Thursday, 20 April 2017

"Machine Head: Anniversary 2CD Edition" by DEEP PURPLE (September 1997 EMI 2CD Reissue - Remixes and Remasters) - A Review by Mark Barry...

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"...I'm A Highway Star..."

"...All right...hold tight...I'm a highway star..." - Ian Gillan sings on the explosive opener. 
OK boys - I'm holding tight and I'm liking what I'm hearing – even if it is digitally sozzled and recomboozalated.

The Purp's classic "Machine Head" hit the streets of both Blighty and Big City USA in April 1972 and we've been in love with its non-nonsense Rawk ever since (a No. 1 in the UK and No. 7 over there). Followed later in the year with the stunning double-live set "Made In Japan" - and with "Fireball" from 1971 and "Deep Purple In Rock" from 1970 already under their hard-rocking belt - it seemed like a slam-dunk.

And like Jethro Tull's catalogue with its endless but hugely pleasing book sets - EMI seem to have a CD thing for this most British of hairy-men bands - always giving their reissues more than a half-decent outing and not just what they can get away with. So it is with head-banging pleasure that I come to the September 1997 'Anniversary 2CD Edition' of the wunderbar "Machine Head" and announce with glee that it’s no different. Bit of a barnstormer in fact. Let's get to the space truckin' and the smoke on the water...

UK released 8 September 1997 - "Machine Head: Anniversary 2CD Edition' by DEEP PURPLE on EMI CDDEEPP 3 (Barcode 724385950629) is an 'Expanded Edition' 2CD Reissue with 1997 Remixes on Disc 1 while Disc 2 comprises of the album Remastered and Three Bonus Tracks. It plays out as follows...

Disc 1 - 1997 Remixes - 43:42 minutes:
1. Highway Star
2. Maybe I'm A Leo
3. Pictures Of Home
4. Never Before
5. Smoke On The Water
6. Lazy
7. Space Truckin'
8. When A Blind Man Cries

Disc 2 - Remastered - 53:12 minutes:
1. Highway Star [Side 1]
2. Maybe I'm A Leo
3. Pictures Of Home
4. Never Before  
5. Smoke On The Water [Side 2]
6. Lazy
7. Space Truckin'
Tracks 1 to 7 are their sixth studio album "Machine Head" - released April 1972 in the UK on Purple Records TPSA 7504 and in the USA on Warner Brothers BS 2607. Produced by DEEP PURPLE (Engineered by Martin Birch) - it peaked at No. 1 in the UK and No. 7 in the USA.

8. When A Blind Man Cries - non-album B-side to "Never Before" - written by the whole band it was released March 1972 in the UK on Purple Records PUR 102 and the same month in the USA on Warner Brothers WB 7572 (charted at No. 35 in the UK but didn’t chart USA).

9. Maybe I'm A Leo (Quadrophonic Mix)
10. Lazy (Quadrophonic Mix)
Tracks 9 and 10 first issued May 1972 in the UK on the 'Quadrophonic' LP issue of "Machine Head" on Purple Records Q4TPSA 7504. Note: many guides list this as issued in 1974 but I've EMI catalogues dated from June 1972 onwards through to late 1974 that list it as 06/72.

IAN GILLAN – Lead Vocals
JON LORD – Keyboards

A card slipcase contains a slim-line double-CD jewel case – The 1997 Remixes CD has a picture of the blurred faces artwork while the Remastered album and bonuses on Disc 2 sports the Purple label. Nice as all that is – the 28-page booklet is a proper feast both with band involvement and superb visuals. Page 2 has an intro from ROGER GLOVER, a row of four rare foreign picture sleeves for the “Never Before” single from around the world and on Page 3 – a black and white photo of a cloud of smoke billowing from the Casino Studio building in Montreaux – the scene that of course inspired the classic “Smoke On The Water” song. There's even a snap of The Rolling Stones mobile parked outside the hotel and further shots of the boys inside during sessions. A major essay on the making of the album by SIMON ROBINSON fills pages 4 to 17 only to be taken over by Roger Glover's own notes called "Machine Head remembered..." from Pages 17 to 25. There's alternate artwork, trade adverts for singles and the LP and one page even has the handwritten lyrics for their most famous riff – "Smoke On The Water". It's impressive stuff...

But all that is nobbled by the fabulous new audio supplied. The vastly experienced Audio Engineer PETER MEW has remastered the Album at Abbey Road from real tapes and its way better than what I had before. But I must admit I’m drooling over the new remix versions – handled by a team of four - PETER DENENBERG, ROGER GLOVER, and JOE DiGIORGI with mastering by the supreme GREG CALBI (Paul McCartney's “Band On The Run”, Supertramp's “Crime Of The Century” and Paul Simon's “Graceland” to name but a few). Even Glover in his liner notes seemed amazed by the 1997 Remixes which he clearly felt gave the album the extra oomph it seemed to lack on original vinyl – especially given the truly explosive live versions of the songs that would come later that year on the monster double-album "Made In Japan". At last that live power is evident everywhere on these studio recordings - "Highway Star" and the hooky "Maybe I’m A Leo" alone enough to make even the most ardent unbeliever double take.

It’s hard now to play the studio version of the opener "Highway Star" without thinking of its live nemesis on "Made In Japan" - quite possibly the single most exciting opening to a live double 'ever'. But man had I forgotten how good this little sucker is. Following hot on the heels is the hugely hooky "Maybe I'm A Leo" has always been a poison for me while the drum opening of "Pictures Of Home" is now huge. The obvious 7" single "Never Again" arrived in UK shops 21 March 1972 on Purple Records PUR 502 with the non-album "When A Blind Man Cries" on the B-side - a ballad that was good enough in my books to be on the album although "Machine Head" the album was never about mellow or 'my world is pale' sorrow. I love the audio on both. Both "Lazy" and "Space Truckin'" sound big and ballsy - especially the keyboards and drums on "Space Truckin'" – and when Gillian lets rip on those chorus screams towards the end - dancing with Alice and the stars indeed.

It's now nearly twenty years since this 1997 2CD Reissue of Deep Purple’s "Machine Head" and a 45th Anniversary of the original vinyl LP looms this month (April 2017) - so no doubt another variant will wing its way into our living rooms right soon. In the meantime - come on - let's go space truckin' – burn down your speaker stacks with rockin' beast...

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