The lively bass riff enters with powerful strumming from Ritchie Blackmore. After 30 seconds, the drumming comes to life and Ian Gillan brings a passionate sneer into his singing. The most notable part of Highway Star
isn't the drumming or even the vocal work, it's the violent competition of limelight between guitarist Ritchie Blackmore and keyboard player Jon Lord. The minutes spent on the influential musicianship between both of them remain a more than vital part of Deep Purple. The opener finishes with Ian Gillan singing the definitive lines "I'm a Highway Star" topped off with a frantic drumline from Ian Paice. A very good start.
The pulsating rhythm that brings Maybe I'm a Leo
is as addictive as it is memorable, and it won't be far from anyone's memory if you see where I'm getting at. The verses seem a little empty and the song itself can feel dull, but by no means is this a filler track, but perhaps not a smart follow up to Highway Star
Pictures of Home
starts with a furious drum pattern shortly followed by another trademark Blackmore riff. The percussion is particularly lively and keeps the song from dragging on or falling apart. Add a 23 second solo that highlights the entire album and a worthy song is what you're left behind with. Oh, and that keyboard player I mentioned earlier gets a pretty good moment in too. Jon Lord carries the entire track before bass player Roger Glover takes over for a few seconds. It ends after about 4 minutes and then springs to life again with another solo and a faded ending.
The shortest track on the album at less than 4 minutes long distinguishes Ian Gillan's vocal talent and Ritchie's blues/rock guitar work with another strong riff and a great - although slightly too short - solo. After which Jon Lord again concludes another song with a keyboard solo, a final drum part and a number of climactic chords.
Well, here it is. The only reason that Deep Purple are known by anyone who doesn't consider themselves a fan. Smoke on the Water
suffered the same fate as Nirvana's Smells like Teen Spirit
being the only song that each band are remembered by. Perhaps it is the only reason fake fans know the name Deep Purple and some may argue that it is over-played when compared to so many other superior songs they have performed; not just from this album, but from over 3 decades of song-writing. I would have to agree.
I refuse to bash the song simply because it is highly rated. The fact is Smoke on the Water
is a superb song and it would take a jealous, possibly resentful music fan or someone devoid of any musical taste to deem this a poor track. Over-rated however, may not be saying too much.
The riff improvised in a jam session after witnessing a casino fire starts off with the addition of a high-hat, followed on by the snare, bass and then vocals. The vivid lyrics and vivacious musicality constitute a special addition to Machine Head
. If you were there at the beginning, you probably saw the hype coming too. The chorus is catchy and the ending with reverse high-hats was a very nice touch.
The keyboards and drums are the only thing you will hear for the first 4 minutes until the vocals cross the threshold for the first verse, a harmonica pieces ensues. After the second verse, Lazy
comes to life and ends after Ritchie displays an extended solo and a crescendo with the final notes playing within the maelstrom draws the 7 minute track to an end.
The ending song Space Truckin'
is a spirited blues song with great rhythm and an addictive tune. Ian Paice performs probably his best drumming on the album here, and as it seems the whole thing is about to fall apart, the chorus jumps in again. "Come on/come on/space truckin'" is repeated over again until the song and the album both fade out and end as dramatically and as passionately as the whole thing began.
Perhaps if the band decided at the end of their session 'this song isn't going to go anywhere' and you therefore know nothing about them, Machine Head
would be a great place to start. Take for instance the fact that Steve Harris and Dave Murray of Iron Maiden had bonded over Highway Star
before they really knew each other (not to mention the influence Deep Purple had on everyone else). This is an album for fans, newcomers and anyone just passing by.
: Highway Star
, Pictures of Home
, Smoke on the Water