Deep Purple released Machine Head on this day in 1972.
This album is, without a doubt, the most famous of the twenty studio albums Deep Purple has released. It is also probably the most-performed by the band, and definitely gets the most airplay. It is consistently ranked as the best album the group has produced. All of these things make the events behind its recording all the more impressive.
“Smoke on the Water”, one of the most famous songs in rock ‘n roll, tells the story that immediately predated their sessions when the Montreux Casino, at which they planned to record, burned down. The quintet regrouped at the Grand Hotel and wrote and recorded the album throughout the rest of December with the help of The Rolling Stones Mobile studio.
The album was a smash hit, and has since became one of the most influential hard rock albums ever written. Even the notoriously picky Robert Christgau gave the album reasonably positive reviews—though he made sure to note that guitarist Ritchie Blackmore had “borrowed” some of his music!
The album did reasonably well on charts, peaking at No. 1 and spending 25 weeks total on the UK charts. This was the second of the band’s studio albums to reach the top of the charts, following its immediate predecessor Fireball; barring the compilation album Deepest Purple, this would also be the last album Purple released which hit this milestone.
On the other side of the pond, it peaked at No. 7* and spent over two years on the Billboard 200 charts. Ironically, by the time it peaked on August 11, 1973, the band lineup that had created the album had split.
Individual song-wise, “Smoke on the Water” peaked at #21 on the UK singles chart, though this wasn’t until 1977. It did better in the US, where it peaked at #4 and spent 16 weeks on the chart.
What’s your favorite number from the album?
*Billboard 200 itself gives #6 as Machine Head’s position on August 11, 1973. It also has the album as having fallen two points, so I’m not really sure what’s going on here.
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- Edit on 2020-07-09: Added info about Machine Head’s charting