Updated: Aug 27
“Machine Head” is the sixth studio album from English rockers Deep Purple released on March 25, 1972. All of Deep Purple’s previous records had been recorded in between touring, producing less than desired results for the band. Despite implementing several tricks in the recording sessions, the band felt that nothing could be done to replicate the quality produced during their live performances. This set the band out on a quest to find the perfect vacant venue to renovate into a soundstage to capture the essence of their live shows and make it into the recording of their sixth full length record. To ensure a top-sound, the band hired the Rolling Stones Mobile Studio, which had built up a track record in the ‘70s hosting an alumnus of some of rock’s greatest, including: The Who, Fleetwood Mac, Lou Reed, Bob Marley, and many others. Next, Deep Purple booked the Montreux Casino in Switzerland off the shore of Lake Geneva to convert as their ultimate soundstage as it was preparing to close for the winter. The night of the last live show, the group was sitting at a bar a quarter of a mile away from the casino, awaiting the end of Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention’s set. Unbeknownst to anyone at the venue, a fan had fired a flare into the stadium’s faux bamboo roof. About an hour into the set, sparks started falling into the crowd as Zappa reportedly stopped the show and took to the mic to say, “no one should panic, but…FIRE!” Shortly after everyone in attendance was evacuated, the building went up in flames! Viewing the incident from the other side of the lake, Deep Purple watched as the building was engulfed and smoke came billowing towards them across the water. That next morning, lead singer Roger Glover woke up uttering the words “Smoke on the Water” and began writing what would later become the band’s greatest hit. Resettling in Switzerland’s Grand Hotel, which was also closing down for the winter, the band made impromptu improvements to their newfound location to accommodate for the noise ordinance, such as plastering mattresses all across the wall and parking their mobile studio closing off the front entrance. These barriers proved to be extremely inconvenient, having to break down and traverse the length of the lobby every time they wanted to play back their recording, so they opted instead to hold continuous jam sessions through all hours of the night, playing until they were satisfied and sure they’d gotten the perfect take. This extended the length of most of the album’s songs, incorporating extended solos that made it directly onto the album unrefined. The band had also gotten creative, installing closed circuit TVs to communicate back and forth with the production crew outside in the studio. This uncanny arrangement made for one of rock’s most uniquely distinct albums as fans got to experience the high intensity of a rock concert with the polish of a studio finish. The album was a commercial success, going number one in seven countries with “Smoke on the Water” enjoying an extended run in the top 10 of airplay charts, peaking at number 4 on the Billboard Hot 100. Experience 30 minutes of pure, hard rocking classic metal by streaming the headbanging tracks “Maybe I’m a Leo,” “Space Truckin’,” and the legendary riffs of “Smoke on the Water” by streaming the 25th Anniversary Edition now on Spotify!