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Deep Purple “Machine Head” (1972)

Loaded with no less than four primal Purple classics, Machine Head has gone on to be the general favorite studio slab from the esteemed MKII lineup, and with good reason, as among the empty corridors of Montreux’s Grand Hotel the band and producer Martin Birch laid to tape a set that pushed the heaviness of In Rock into a focused and accessible framework. The most enduring cuts here are synonymous with Deep Purple, the open highway insanity of “Highway Star” featuring a vintage Jon Lord classical workout and Richie wailing in high harmony with himself, while the King Kong sized riff of “Smoke on the Water” melds perfectly with Gillan’s clever, autobiographical lyrics. Elsewhere there’s the extended instrumental intro to the boogiein’ “Lazy” and rocket-propelled “Space Truckin’,” while lesser renowned entries hold their own, the studly “Maybe I’m a Leo” and “Never Before” clues to the band’s funky future, “Pictures of Home” chugging along to a melancholy gallop. Again, the sound of the band from their lead booted bottom end to the warm distortion of Lord’s Hammond and Blackmore’s Strat-wrangling works it’s magic on Machine Head, birthing an enduring, steel-plated standard for all hard lovin’ rock libraries. —Ben

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