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Re-Machined: A Tribute to Deep Purple's Machine Head

Label: Eagle Rock Ent.
Format: CD
Released: 2012
Reviewed By: Jack Mangan
Rating: 9/ 10

This is a cool thing. An all-star roster have assembled on "Re-Machined: A Tribute to Deep Purple's Machine Head" to commemorate the 40th anniversary of one of the most monumentally important and under-appreciated albums in the history of most rock genres. The album, plus a B-Side, is covered song-by-song, with two interpretations for the uber-famous, uber-iconic, uber-influential ‘Smoke on the Water’ and ‘Highway Star’. Like the original, this tribute is not perfect, but it's damn wonderful, and worthy of any Purple/rock/metal fan's attention. It takes some pretty special folks to fill the incredibly-talented shoes of Ian Gillan, Ritchie Blackmore, Jon Lord, Roger Glover, and Ian Paice, and the musicians present mostly pull it off.


The best way to review is to discuss each of the songs and its players:

‘Smoke on the Water’ - Carlos Santana and Jacoby Shaddix (Papa Roach). I'm not much of a Papa Roach fan, but damn, does Jacoby Shaddix nail the vocals. Ian Gillan is one of metal's all-time great vocal talents, and this guy does not do him dishonor. Sadly, some stupid with a wah-wah pedal does burn the rest of the song to the ground. I'm (sort-of) kidding, and not really calling Carlos Santana "some stupid". I do have to wonder if he found the song too dull or too familiar, though, and why he felt that he needed to wank and pad out the song's groove? The excessive noodling detracts, but doesn't destroy. This is still a pretty powerful, lively, fresh take on the song.

‘Highway Star’ - Chickenfoot. This is a live cover, which, aside from Sammy Hagar chattering all over the intro, is near perfect. Joe Satriani is Chickenfoot's guitarist, and is as well-suited as anyone to deliver Ritchie Blackmore's greatest solo. The original is still better, but that's no slight on the sound here. This must have been amazing to witness live, for the fortunate who were in attendance at this Chickenfoot show. Sammy Hagar is no Ian Gillan, but he still nails the (sung) vocal performance.

‘Maybe I'm a Leo’ - Glenn Hughes and Chad Smith. OK, so even great albums have their placeholder tracks. Glenn Hughes sounds great. They do a good job with the tune. It's certainly not bad, but it's also never going to be the featured track on an album like this.

‘Pictures of Home’ - Black Label Society. See above. Zakk Wylde plays it pretty straight - - even straighter than Deep Purple did on the original - - but still, it doesn't do a whole lot. Perhaps Jon Lord would have appreciated this more than me, as he'd stated that this was his favorite track on "Machine Head."

‘Never Before’ - Good groovy filler track, shown much respect by the formed-for-this-project supergroup, Kings of Chaos, consisting of Joe Elliott, Steve Stevens, Duff McKagan, and Matt Sorum. I didn't recognize Joe Elliott, just from a cold listen.

‘Smoke on the Water’ - The Flaming Lips. The second interpretation is as way out there as Devo's cover of the Rolling Stones' ‘Satisfaction’. Gibby "Wang-Dang-Zang-a-Dong-Ling-Long" Haynes is on vocals here, but he really just speaks the words, with some backup from an 80s-sounding female-ish synth voice. Yep, it's out there. I do applaud The Flaming Lips for their creativity and originality; what they've produced here is almost a respectful parody of the original. Some may find that blasphemous, some may love its goofiness, I just find it to be little more than a noble effort. Is this song in its purest form too boring for a straight cover?

‘Lazy’ - Jimmy Barnes and Joe Bonamassa, My favorite of Machine Head's *deep album cuts*, these guys do an amazing cover. This may be the most successful track on Re-Machined. Put on some massive headphones, tune in, turn on, and drop out for the full almost 9 minutes.

‘Space Truckin’ - Iron Maiden. Iron Maiden's legacy speaks for itself, but I've always found their covers to be lacking, and so I was concerned to see that they'd taken on ‘Space Truckin’. This sometimes-overlooked song, more than any other, breaks out the nostalgia hives for my old Machine Head cassette tape. I was able to breathe a sigh of relief; Iron Maiden prove themselves equal to the task. Bruce Dickinson does drop in a brief moment of silliness, almost as a wink to the listener, but never falters before the challenge of Ian Gillan's youthful 1972 screaminess. Up the Irons!

‘When a Blind Man Cries’ - Metallica. Metallica's prowess as a cover band is a bit more respected. James Hetfiled is no Ian Gillan, but he still does his job well. Metallica always brings the power (let's not get into what you think of Metallica), and they instill this one with some muscle where it's needed. Good job, boys. And thank you for not including Lou Reed during this recording session.

‘Highway Star’ - Glenn Hughes, Steve Vai, and Chad Smith. In case you had doubts about Glenn Hughes, he sounds fantastic again here. Unlike the Chickenfoot version, this is a studio track, and it's Steve Vai's guitar being playful in the beginning, rather than Sammy Hagar's childhood reminiscences. The energy here is just masterful. Steve Vai is no slouch either, and his delivery on the great guitar solo is possibly even better than Satriani's(!!). Of course, no one's ‘Highway Star’ solo could ever rival Blackmore's.

It's a treat to hear all of these great musicians here, and I'd love to see them gather to hit other classic rock albums. I have aired some minor grievances above, but really, no one involved in this project should be faulted. They do great honor to Deep Purple and their legacy. It may be a more accessible intro to "Machine Head" for damn kids today with their short attention spans and their big pants and their gauged earlobes, but I'd still always recommend that you start with Deep Purple's 1972 original. Then come and check out how these other great artists have interpreted them.

PS - - if you're having trouble finding transcripts of Lars Ulrich talking at length about anything, then you'll appreciate the liner notes, containing his thoughts on the greatness of Deep Purple and his fond memories.

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