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Through the windows of room 56

A contemporary report from deep in the bowels of a certain Grand Hotel in Montreux, Switzerland. This was originally published in January 1, 1972, issue of New Musical Express.

Charlie Chaplin would approve

Richard Green, mixing with the Rothschilds, reports from the bizarre home-made studios in Switzerland where Purple are cutting their new album, `Machine Head`

TAKE a plane to Geneva, drive to Montreaux, pass the shell of the burned-out Casino, pull up at the rear entrance of the Grand Hotel, climb the marble steps, cross the lounge, enter room 62, walk through the French doors onto the balcony, go in through the windows of room 56, pass through two bathrooms and room 57, open the door into the corridor and there you find Deep Purple cutting their next album!

That may all sound just a little bizarre, but it’s just what I had to do at the weekend when I flew out from London to catch up on the progress of the successor to “Fireball” which has just re-entered the NME album chart.

Deep Purple had gone to Montreaux to appear at the Casino and they planned to cut an album there under simulated live concert conditions and then to cut another in a studio and issue them as a double package. But the fire put a stop to all that.

Continue reading in Music history for those who are able to read.

Many thanks to Geir Myklebust for posting this.

19 Comments to “Through the windows of room 56”:

  1. 1
    MacGregor says:

    It is food for thought, as it always has been. We wonder as to what the album would have turned out like if everything went to the original plan. The sound of it would have been different no doubt and possibly the vibe of certain songs. And of course one song at least would have never have existed. Much to the relief of thousand of musical store assistants across the globe in future years, the stores with that little message on a sign in the electric guitar section. Cheers.

  2. 2
    James Steven Gemmell says:

    Nice to read. Here is audio from the Zappa/Mothers of Invention concert where the fire broke out in Montreaux: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9lpFeopjJhI

  3. 3
    Jet Auto Jerry says:

    Nice tidbit, easy on the eye to read.

    Now, where’s the damn book already?!?!

  4. 4
    James Gemmell says:

    @MacGregor > Yes, indeed. All of the events, place, memories and momentoes surrounding that album are historic now. One thing I really love about ‘Machine Head’ is the rhythm-playing in the background. Only a really good headphone set can do it justice, especially on ‘Pictures of Home’ and ‘Maybe I’m a Leo’. Jon Lord’s playing was scintillating. And I think Roger Glover wanted to really showcase Ritchie’s rhythm-playing when he re-mixed the album in the late 1990s. Although Ritchie wasn’t happy Roger deleted Ritchie’s original guitar solo, the re-mix shows the incredible stuff Ritchie was playing in the background, much of which was buried or left off the original mix that appeared on the album. I think Glover may’ve left too much of Ritchie’s original solo out, but it was cool the way he added the trail-out on ‘Smoke on the Water’.

  5. 5
    Uwe Hornung says:

    Am I the odd man out here in saying that Machine Head has for me by far the best album sound of all Mk II 70ies output?

    People have derided the album as clinical and too dry sounding, I love it for the fact that it sounds like DP were in your living room playing in front of you, every instrument clearly audible and distinctly separated from the others, the band playing with an ear for each other and very focused. The stark directness und immediacy of the album struck me from the first time I heard it – it sounded like no other album in the early 70ies. No comparison to the vaulty, cavernous sounds of, say, Led Zep IV. Jimmy Page’s indirect, billowing production never appealed to me.

    Machine Head’s production was no frills, yet refined. How a five-piece-rock band should properly sound, a timeless sonic masterpiece with the purity of legendary jazz recordings.

    Ñow wasn’t that an accolade?! There is also not a weak track on it. To this day my fave DP album.

  6. 6
    Adel Faragalla says:

    Machine Head has the best materials that DP ever produced but to be honest ‘Fire Ball’ is the best produced album of MK2.
    That’s my opinion so I am not forcing it on anyone.

  7. 7
    MacGregor says:

    James @ 4 – Thanks for the review of the Machine Head remix from 1990’s. I have purchased the other 3 Mk 2 albums from that remaster & remix era but not Machine Head. I don’t think I have ever noticed it in the shops anywhere, the others I noticed & immediately bought. Which track did Glover leave the guitar solo off, Pictures or Maybe? Have they remixed it in surround also as the original lp was in quadraphonic. I have also purchased the Burn & Stormbringer remix cd’s, Stormbringer has a surround mix. I need to get my act together & get Machine Head. Cheers.

