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Complaining about Smoke even before it was finished

A couple of things that are probably not really news for the people frequenting our site.

Far Out magazine has a story about Lars Ulrich’s favourite band, you know which one:

His love affair with music dates back to a concert in 1973 in Copenhagen at the K.B. Hallen when he witnessed Deep Purple in action. Ulrich’s father was famous in their native land, and the full red carpet treatment was rolled out for the pair. Having a bird’s eye view of Deep Purple made Ulrich become fixated with the group, and even now, no group in the world matters to him as much as them.

In 2016, he even had the ultimate honour of inducting them into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. During his speech, Ulrich explained: “This night is a culmination of two musical journeys. One is mine, the other is that of a band that changed my life and rock and roll. When I was nine years old, my dad took me to see Deep Purple on a cold day in Denmark, on a dark cold Saturday night in February 1973.

Read more in Far Out magazine.

And the Ultimate Guitar has a story behind Smoke on the Water. Again, there are no groundbreaking revelations, but it’s a very well put together piece:

Even though the history of heavy music was in no small parts written by songs with simple, powerful riffs, few other riffs can match the simplicity, the impact, and, arguably, the fame of the one that made Deep Purple’s “Smoke on the Water” a timeless hard rock classic without equal.

Ever since “Smoke on the Water” first came out on Purple’s eighth studio album “Machine Head” in 1972, generations of music fans fell in love with its powerful groove, while generations of guitarists got to know it as “The Baby’s First Riff” – hell, even generations of neighbors who never wanted to have anything to do with rock became well-versed in the good ol’ “0-3-5” after generations of little Timmys from the flat upstairs wouldn’t stop ripping through it for hours on end.

In short, you’ll hardly find a more widely known hard rock song, and its famous meta-lyrics gave it an additional layer of distinction. That said, it’s most probable that, as someone who’s reading an article on a site called “Ultimate Guitar”, you already know “Smoke on the Water” and what’s it about – and if you don’t, you need only read the first couple of the song’s verses for the TL;DR version of the story behind it. However, there’s a few more nuances and details that the lyrics inevitably omit and that make the story behind “Smoke on the Water” all the more interesting, and today we’ll be taking a look at the complete picture of how it exactly went down.

Read more in Ultimate Guitar.

14 Comments to “Complaining about Smoke even before it was finished”:

  1. 1
    MacGregor says:

    To see those assorted images in that clip, complete carnage & so lucky no one was injured or worse. A seminal part of rock music history indeed. Who was the fool who fired that flare, utter stupidity & madness. Cheers.

  2. 2
    Uwe Hornung says:

    The riff is insanely catchy, but not dumb or simplistic. There is even a blue note in there, the sixth note (a G#/C# that then goes back to G/C as the seventh note). That is pretty nifty and makes a world of a difference in the riff. And playing a blue note so prominently is not that common in music either.

    And a lot of the songs charm lies in the intro: How Ritchie plays the riff alone twice (left speaker), then Jon doubles it on Hammond (right speaker), Little Ian plays the sixteenth notes (not eighths or quarters as many drummers would have), adds the snare on the fourth repetition and then finally Roger does his orgiastic chromatic run E-F-F#-G on the fifth repetition. Those six repetitions of the SOTW riff before the verse commences say everything about how “neatly constructed” Purple’s music is. Lovely.

  3. 3
    Svante Axbacke says:

    @1: He was Zdenek Spicka: https://darrensmusicblog.com/2021/01/22/deep-purples-smoke-on-the-water-so-who-actually-was-the-stupid-with-a-flare-gun/

  4. 4
    Svante Axbacke says:

    @2: Jon Lord told me once that he was the guy behind that note. Apparently it wasn’t there in the first version of the riff.

  5. 5
    MacGregor says:

    Svante @ 3- thanks for that link. I do remember him now, I think there was something about him a little while ago, here at THS perhaps. Somewhere anyway. Cheers.

