. The first stable line-up consisted of bandleader Brian Jones, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Bill Wyman (bass), Charlie Watts (drums), and Ian Stewart (piano). Stewart was removed from the official line-up in 1963 but continued to work with the band as a contracted musician until his death in 1985. The band's primary songwriters, Jagger and Richards, assumed leadership after Andrew Loog Oldham became the group's manager. Jones left the band less than a month before his death in 1969, having already been replaced by Mick Taylor, who remained until 1974. After Taylor left the band, Ronnie Wood took his place in 1975 and continues on guitar in tandem with Richards. Since Wyman's departure in 1993, Darryl Jones has served as touring bassist. The Stones have not had an official keyboardist since 1963, but have employed several musicians in that role, including Jack Nitzsche (1965–1971), Nicky Hopkins (1967–1982), Billy Preston (1971–1981), Ian McLagan (1978–1981), and Chuck Leavell (1982–present).


Frank Zappa's concert of 4 December at the Casino was made infamous when a member of the audience fired a flare into the building's roof. Although there were no fatalities, the resultant fire ruined Deep Purple's plans. [4] Nobs relocated the band to a nearby theatre called the Pavilion, where they recorded the basic tracks for a song provisionally named "Title No. 1". Bass player Roger Glover said he woke up one morning saying the title "Smoke on the Water" out loud. Later Gillan, based on the title, wrote the lyrics describing the band's experience in Montreux, recording the Machine Head album. [5] A photograph of the burning Montreux Casino would ultimately be included in the gatefold of Machine Head's album cover.

Frank Zappa American musician

Frank Vincent Zappa was an American multi-instrumentalist musician, composer, and bandleader. His work is characterized by nonconformity, free-form improvisation, sound experiments, musical virtuosity, and satire of American culture. In a career spanning more than 30 years, Zappa composed rock, pop, jazz, jazz fusion, orchestral and musique concrète works, and produced almost all of the 60-plus albums that he released with his band the Mothers of Invention and as a solo artist. Zappa also directed feature-length films and music videos, and designed album covers. He is considered one of the most innovative and stylistically diverse rock musicians of his era.

Flare pyrotechnic, produces intense light or heat without an explosion

A flare, also sometimes called a fusee, is a type of pyrotechnic that produces a brilliant light or intense heat without an explosion. Flares are used for distress signalling, illumination, or defensive countermeasures in civilian and military applications. Flares may be ground pyrotechnics, projectile pyrotechnics, or parachute-suspended to provide maximum illumination time over a large area. Projectile pyrotechnics may be dropped from aircraft, fired from rocket or artillery, or deployed by flare guns or handheld percussive tubes.

Roger Glover Welsh bassist, keyboardist, songwriter and record producer

Roger David Glover is a British bassist, songwriter, and record producer. He is best known as the bassist for hard rock bands Deep Purple and Rainbow. Glover wrote the guitar riff on "Maybe I'm a Leo". As a member of Deep Purple, Glover was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in April 2016.

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.

Ritchie Blackmore [6]

As a new location the Pavilion proved to be impractical, as nearby residents flooded the local police station's switchboard to complain about the noise the band made. Although the police were prevented from entering the building by the band's roadies, who held the venue's doors shut, the band were quickly evicted. They searched for other locations in which to record and settled on the empty Grand Hotel, on the edge of Montreux. With the mobile recording unit parked at the main entrance, they set up at the end of one of the building's corridors, off the main lobby. [7] An assortment of equipment and sound-insulating mattresses meant that to get to the recording van the band were forced to walk through bedrooms and across balconies. This proved so arduous that they stopped listening to playbacks of their recordings, instead performing until they were satisfied with what they had. [8]

A song entitled "When a Blind Man Cries" was recorded during these sessions, but not included on the album. Instead, it was used as the B-side on the "Never Before" single. The song appears as a bonus track on the album's 25th anniversary edition.

When a Blind Man Cries Song by Deep Purple released in 1972

"When a Blind Man Cries" is a song by British rock band Deep Purple, originally only available as the B-side of the single "Never Before", released in 1972. It was recorded during the Machine Head sessions in December 1971.

Never Before 1972 single by Deep Purple

"Never Before" is a song by British rock band Deep Purple, which appears on their 1972 album Machine Head. It was also released as a single and reached #35 in the UK.

The supporting tour for Machine Head included a trip to Japan that would later become the double-live Made in Japan album. Four songs off Machine Head ("Highway Star", "Smoke on the Water", "Lazy" and "Space Truckin'") would be included on the final cut of the original Made in Japan LP.

