"Oooh It's A Killer Machine, It's Got Everything, Like A Driving Power, Big Fat Tires And Everything!"
This is the followup to Deep Purple's 'Fireball' that never reached the heights of the masterpiece 'In Rock, however this was a great return to form with the band performing at their peak. The album boasts the all time most famous riff in guitar history, 'Smoke On the Water' and naturally has acclaimed a legendary status as a result. However there is more to offer here than mere killer riffs. The lineup is the infamous DP band featuring on vocals the air raid sirens of high octave legend Ian Gillan, the pounding drums of Ian Paice, the guitar wizard Ritchie Blackmore, the keyboard magician Jon Lord and the wonderful Roger Glover, bass guitarist extraordinaire. With this musicianship it would be impossible to fault, right? Well, almost.
The album hits the mark with a rocking start with the hard driving 'Highway Star', the kid sister of 'Speed King'. The dynamic interplay of guitar and organ is wonderful and draws the listener in as it builds into the first verse. "Nobody Gonna Take My Car, I'm Gonna Race It To The Ground, Nobody Gonna Beat My Car, It's Gonna Break The Speed Of Sound" I think the lyrics embody the essence of the revhead. But its all about the riffs for this band and they deliver everytime. The true metal progenitors like no others.
'Maybe I`m a Leo' is a song about.... "Acting like a fool I had to make her cry, Maybe I'm a Leo but I ain't a lion" Ok it speaks for itself. The song is a throwaway which is unusual for DP at this point in their careers.
'Pictures of Home' is a great track with a great deal of improvisation in the instrumental sections. Gillan is fabulous on this track with an awesome chorus with an infectious hook, "I'm alone here, With emptiness eagles and snow, Unfriendliness chilling my body, And whispering pictures of home." Glorious and definitive DP.
'Never Before' is another song full of power riffs and power vocals and became a hit single of sorts in some countries. '
All together now... dum dum daaaaagh, dum dum dadaaaaaaaaagh! 'Smoke on the Water' is the most recognizable DP track for that riff; even non fans have heard this somewhere. The actual thematic content is fascinating about how a "stupid with a flare gun" burned down the recording studio of Zappa and the Mothers in Montreux. Now the event is immortalised forever in song. It is great to watch DP perform this in Montreux. This will perhaps remain the all time greatest DP single though I prefer 'Child In Time' or 'Black Night'. I would hate to think of how many musos have played this riff on 'Smoke' but it is mind boggling the impact this 7 note chord riff has made on the rock world. And it is dead easy to play too. The live version is even better with a great intro. A must have track.
'Lazy' is a terrific lengthy jamming track about a dude so lazy he just stays in bed, and I sing this to myself occasionally. The best version is found on live albums but Lord is awe inspiring on this no matter what version you hear.
'Space Truckin' ' is another of the quintessential DP tracks and I have heard many versions including a brutal metal thrash version by prog metal Christian band Believer, but of course this is the best version. The power riffs and grinding organ absolutely slam you to the wall on this one.
So there you have it, some awesome indispensable tracks among a host of standard rockers. A very good album, though no masterpiece, this is perhaps Deep Purple's second best. I do not have the version with bonus disc but that would be the best version of course. A solid legendary album beyond doubt.