  6. 6
    Marcus says:

    Fails to mention they were sharing the Montreux Palace hotel with Nabokov who was writing Transparent Things.

    Richard Strauss also composed his Four Last Songs there, and Freddy Mercury stayed while recording his last songs at the studio in the new casino.

  7. 7
    john says:

    Ever since “Smoke on the Water” first came out on Purple’s eighth studio album “Machine Head”

    Even considering The Concerto as their 4th SA, MH’d be the 7th.


  8. 8
    James Steven Gemmell says:

    @Svante Lord was the perfectionistic composer who took Ritchie’s brilliant ideas (and Morse’s) and made sure the whole package worked together accurately. As Gillan once said – paraphrasing – “One thing I know for sure is, the music is technically correct because of Jon.” And few bands can say that. I notice in the in-studio video recordings that have come with some of the recent DP albums that Paice quarterbacks a lot of the quality control, too. He told Morse to stop during one recording I saw because the band was laying down the bed track and Morse was drifting off a bit into a solo. Paice barked at him to play just the basic chord during that portion of the recording so he (Paice) could keep the beat. Similarly, McCartney was asking Paice about whether he would be able to play a certain way on a recording in the late 1990s and Paice replied – paraphrasing – “You do realize I’m the drummer for Deep Purple, right?” You’ve got to have a lot of skill and confidence to put a Beatle in his place.

  9. 9
    Uwe Hornung says:

    Resident Viking @2: Takk, Svante, I didn’t know that! Makes sense as the G#/C# cannot only be viewed as a blue note, but also as a tritone (the same note Black Sabbath used as their dramatic third note in the riff of their song “Black Sabbath”) to the key of G in which SOTW is written. While it is often claimed that the tritone as the devil’s note was banned from church and classical music, that is not true. Its telltale dramatic effect was used in classical music too. Jon, having both a blues and a classical music background, must have been aware of that. And in his own solos he used the tritone frequently.

    That riff is nothing without that note, Jon’s contribution was vital.

  10. 10
    MacGregor says:

    The poor ole Devil gets the blame for so many things. Talk about being ‘guilty’ & not being able to prove his or her innocence.

    Classic Rock Louder has a recent article on what Lemmy’s thoughts on religion were. It is indeed worth a read, so true also & as always good comedy. Cheers.

  11. 11
    MacGregor says:

    A brain fade on my behalf, apologies for posting a potentially ‘religious’ comment, knowing that that sort of topic & politics are a no go here & rightly so. I was thinking of Lemmy & his take on it regarding the Classic Rock Louder story, following the devils chord or note being mentioned, the infamous tritone. Cheers.

  12. 12
    Andrew M says:

    Hate to say anything bad about “Smoke”, but I’ve always thought it a little incongruous that Gillan comes in on the vocals with such tremendous attack, but all he tells us is that the band did some traveling.

    Off-topic: Spotify no longer has the remastered versions of “In Rock” and “Fireball” or Don’s excellent solo album, “A Light In the Sky”. Other good things may have disappeared too. What’s up with that?

  13. 13
    Uwe Hornung says:

    Someone once joked to me: “With Gillan I sometimes get the impression that he takes a dump in the bathroom in the morning and by afternoon has written a song about it.” To which I replied: “Exactly, that’s what’s so great about him!”.

    Most of life isn’t drama, but banal, little things, everyday life and routine. Ian is a very keen observer of the mundane. I love that lyrical aspect in his work.

    “In the Birmingham Mail
    They reported a whale
    They’d discovered in the dead of night
    In the local canal
    It was found by a pal
    Of the bloke who’d lost it from his bike”

    Sheer bloody poetry, no less.

  14. 14
    Fernando Mattedi says:

    Read this awesome comments Full of details and related stories is as good as Reading THS articles. You are all amazing , friends! Thank you Very much for sharing so much !!! Cheers!

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