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Music / Machine Head (Album)

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We all came out to Montreux
On the Lake Geneva shoreline...

Machine Head is the sixth studio album by Deep Purple, released in 1972. It was an enormous best seller, thanks to their Signature Song "Smoke on the Water" and other hits such as "Highway Star" and "Space Truckin'".

An episode about the creative process behind the recording of the album was featured in the documentary series Classic Albums.

For the band with the same name (and who named themselves after this album), see Machine Head.


Side One

  1. "Highway Star" (6:05)
  2. "Maybe I'm a Leo" (4:51)
  3. "Pictures of Home" (5:03)
  4. "Never Before" (3:56)

Side Two

  1. "Smoke on the Water" (5:40)
  2. "Lazy" (7:19)
  3. "Space Truckin'" (4:31)

Principal Members:

Tropes on the Water:

  • Buffy Speak: "Smoke on the Water" refers to The Rolling Stones Mobile Studio in this way:
    (...) The Rolling truck Stones thing just outside
  • Car Song: "Highway Star"
    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
  • Epic Instrumental Opener: "Lazy". Nearly four and a half minutes of organ solo before the actual song starts. (And the rest of the song is only three minutes long!)
  • Epic Rocking: The 6:05 "Highway Star" and the 7:19 "Lazy". "Space Truckin'" would also become an example of this when performed live, often stretching to twenty minutes (an example of which can be found on the group's seminal live album Made in Japan).
  • Face on the Cover: An interesting subversion. The band members are featured on the album cover, but with distorted faces.
  • House Fire: "Smoke on the Water", describing how the smoke from a concert hall fire was drifting across the Montreux lake.
  • In the Style of: Ritchie Blackmore claimed that the chord progression for the solos in "Highway Star" was inspired by Johann Sebastian Bach. Roger Glover was inspired to do "Maybe I'm a Leo" when hearing John Lennon's "How Do You Sleep?" from Imagine, because it didn't start on a down beat.
  • One-Word Title: "Lazy".
  • Real Life Writes the Plot:
    • "Smoke on the Water" was inspired by a concert (December 4, 1971) by Frank Zappa inside a casino in Montreux, Switzerland, where some idiot in the audience with a flare gun accidentally set the place on fire, by firing said gun at the ceiling. There were no casualties but Zappa lost all of his equipment in the fire. As a result he was quite bitter over the fact that this tragedy was necessary to give the band their number one hit. A photograph of the burning Montreux Casino was included in the gatefold of the album cover and the album was dedicated to Claude Nobs, owner of the Montreux Casino. Deep Purple was actually supposed to record Machine Head at the casino, but the band had to find an alternate venue, and they came up with the song in the interim.
    • "Maybe I'm a Leo" was inspired by Ian Gillan, the only one in the group with that astrological sign.
  • Shout-Out:
    • "Smoke on the Water" name-drops Frank Zappa and his band, the Mothers of Invention.
      • A sculpture commemorating the song can be found in Montreux along the lake shore, not far from the statue of Freddie Mercury.
      • The band lampshaded their own hit in the song "Hungry Daze" from Perfect Strangers (1984)
        We all came down to Montreux, but that's another song
    • "Machine Head" inspired the name of the band Machine Head.
  • Show, Don't Tell: "Highway Star" counts. It was written as a response to an interviewer's question regarding how the band writes their songs.
  • Western Zodiac: "Maybe I'm a Leo" addresses the zodiac sign Leo.
  • Writingbythe Seatof Your Pants: How they wrote "Highway Star." A reporter asked them about the band's songwriting process. Guitarist Ritchie Blackmore demonstrated with a riff on acoustic guitar while singer Ian Gillan came up with lyrics. The song was completed and performed for the first time the same day.