Deep Purple-Machine Head
1972; Warner Bros.; Montreux, Sweden
1. Is It Any Good?
A couple of nights ago, I was telling my mom that the next album I was going to review for this column was going to be a Deep Purple album. She informed me that back in the '70s, Deep Purple was pretty much universally regarded as being an awful band. "Even the kids with bad taste in music would make fun of the kids with Deep Purple albums", she said. "Even the Deadheads would make fun of Deep Purple fans." Imagine the guys who listen to Alkaline Trio making fun of the guys who listen to Good Charlotte and you'll sort of understand what that was like.
So: Is Deep Purple the Good Charlotte of their day? Christ no. Were they very good? Once again, no. With that in mind, is Machine Head any good? Well, third time's the charm!
No. It is not.
Until I figured that I should review this album for the column, I hadn't listened to Machine Head in a number of years, mostly because I thought it was one of the most boring, cheesy pieces of crap I had ever heard in my life. It's not quite that bad in the present day, but it's still not something I would listen to if I had a choice in the matter.
There is a group of people who consider Deep Purple to be in the same pantheon as Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin in terms of being one of the most important pillars of heavy metal. These people, to coin a phrase, are retarded. As a matter of fact, I would contend that Machine Head barely qualifies as a metal album. It's more like a jam record with heavier guitars. If there was anything about this album that could be considered influential, it would be it's propensity to wander off into Nowhere Land(which also goes by the name of Solo Town) for longer than the listener will be able to find tolerable, although Black Sabbath already did that better on their self-titled debut, along with being a good band to boot. So...yeah, I'm kind of at a loss with this one.
White-boy blues lyrical content crops up all over the place during this album, along with extended organ and drum solos. If that all sounds unpleasant and dated, that's because it is. This might as well be a Boston album. If the sad attempts at funk don't scare you off, the ambling pace and weedely-weedely-weedely keyboard solos will try the patience of even the most tolerant listener.
And before anyone brings it up, "Smoke on the Water" can go fuck itself.
There are two instances on this album where it resembles approaching quality-"Highway Star" and "Space Truckin'", the first and last songs on the album(and, coincidentally, both of which are about cars). There's a legitimate kick to both of these songs-"Highway Star" in particular rips along at a suitably rockin' pace- and the irritating "chill out and smoke a bowl" mentality that permeates most of the album turns into something sincerely charming and fun with "Space Truckin'". Maybe if we could just get a concept album from them that was all about vehicles, we would have something good on our hands.
But, we don't. We have Machine Head. And "something good" definitely does not qualify as an accurate descriptor for this album. I meant for this to be a more positive review than it turned into, but listening to it for a second time I simply can't bring myself to add any qualifiers-this album is cheesy, boring and dated as all hell. With output like this, it's easy to see why even the ABBA lovers of the early '70s were shit-talking Deep Purple fans.
2. Is It "Influential"?
Technically, I suppose it is-this is what everyone tells me-but if you were going to ask me what exactly it influenced I wouldn't be able to tell you. Maybe it, like...no, I really don't have any idea what people are talking about. There were plenty of albums out at the same time that did everything Machine Head did, only about a hundred times better. Like, say, Foghat's self-titled debut. And brother, I can't think of some sadder shit than losing a quality contest to Foghat.
3. Is It A Good Entry Point For Beginners?
Does the listener need to get to sleep? Alternately, is the listener somebody who you would like to leave you alone as quickly as possible?
Then no, keep this as far away from a new listener's ears as possible.