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4.46 | 153 ratings | 9 reviews
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Album · 1972

Filed under Hard Rock


1. Highway Star (6:08)
2. Maybe I'm A Leo (4:52)
3. Pictures Of Home (5:07)
4. Never Before (4:00)
5. Smoke On The Water (5:42)
6. Lazy (7:22)
7. Space Truckin' (4:34)

Total Time 37:47


- Ian Gillan / vocals, harmonica
- Ritchie Blackmore / guitar
- Jon Lord / keyboards
- Roger Glover / bass
- Ian Paice / drums, percussion

About this release

Release date: March 25, 1972
Label: Warner Bros. Records

Reissued as 30th Anniversary Edition with the following tracklist:

Disc 1: The 1997 Remixes

1. Highway Star (6:39)
2. Maybe I'm A Leo (5:25)
3. Pictures Of Home (5:21)
4. Never Before (3:59)
5. Smoke On The Water (6:18)
6. Lazy (7:33)
7. Space Truckin' (4:52)
8. When A Blind Man Cries (3:33)

Disc Two: The Remasters

1. Highway Star (6:08)
2. Maybe I'm A Leo (4:52)
3. Pictures Of Home (5:08)
4. Never Before (4:00)
5. Smoke On The Water (5:42)
6. Lazy (7:24)
7. Space Truckin' (4:35)
8. When A Blind Man Cries (original B-side) (3:32)
9. Maybe I'm A Leo (Quadrophonic mix) (5:00)
10. Lazy (Quadrophonic mix) (6:57)

Total Time 96:59

Reissued as 40th Anniversary Edition with the following tracklist:

Disc 1: Original Album 2012 Remaster

1. Highway Star (6:08)
2. Maybe I'm A Leo (4:52)
3. Pictures Of Home (5:08)
4. Never Before (4:00)
5. Smoke On The Water (5:42)
6. Lazy (7:24)
7. Space Truckin' (4:35)
8. When A Blind Man Cries (3:32)

Disc 2: Roger Glover 1997 Remixes

1. Highway Star (6:39)
2. Maybe I'm A Leo (5:25)
3. Pictures Of Home (5:21)
4. Never Before (3:59)
5. Smoke On The Water (6:18)
6. Lazy (7:33)
7. Space Truckin' (4:52)
8. When A Blind Man Cries (3:33)

Disc 3: Quad Sq Stereo

1. Highway Star (6:11)
2. Maybe I'm A Leo (4:55)
3. Pictures Of Home (5:04)
4. Never Before (3:59)
5. Smoke On The Water (5:39)
6. Lazy (6:53)
7. Space Truckin' (4:34)
8. Smoke On The Water (Us single a-side edit) (3:50)
9. Lazy (Japanese single b-side) (2:30)

Disc 4: In Concert '72

1. Introduction (0:16)
2. Highway Star (8:32)
3. Strange Kind Of Woman (9:17)
4. Maybe I'm A Leo (6:17)
5. Smoke On The Water (7:09)
6. Never Before (4:34)
7. Lazy (10:22)
8. Space Truckin' (21:46)
9. Lucille (7:21)

Total Time 203:50

Thanks to Time Signature, Lynx33, diamondblack for the updates


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Specialists/collaborators reviews

I don't like to review classic albums very much because anything that can be said about them has already been said and everybody already has an opinion anyway. Obscure bands or lesser known albums are more fun to dig up and inform the world of their existence. But today I listened to this album all the way through for the first time in maybe 9 years or so, and I found I heard it in a whole new way.

I became a fan of Deep Purple back in '84, only a couple of months before the reunion album "Perfect Strangers" was released. I loved it! But DP albums were not easy to find on cassette back then. I was lucky to find "Burn" and "Fireball" but "Stormbringer" and "Come Taste the Band" were not available. After "House of Blue Light" I lost interest for many years. Ian Gillan was gone, and then back. Then Ritchie Blackmore was gone. But in 2006 I was curious about "Rapture of the Deep" and I liked it enough to go and buy all DP's studio albums on CD. All of them!

