“Deep Purple – Machine Head” is another DVD in the Classic Albums
series from Eagle Rock Entertainment. It was released during 2002.
Of course, as a longtime fan of the band, I was looking forward to
watching this installment of this series. “Machine Head” was the
band’s most famous album, which was recorded in December 1971
and released two or three months later. In the true Classic Albums
tradition, this DVD footage takes the viewer behind the scenes into
the mixing console room, where the Deep Purple personnel and
famed engineer Martin Birch, a.k.a. Deep Purple’s “sixth band
member,” discuss the music and the circumstances surrounding
the recording of the album.
This disc contains valuable bits of archival footage from televised
and filmed concerts, and even includes a segment of Jon Lord’s
1969 “Concerto for Group and Orchestra,” written shortly after
Ian Gillan and Roger Glover joined Deep Purple, forming the
Mark II lineup.
I was particularly pleased with the interview footage of
Ritchie Blackmore, which was presumably shot around 2002
at his home. By then, he was most likely in full “Blackmore’s Night”
mode, and focused on performing in his current Renaissance
group that he founded with his wife, Candice Night. As many will
remember, Ritchie Blackmore quit performing with Deep Purple
under less-than-favorable conditions while they were on tour in
1993. This was the first time I’d ever heard Blackmore speak, and
considering what I’d heard about the friction he supposedly caused,
especially with Ian Gillan, I was surprised and delighted that the
producers of this DVD were able to enlist his services. As you can
imagine, this greatly added to the value of the disc, and Blackmore
often demonstrated musical points on his acoustic guitar
while he was interviewed.
Jon Lord also provided musical demonstrations, and a most
interesting feature was his description of changing his organ’s
sound by eliminating the Leslie speaker usually associated with
the Hammond B-3 organ and plugging directly into a Marshall
speaker, thereby producing his trademark “bigger, meaner” sound.
“Machine Head” on DVD is special for me. Including the bonus
features, its running time of roughly 100 minutes is by far the
longest installment in the Classic Albums series, devoted to a single
album. It is filled with priceless anecdotes, technical information
and the like. The only mystery that will be immediately evident
to other Deep Purple aficionados is the omission of the song,
“Lazy.” It wasn’t mentioned, let alone discussed, even once.
However, I was still grateful for everything else and felt privileged
to have seen this disc. I love watching documentaries about the
“process,” and consider “Machine Head” to be essential viewing
for Deep Purple fans.