Release and reception

Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic Star full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svg [9]
BBC Music favourable [10]
Christgau's Record Guide B [11]
MusicHound Star full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svg [12]
Record Collector Star full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar empty.svg [13]
Rolling Stone favourable [14]
The Daily VaultA [15]

Machine Head hit the number one spot on the British charts within seven days of its release, remaining there for two weeks before returning in May for a further week. In the US, the album peaked at number seven and remained in the Billboard charts for two years. [16]

Rolling Stone 's Lester Bangs praised the lyrics to "Highway Star" and "Space Truckin'" as well as the entire album's music, although he was less complimentary about the lyrics for the remaining songs: "In between those two Deep Purple classics lies nothing but good, hard-socking music, although some of the lyrics may leave a bit to be desired." Concluding: "I do know that this very banality is half the fun of rock 'n' roll. And I am confident that I will love the next five Deep Purple albums madly so long as they sound exactly like these last three." [14] Robert Christgau rated the album a B, writing "I approve of their speeding, and Ritchie Blackmore has copped some self-discipline as well as a few suspicious-sounding licks from his buddies in London." [17] AllMusic critic Eduardo Rivadavia called Machine Head "one of the essential hard rock albums of all time." [9]

Machine Head contains classical and blues influences. Blackmore confirmed that the chord progression for the solos in "Highway Star" was inspired by the work of 18th-century composer Johann Sebastian Bach. [18] The song was actually composed by Blackmore and Gillan at the start of the Fireball gigs on a bus travelling to Portsmouth Guild Hall, in response to a question from a member of the press as to how the band created their material. [7]

Blackmore noted that Machine Head was recorded in about three weeks, remarking that "everything was natural and it all worked." He further stated, "I didn't like Fireball very much because we were just working too much. But we had about a month off before Machine Head, which allowed me to get my head together and write some stuff." [19]

Kerrang! magazine listed the album at No. 35 among the "100 Greatest Heavy Metal Albums of All Time" in 1989. [20]

In an Observer Music Monthly Greatest British Albums poll, Ozzy Osbourne chose Machine Head as one of his ten favourite British records of all time. [21]

Machine Head is the subject of one of the Classic Albums series of documentaries about the making of famous albums. Machine Head was released on the multichannel formats DVD-Audio (2001) in a new 5.1 channel mix and SACD (2003) with the European quadraphonic mix, and more recently, also on SACD on 17 August 2011, by Warner Music Group in its Warner Premium Sound series (which has the same 5.1 channel mix as the 2001 DVD-Audio version). [22]

40th anniversary releases

The 40th anniversary edition of Machine Head was released on 8 October 2012 by EMI; it is a five-disc set accompanied with fully illustrated 60-page hardback booklet. Its contents include: Original album 2012 remaster (CD1), Roger Glover's 1997 mixes (CD2), Original album quad SQ stereo (2012 remaster) (CD3), In Concert '72 from Paris Theatre, London, 9 March 1972 – 2012 mix (CD4), 2012 high resolution remaster & surround mixes (DVD, audio only).

Also as part of the celebrations of the 40th anniversary celebrations Re-Machined: A Tribute to Deep Purple's Machine Head was released on 25 September 2012 by Eagle Rock Entertainment. [23]

Track listing

Original vinyl release

All tracks written by Ritchie Blackmore, Ian Gillan, Roger Glover, Jon Lord and Ian Paice.

Side one
1."Highway Star"6:05
2."Maybe I'm a Leo"4:51
3."Pictures of Home"5:03
4."Never Before"3:56
Side two
1."Smoke on the Water"5:40
3."Space Truckin'"4:31

25th anniversary edition

40th anniversary edition


Deep Purple



RegionCertification Certified units/Sales
France (SNEP) [47] 2× Gold200,000*
Italy (FIMI) [48] Gold50,000*
Japan (RIAJ) [49] Gold100,000^
United Kingdom (BPI) [50] Gold100,000^
United States (RIAA) [51] 2× Platinum2,000,000^

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone


Kerrang!United Kingdom"100 Greatest Heavy Metal Albums of All Time" [52] 198935
Q United Kingdom"50 Heaviest Albums of All Time" [53] 2001no ranking
Mojo United Kingdom"The Ultimate CD Buyers Guide – Rock" [54] 200166
Q United Kingdom"The 30 Greatest Classic Rock Albums Ever" [55] 2004no ranking
Kerrang!United Kingdom"100 Best British Rock Albums Ever" [56] 200534
Classic Rock United Kingdom"100 Greatest British Rock Album Ever" [57] 200626
The Guardian United Kingdom"1000 Albums to Hear Before You Die" [58] 2007no ranking


Related Research Articles

Smoke on the Water 1973 single by Deep Purple

"Smoke on the Water" is a song by the English rock band Deep Purple. It was first released on their 1972 album Machine Head. In 2004, the song was ranked number 434 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest songs of all time, ranked number 4 in Total Guitar magazine's Greatest Guitar Riffs Ever, and in March 2005, Q magazine placed "Smoke on the Water" at number 12 in its list of the 100 greatest guitar tracks.

<i>Made in Japan</i> (Deep Purple album) 1972 live album by Deep Purple

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<i>Fireball</i> (album) 1971 studio album by Deep Purple

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