  8. 8
    MacGregor says:

    Uwe @ 5 – yes I have always enjoyed Machine Head as a good dry & direct sounding album, I also like Fireball & WDWTWA. In regards to the original Machine Head album, the glorious Quadraphonic mix was wonderful back in the day. I still remember helping to set up a friends huge JVC quad system outside at his mothers property (she was away for the weekend), so we could indulge & get sonically surrounded by Machine Head & Dark Side of the Moon. A memory I always cherish & will never forget.
    I have often bemoaned to music friends over the years that Led Zeppelin should have had someone else producing at times. Some of their mixes have always left me cold, so to speak. And DP were the band that I always said was great sounding on lp. What is it with these two bands, one brings the other into the equation. Was it that the guitarists both dabbled in the occult & they cast a spell over us lesser mortals, that will no doubt continue until our final day & beyond perhaps? He he he! The two dark guitarists of those two evil bands corrupting the innocent youth of our day. Cheers.

  9. 9
    MaGregor says:

    Currently reading older reviews of the remix release from the 1997 era. I do now remember reading about this a long time ago, well 2 decades back when the internet was young. I notice Maybe I’m A Leo mentioned as having a ‘new’ guitar solo & Pictures of Home with ‘original’ drum intro. Also Smoke with ‘new’ guitar solo & vocal parts & Lazy ‘new’ vocals, all on the remix cd. The original album stereo remaster says two tracks re released in Quadraphonic, Maybe I’m a Leo & Lazy. Of course When a Blind Man Cries is on both releases. I will have to get a little more serious in tracking this down, I cannot believe I have not chased this release before, time gets the better of us all, memories sometimes fade a little. Cheers.

  10. 10
    MacGregor says:

    Regarding Machine Head, has anyone ever noticed the Classic albums dvd & the fact that Lazy is not mentioned at all on that documentary? Well at least that is my memory of that dvd as I think back. I will search for it in my collection & view it again. Not sure if this has ever been discussed here at THS before. Cheers.

  11. 11
    nupsi59 says:

    @10: Hi! I mentioned the absence of “Lazy” on the Classic album DVD a few years ago!
    Have a nice Day!

  12. 12
    Uwe Hornung says:

    Herr MacGregor, wot, no MH remaster and remix? You do have to make amends! You could always sell some of your Led Zep cds. ; – p

    Which brings to my favorite subject: Purple’s 70ies oeuvre needs someone like Steven Wilson for a new generation of state of the art stereo mixes and new remasters. Especially In Rock – that 90ies remaster is almost painful to listen to today. It was the early days of CD remixing and remastering. Considering how pivotal that album was for the heavy rock of the 70ies, it has been extremely shabbily treated. Where is the boxed set with all outtakes, a coffee table book and an In Rock poster? Jon Lord and Martin Birch are already no longer with us, an opportunity missed.

    Why do always DP and LZ get compared? Easy, they were at the forefront of English hard rock and both – in the 70ies – similarly successful with it. Black Sabbath gets credit for the whole Grunge thing and I don’t dispute that, but it took them until the 90ies and the advent of Nirvana to get that far, saleswise they couldn’t touch either DP or LZ in the 70ies. DP and LZ were household names, BS was a cult band.

  13. 13
    James Steven Gemmell says:

    @MacGregor > Most of the original mix of Ritchie’s solo on ‘Smoke’ was left off in Roger Glover’s 1997 remix of Machine Head. The portion that Glover used in the solo section was Ritchie playing rhythm: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lxOG42MzukU
    Compare to the solo on the original mix: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zUwEIt9ez7M

  14. 14
    MacGregor says:

