November 22, 2021 3 min read

Hello All! Before we get into this week’s pick I just wanted to say thank you for your kind words last week regarding my first “Nick’s Picks” this is something I have talked about doing for quite awhile and all of your encouraging dialogue made it that much better!

My pick this week is definitely my ultimate “changed my life” album! A record that when I dropped the needle on it for the first time at 12 years old as a brand new drummer. I had to pick my jaw up off the floor! This album was and continues to be a constant inspiration. This week’s pick is the everlasting classic 1972 Release, Deep Purple - Machine Head!

Recorded in just 2 weeks in Switzerland in December of 1971 Purple were set to record in a “live” setting at the Montreux Casino. The day before they were set to begin recording in the venue, the place burned to the ground after a concert-goer shot a flare into the ceiling during a Frank Zappa concert. The band then booked themselves into cavernous, off season hotel where they set up a makeshift studio using The Rolling Stones Mobile Recording Studio. Some of you may recognize this information as the basis of the most popular Deep Purple track “Smoke on the Water”. The song tells the 100 percent true story of the hell they went through to make this record!

“Machine Head” is a fairly short album with only 7 tracks but it’s 7 tracks of pure greatness! The album opens with the classic “Highway Star”, a driving anthem of straight up power that showcases everything that is Deep Purple! A fantastic organ solo from Jon Lord, a powerful vocal from Ian Gillan, a unbelievable guitar solo from Ritchie Blackmore and the ultimate rock foundation from who I think is the greatest rhythm section in hard rock, Roger Glover and Ian Paice! Ian Paice as a drummer is such an influence on me that I actually have him tattooed on my arm! Oh yeah! After “Highway Star” the band then gets funky with “Maybe I’m A Leo” (STILL to this day I can’t figure out how to count the drum beat properly) before slamming into the majestic “Pictures of Home” by way of a classic Ian Paice drum solo intro, “Pictures of Home” is my favorite *deep cut* of the album!

The pop rock oriented “Never Before” closes outside 1... but the real magic of the album is side 2 which is filled with 3 diverse classics! “Smoke on the Water” is of course a classic thanks to it’s legendary guitar riff but throw the unbelievable story on top and you’ve got one of the best songs of all time in rock! “Lazy” features a throw down guitar schooling from Ritchie Blackmore showcasing why still to this day he is one of the most celebrated guitarists in all of hard rock. The album’s closing track, my personal favorite “Space Truckin” is about as great as it gets. An iconic organ riff that is so heavy it had to have made Black Sabbath blush ! Again the rhythm foundation laid by Glover and Paice is just incredible! Throw in the nonsensical  psychedelic lyrics from Ian Gillan about traveling around the galaxy and you’ve got a stone cold gem! In a live setting Purple would take this out into a 20+ improvisation of chaos, I highly recommend the “Made In Japan” version of “Space Truckin” as a prime example of this!

This is one of those albums every person should have in their collection! It is not to be missed! This record left such a huge impression on me that I often tell people it’s my favorite of all time, every time I hear it and trust me I’ve heard it probably 1000 times or more, It still sounds and feels more fresh than the last time!

For those that want to go even deeper, I also highly recommend the documentary from the Classic Albums series on the making of “Machine Head”!

Remember, this pick and all of the “Nick’s Picks” can be purchased right here at Rock City Music Company!

-Nick



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