Then for the last nine years or so, I haven't listened to any album from start to finish except for maybe "In Rock", which is still my favourite. But last night I was suddenly struck with the desire to hear "Machinehead" again and this morning in went on play.

From the start, "Highway Star" seemed to be lacking something. There was a lack of bass depth. My ear buds? The music is fast but basically very simple-sounding. The lyrics are like something a bored person would write when half drunk and just taking the piss on lyric writing. The only place I felt the song really shines and shows what the band is truly capable of is in the guitar and organ solos. Here we get a glimpse of the musical prowess of the band. But "Highway Star" is a rock classic, and for speed and Gillan's soaring screams at the start, the proto-metal element is sufficiently there.

"Maybe I'm a Leo" is strangely my favourite track. It has this funky drop down groove and the music is full, rich in bass, and sounds wonderful. The guitar solo comes in with style and smoothness. The 30th anniversary reissue includes a disc of remixes with alternate guitar solos and the solos for this song and "Smoke on the Water" just don't have the same articulation and style. They are just lead guitar solos. On the originally released version, Blackmore goes for style and feel rather than technical skill or speed and it just works! Jon Lord's organ sound on his lead part is not really a favourite of mine but he makes it work for a simple but appropriate bluesy solo. Ian Paice still has his chops, putting in fills and doing great stuff on the drums. This would slowly disappear from his drumming with Deep Purple and be almost absent for many years.

"Pictures of Home" is one of three songs the band wrote about their experience recording in a closed down hotel (closed for the season) at Lake Geneva. It opens with a drum intro and features solos by Blackmore, Lord, and Roger Glover (bass) as well!

The original side one closes with "Never Before". It has another funky groove to the intro. It's here where I began to really notice how the band was playing their music. Everybody has a part and each part seems independent in that each musician has his own riff or rhythm bit to do. But they of course put all their parts together to make the songs. This is what I was missing on "Highway Star". Now the band are like different components of a machine all moving in their own functional space but all responsible for making the machine work smoothly. It's not rhythm guitar, organ, and bass all playing the same thing to a 4/4 beat. This is prog style composition. And the remarkable thing is that Deep Purple, on "Machine Head" for sure, are playing heavy rock with blues and funk and classically-influenced solos, composed with prog thinking and coming all together in songs that became radio hits and fan favourites. I've been listening to an awful lot of proto-metal and prog from the 1969-1974 period (I don't mean the music is awful) and I think I can finally appreciate just what a feat Deep Purple accomplished with this album. When David Coverdale joined the band, he said in an interview that he had played with great musicians before but this was a whole knew level. I'm starting to appreciate that.

"Smoke on the Water", everyone knows the riff, everyone knows the story in the lyrics. But what about the riff during the verses and chorus? Again, each musician has got his own thing going on. It's not as simple as one might first think. The guitar solo is really so well laid out, especially how it wraps up as the lead riff returns. The organ solo is left until the end and Paice puts in some tasty drum work as the song slowly fades out. The band never intended for this to be a single. They had high hopes for "Never Before". But the audience told them that this song was the ticket! On YouTube I saw a video of songs Deep Purple allegedly ripped off and the "Smoke" riff apparently already existed in some jazz piece, but in another interview, Blackmore said he got the idea by reversing Beethoven's Fifth Symphony intro notes. Whatever the case, the "Smoke" riff along with "Satisfaction" by the Stones have been recognized as the two most well-known riffs in rock history. Elementary school students in Japan who haven't the first clue about anything other than The Beatles (and only if their parents like them) know the "Smoke" riff. Like Beethoven, Blackmore's riff may just live on for centuries.

"Lazy" is a clever piece with a classical organ intro that slides into a grumbling blues. The whole instrumental first half of the song has the band putting out so many moves shifting between straight ahead blues and blues-based rock. The song itself is alright and Gillan brings back his scream vocals. It wraps up like a blues club act.

The album closer "Space Truckin'" is where the band probably reach their most metal point. There's this awesome groove where the drum beat and the guitar/organ notes alternate and it gives the song a terrific charged feeling. Gillan goes full force at the end and the blues-based heavy riff is really a peak point on the album.

