Yeow! It’s been 40 years since Deep Purple released Machine Head, one of the great hard rock albums of the early 1970s. This is the album that, along with Smoke On The Water, features such classics as Highway Star, Lazy and Space Truckin’. There will be a 40th Anniversary version of the original album out soon, but until then, with contributions by Metallica, Iron Maiden and Chickenfoot, this is an excellent primer.
The best moments of Machine Head come during the musical “duels” between guitarist Ritchie Blackmore and keyboard player Jon Lord. Most of the tracks here focus on the guitar riffs and there are plenty of top-notch guitarists here to make their mark including Steve Vai, Joe Bonamassa, Joe Satriani and Zakk Wylde.
Carlos Santana gets things started with a workman-like rendition of Smoke On The Water. Santana eschews his usual guitar sound for something a bit more primal. Later on, The Flaming Lips contribute a typically weird version of the same tune, with a wonky-sounding synth playing that iconic riff.
The set really starts rockin’ with Chickenfoot’s Highway Star. This is the band with Sammy Hagar and Michael Anthony (ex-Van Halen) along with Joe Satriani and drummer Chad Smith. It’s a live recording and Hagar is in fine voice, sounding like he did back in his days with Montrose.
Other highlights include Jimmy Barnes and Joe Bonamassa’s Lazy and Iron Maiden’s Space Truckin’.
I was particularly impressed with Metallica’s take on When A Blind Man Cries. The song was a B-side, recorded during the same sessions as Machine Head, and James Hetfield’s vocal performance is one of his best…subtle when it needs to be, then powerful. The band sounds great as well.
A second version of Highway Star, recorded by Glenn Hughes, Steve Vai, Chad Smith and keyboard player Lachlan Doley, is included as a bonus track, it is indeed. Hughes was a member of Deep Purple a few years after Machine Head and he really wraps his lungs around the song. Vai has a good bash as well.
So there you have it. Other than the Flaming Lips track, these are pretty straightforward versions of the songs. I suspect that’s what most fans will want. I know I did.
Click here to listen to Chickenfoot perform Highway Star:
01. Smoke On The Water – CARLOS SANTANA
02. Highway Star – CHICKENFOOT
03. Maybe I’m A Leo – GLENN HUGHES, CHAD SMITH, LUIS MALDONADO
04. Pictures Of Home – BLACK LABEL SOCIETY
05. Never Before – KINGS OF CHAOS (Joe Elliott, Steve Stevens, Duff McKagan, Matt Sorum, Arlan Schierbaum)
06. Smoke On The Water – THE FLAMING LIPS
07. Lazy – JIMMY BARNES, JOE BONAMASSA
08. Space Truckin’ – IRON MAIDEN
09. When A Blind Man Cries – METALLICA
10. Highway Star – GLENN HUGHES, STEVE VAI, CHAD SMITH, LACHLAN DOLEY (exclusive track)