Deep Purple’s Machine Head has long been considered one of the high water marks for hard rock and heavy metal music. Now, to celebrate the album’s 40th anniversary, an all-star group of musicians has come together to pay tribute to this legendary release with Re-Machined – A Tribute To Deep Purple’s Machine Head.
Machine Head, of course, is the album that introduced the world to one of the most famous guitar riffs ever with “Smoke On The Water.” Every guitarist learns that riff and, as such, the song is featured in two vastly different versions. The first one leads off the album and features Carlos Santana on guitar with Jacoby Shaddix from Papa Roach on lead vocals. This version originally appeared on Santana’s Guitar Heaven – The Greatest Guitar Classics Of All Time album and dares to tinker with the riff by adding a bit of slide guitar. The combination works and, with additional congas and percussion by Karl Perlazzo, the song has a bit of a Latin feel to it. The other version is by the Flaming Lips, featuring Gibby Haynes from the Butthole Surfers on vocals. While the riff in their version starts the same, it soon gives way to a funky bass and what sounds like bottles clinking while Haynes delivers a spoken-word vocal. It’s at once bizarre and endearing.
“Highway Star,” perhaps the second most famous song on the album, is represented twice as well. The first version is a live performance from Chickenfoot, with Joe Satriani using an effect on his guitar to replicate Jon Lord’s original organ while the second features former Deep Purple member, Glenn Hughes, on vocals and bass with Steve Vai on guitar. Both versions are formidable, with neither Hughes, nor Sammy Hagar showing any signs of age in their vocals.
The rest of the album is represented with one version of each song. Black Label Society does a faithful, if slowed down, version of “Pictures Of Home” while Kings of Chaos, a super group featuring Joe Elliott, Steve Stevens, Duff McKagan and Matt Sorum cover “Never Again.” Elliott says “Never Again” is his favorite song on the original album as it is the forgotten track.
Two heavy hitters that were both influenced by Purple — Iron Maiden and Metallica — offer two of the album’s biggest highlights. Maiden performs a blistering cover of “Space Truckin’” that was originally intended as a B-side in 2006 but never used, while Metallica covers an actual B-side with a strong version of the ballad, “When A Blind Man Cries.” The song was on drummer Lars Ulrich’s bucket list of songs Metallica needed to play before their career ended.
A legendary album deserves an equally legendary tribute. While not every track may be quite up to the lofty standards set by the original, the album comes really close. For fans of Deep Purple, or any of the artists on the album or classic rock in general, Re-Machined – A Tribute To Deep Purple’s Machine Head is a must-own CD.