The 30th anniversary edition includes "When a Blind Man Cries" and is the third song about the Swiss experience. Though it wouldn't have really had an appropriate spot on the album, it makes a great bonus track. Gillan is so smooth and Blackmore's guitar solo is full of emotion.

I was originally disappointed with this album, way back in 1984 when I first got it, because it didn't rock out with that same wrecking ball assault attack that "In Rock" did. This album is smoother, cooler, groovier, and more mature. It's very cleverly composed songs and music. It's not heavy as in metal very much and it's not prog like their first three albums were more like. It is a classic album for a very good reason, though. It's some damn fine music!
I suppose the debate over which DEEP PURPLE album is the best will carry on as long as there are fans of the band out there. "In Rock" or "Machine Head" ? Tough choice. "Machine Head" was recorded in Montreux Switzerland in December of 1971. Certainly the massive hit "Smoke On The Water" helped send this album into orbit as far as sales go. I mean who doesn't know that Blackmore riff that is so prominant in that song ? The great thing is that there are 3 other tracks on here that fans love. "Highway Star" has to be one of the best driving songs around, while "Space Truckin'" kicks some major ass. I would argue that "Lazy" is the other song that belongs in the top four here. A very influential album and Jon Lord's organ work can't be underestimeted here, he's downright nasty at times.
Recorded under chaotic circumstances - as recounted in Smoke On the Water, surely the most overplayed filler number in rock history - Deep Purple's third album of their full-on proto-metal stage (as inaugurated by In Rock) is probably my favourite of theirs. Smoke On the Water, as well as being somewhat overexposed, is also just not that good a song (the opening riff tries to be plodding and foreboding but just sounds like a fumbling beginner trying and failing to do a Tony Iommi riff), and Lazy is a knock-off blues-rock number that's about as simplistic and uninteresting as its title suggest, but elsewhere the album excels.

The highlight of the album is probably Highway Star. Whilst in terms of subject matter it's arguably just a reworking of Speed King from In Rock, the sheer furious speed and fury the band bring to bear during this song (and the exceptional, driving guitar solo) is surely a foundational document of speed metal. Space Truckin' might have goofy lyrics but there's no denying that it's got a hell of a riff. And on balance, the album's finer qualities more than outshine the rushed circumstances of its recording. Deep Purple aren't my favourite early-1970s proto-metal band by any measure, but this album showcases why they're considered a big influence on metal better than any other of their studio works.
Time Signature
Highway stars...

Genre: hard rock

This album is a legendary hard rock and heavy metal monilithic behemoth for one single reason: it contains "Smoke on the Water", whose opening riff has become the very representative of the entire genre of rock music.

"Smoke on the Water" is not the only noteworthy track on this album though, and it's not the only track of interest to metalheads. "Highway Star" and "Space Trucking" are both uptempo hard rockers. The former is probably of more relevance to heavy metal than the latter, which does, however, contain a cool interesting drum solo, and some metallish guitar riffs. "Never Before" is also a hard rocker, while "Maybe I'm a Leo" is more of a sneaky blues-funk track. And of course, there is a lot of guitar work which includes elements that would later become defining elements of neo-classical metal.

Really, "Machine Head" can't be sufficiently described in word, so I encourage you to go and give it a listen yourself.
"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.

Members reviews

This is not, in my opinion, Deep Purple’s best album, but it is nonetheless a masterpiece. The album begins and ends with tracks that prove that simplicity is the art of design. Maybe I’m a Leo experiments with a more funky riff. Pictures of Home is a Deep Purple classic with a lovely bass solo that maybe one day I’ll be able to play. Never Before returns to a more funk-rock feel. Smoke on the Water is of course a classic and must have the most well known riff on the planet. It’s the song that sells the album. Lazy, though, is my favourite track on the album - a track that slowly builds.
Never before

Machine Head is often considered to be the best of Deep Purple's many albums and while I prefer Fireball, I agree to some extent. Compared to the raw Deep Purple In Rock, Machine Head is a bit more sophisticated and elaborated. The guitar and keyboard solos are better structured and do not come across as improvisations as was often the case on In Rock. The solos on Highway Star in particular are almost Neo-Classical in nature and the interplay between Jon Lord and Ritchie Blackmore is inspiring.

