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Machine Head documentary
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Superb, staggering

Maybe it's because I'm such a big Deep Purple fan, but the Classic Albums: Machine Head DVD struck me as the absolute best in this series that I've seen so far. Initially, as with several of the other Classic Albums programs, the history of the group is recounted up to the album in question. All five members of DP Mark 2 are interviewed, including the normally recalcitrant and reclusive Ritchie Blackmore. His openness and honesty in his segments is refreshing, though the other band members match him in theirs.

The main program covers five of the seven songs on Machine Head, plus the single b-side When A Blind Man Cries, recorded during the sessions (and now present on the remastered edition of the album). The extras on the disc touch on Maybe I'm A Leo, but for some strange reason, Lazy is never even mentioned!

Jon Lord, Roger Glover, and Ritchie Blackmore each play live re-creations of riffs or phrases from some of the Machine Head tracks during their interviews, though Blackmore plays an acoustic guitar throughout (giving a strange, different ambience to the Smoke On The Water classic notes). Martin Birch also makes several appearances, alternating with Roger Glover at the mixing console to play selected portions of the album tracks, usually highlighting one or another part, then bringing up the faders so that the entire band can be heard. For some reason, no real analysis of the SOTW guitar solo - and no indication that there was an alternate solo, as showcased on Roger Glover's remix - is performed.

The extra interviews are marvelous, and I don't see why they weren't integrated into the main program, unless the producers were really that interested in producing a 45-minute show that could be aired on VH1 or someplace similar. (There seems to be no television outlet for these shows currently, and they go straight to DVD, so what's the point?) [They are shown on TV in the UK. See separate review of the TV edition. Rasmus]

As a keyboardist, I suppose I'm biased in favor of Jon Lord's contributions, but the revelation that he got the extremely grungy organ sound by plugging the Hammond directly into a Marshall amplifier stack was staggering to me! (I always thought he simply switched the Leslie off; it's worked for me!)

No coverage is given to the band's history following the album. As far as any new viewer is concerned, Deep Purple's history ends with Machine Head. (And, of course, there are some who might believe it to be so!) Nevertheless, this is essential viewing for any Purple fan, and can be used to introduce potential converts to what the band was capable of doing when they were at their best. The classic story of how the album came to be recorded is recounted in more detail than I've seen anywhere.

The bonus footage (not attributed on the disc to a particular time or location, and Gillan certainly looks different in it) of Purple playing live is almost worth the price of the disc alone. This is a superb addition to DP's DVD catalog.

Mark Zutkoff

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