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Machine Head documentary
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Revealing and fantastic

I have always considered myself a huge Purple fan, but this documentary has put my appreciation on an entirely different level.

Deep Purple always had a special place in my heart; the swing, raunch, technical prowess, and arrogance has given me a lot of enjoyment over the years. However, I thought of them more as just a fantastic rock group, and maybe not artists, in the way the term is applied to other people such as Mingus, or say, Richard Thompson (two of my favorites). This was a terrible injustice.

Listening to people like Charles Mingus, one can hear many different influences (such as gospel, classical, dixieland, and blues) all rolled into one form, producing something very different. The parts are obvious enough to identify, yet subtle enough to sound completely new. Thompson combines styles from all over the world, without sounding like world music. This is the highest level of accomplishment an artist can achieve.

Other people (such as the nearly insufferable windbag, Robbie Robertson) go on and on about the thought process behind deliberately incorporating various styles of music into their songs, and so artistic due is given quite freely. However, Purple have always been self-effacing, and although they'd talk about Bach and Beethoven, I believe there was more to it than simply sticking in a few classical progressions in a song, in the hopes of having something that sounded cool. (An approach, I'm convinced that other groups, such as Sabbath, Maiden, and just about every hard rock band, employ.)

Machine Head is a shining example of various musical influences being combined to create something new. It is European rock where European influences have been incorporated with, and thus expanding, that other art form that is American, blues-based, rock and roll. It is the music of a group of people, who grew up with rock and roll, but also had their own, non-American influences. Americans could not have written Machine Head. Australians could not have written it. Only this group of people could do it.

The Machine Head documentary is fantastic. The interviews are revealing, the footage is excellent (stuff I've not seen 100 times), and the music is, well… you know about the music! My favorite parts are where Jon plays the riffs on his Hammond. I wish he'd put out an album where the organ is the lead instrument - no vocals, no guitar solos… no nothing - just a backing band with The Beast wailing away. I've gone off on a tangent here, but it's a tangent brought about by this documentary.

Iain Harnish

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