With this album, the band ventured further away from their Blues and Rock 'N' Roll roots towards Heavy Metal. But this is still very far away from what Black Sabbath was doing at the time. 'Proto-Metal' is actually a pretty good genre-categorization for this music.

Highway Star, Lazy, Space Trukin' and Smoke On The Water are all eternal classics of the genre, but all the songs are often played live by the band to this very day. My personal favourites are Highway Star and Pictures Of Home.

Like In Rock, Machine Head is also an all out Rock album with hardly one subtle moment. I suppose that Deep Purple were always better live than in the studio. The production of this album is pretty rough and contemporary listeners will probably find the sound of this album dated.

Essential as historical document and quite good in its own right
How do you review the best-ever album by one of your favourite bands of all time? By saying perhaps that the album deserves six stars instead of five, gushing extravagant praise and ending with a wholehearted recommendation? Or rather, by trying to be as objective as you can, even going to the lengths of trying to find flaws which are not there? Difficult indeed, when you are confronted by about 40 minutes of absolute musical bliss - soaring vocals, fiery, crystal-clear guitar, rumbling Hammond organ, and one of the tightest rhythm sections on the market. Not to mention songs that other bands can only dream of writing, each and every one a classic.

"Machine Head" is one of those records that cannot be ignored. Even more so than "In Rock", it is the album that launched a thousand bands, the blueprint every fledgling hard rocker had to take into account, the monumental landmark dwarfing everything else around. The sheer chemistry made evident by its predecessors - notably the incendiary live "Made in Japan", released just a few months earlier - comes to full fruition here, showing a band who, though on the verge of being pulled apart by tensions and freewheeling egos, have reached the absolute peak of their musical condition. The songs are crafted with skill and feeling, so that they never give the impression of being mere showcases of technical ability, but rather the result of an ongoing process involving the contribution of every member of the band.

Even if the songs, at a first glance, appear to be rather straightforward, their structure is more complex than it seems, the interplay between the instruments flawless and at the same time so spontaneous as to seem almost casual - you never get that contrived feeling that is so common in the output of many 'real' metal bands. The main feature, as in the case of "In Rock", but here at an even more advanced level, are the duels between Jon Lord's powerful, brooding Hammond and Ritchie Blackmore's dazzling, diamond-sharp guitar. "Machine Head" is actually one of the great guitar albums of all time - not only because it contains the mother of all riffs in the immortal "Smoke on the Water". Blackmore's performance is textbook-perfect throughout, the notes cascading with effortless elegance from his Stratocaster - so deceptively simple, so difficult to imitate. Ian Gillan's supercharged vocals are the perfect foil for those two masters of their instruments, almost hysterical on classic concert opener "Highway Star" (the archetypal speed metal song) and in album closer "Space Truckin'" (definitely the most progressive track on the disc), more restrained and almost wistful in "Maybe I'm a Leo" and "Pictures of Home", with an experimental feel in the jazzy "Lazy" - another song which deviates quite sharply from traditional hard rock/blues standards.

A masterpiece? Without any doubt. A masterpiece of metal music? Though "Machine Head" is quite far from being a bludgeon-fest, it was an extremely heavy effort for its times, and its influence on the development of the genre cannot be understated. This is rock music at its very best - legendary is the only word that can do it justice.
"I'm alone here, with emptiness, eagles, and snow..."

"Machine Head" is just good old Rock N' Roll and classic Deep Purple. Boasting the guitar genius of Ritchie Blackmore, the catchy Hammond-organ playing of Jon Lord, and of course, the amazing vocals of Ian Gillan, this album showcases the very best of Deep Purple.

Right from the start, the driving rhythm of "Highway Star" hooks you in and never lets go. The next two songs, "Maybe I'm a Leo" and "Pictures of Home" are my favorites on the album, with the latter of the two being my favorite Deep Purple song ever recorded. The groovy essence of the songs remains the same throughout the album, keeping the mood blissfully constant right through to the end of "Spacing Truckin'."

"Smoke on the Water" is the worst song here, and that's saying something! Damn good album for music in general.

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