    Uwe @ 12 – it is even worse than that, not even a Machine Head in my collection in any format. I cannot believe this has occurred & if someone had said to me decades ago there will be a time in the future when you will not even own MH in any format, I would have laughed at them. Oooops, a major slip up me thinks & it needs to be corrected. I have even replaced the MK 1 albums. This all began about 20 years ago when I sold off most of my LP’s to begin the replacement of most of my records with cd, the scenario that LP audiophiles cringe at big time. Yes I may have to dispose or sell a few Zep discs, will anyone give me anything for them, that is the big question, ha ha ha.. In regards to Steven Wilson remixes, yes I agree, maybe it is time. I am not sure about In Rock being improved too much though, it just sounds that way, sure it could sound that way cleaner etc, someone should attempt it & Wilson has the respect & sonic ear to do it. When he commenced the King Crimson remixes a decade or so ago & continued on with a few Yes, ELP & Tull mixes, he said he was only doing albums that had a big influence on him in his younger days, so In Rock is that era. However, was he into DP, Zeppelin & Sabbath, I cannot recall him ever talking about them like I have the progressive bands. It would be grand though as he is incredibly good at doing that remixing & remastering. Cheers.

  15. 15
    MacGregor says:

    James @ 13 – thanks for that alternative different version. I can see why Blackmore & whoever else who may have persuaded him, picked the other solo, the original. Mind you, it is strange hearing an alternative so many decades after the one we always know, almost 50 years later for me. Cheers.

  16. 16
    MacGregor says:


    Some aficionados here may be interested in the many facets of these releases. I am particularly interested in the quad mixes, do they sound ok on surround systems these days. The Stormbringer quad mix sounds ok, although I am of the opinion that most rock music sounds better in stereo. Excepting Pink Floyd & other artists that had much more going on with sound effects etc. I own Hawkwinds Warrior on the Edge of Time mini box set, Steve Wilson did that albums re release. In surround sound it sounds magnificent. Cheers.

  17. 17
    Scott W says:

    I have this box set it’s really nice but I don’t have quad equipment to play it.


  18. 18
    Uwe Hornung says:

    Steven Wilson feels pigeon holed with his prog image. He has in recent years remixed Chicago and Black Sabbath (Vol. IV and Technical Ecstasy), both not exactly prog anorak bands. He’s on record for saying that he prefers ABBA to Genesis (which endeared him to the Genesis crowd which had hoped for him to remix their heroes’ work; now if he remixed ABBA, I’d be all for that!) and has stopped remixing ELP because the music’s focus on testosterone charged virtuosity doesn’t speak to him. I’m sure he would remix In Rock in a heartbeat if someone asked him nicely. It’s an iconic album of the period even if you are not a DP fan.

    Wilson’s music has changed too since Porcupine Tree days, a lot more pop and 80ies synth influence showing.

    In Rock is by nature a distorted, overdriven – mine goes to eleven … – recording, it really is DP’s garage band sound recording (which was and is part of its underground appeal, there is something metallic to that album’s sonics, almost in an MC5/Stooges vein). The mid-nineties remaster and remix brought that out even more, to my ears painfully so. What the record needs it a remix giving it some warmth and sub-low ooomph.

    Roger for one was never satisfied about how his bass sounded on In Rock. (In part that had to do with him playing a Fender Precision on In Rock and a Fender Mustang on Fireball, he really only found his sound with the Rickenbacker you hear on Machine Head, MiJ and WDWTWA.)

  19. 19
    MacGregor says:

    @ 18 – Steven Wilson did remix some early XTC as he was into that pop rock thing at that time. I don’t follow him these days musically, I listened to a few of his albums after Porcupine Tree folded, but I was over his morbid approach to songwriting by then. I witnessed the Tree in action twice, in 2009 & 2o10, both exceptional concerts by superb musicians with an awesome sound overall. I remember he only remixed one or two ELP because that is all he was into back in his younger days, same with Crimson, no later than 1974 & it may well be the same with Yes. I think he went a little further with Tull, but I wasn’t up on him working on any of Sabbath’s remasters. I don’t think he remixed them, see my ranting here a little while ago in regards to Sabbath NOT remixing Sabotage & Volume 4.
    I might check out how far he has gone with those Sabbath albums, but I am sure I read that they were only remastered. No doubt as he has become popular over the years he may be remixing & remastering all sorts of music & why not. It would be good if he did remix the Gabriel 73-74 Genesis albums Selling England & The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway. I remember his Abba comments & he has always had a fondness for the pop melodies & songs of bygone era’s. Regarding Deep Purple In Rock, yes indeed, I wish he would clean it up, it needs it. However as you say it does have a unique sound to it & that is part of it’s charm. Agree with the Glover’s bass sound comment, have to love those Rickenbacker bass guitars from that era. Cheers.

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