Archive for the ‘Machine Head’ Category

Martin Birch. RIP.

August 10, 2020

Or should I say Martin Birchtree, Enginearole, as he was memorably credited on one Machine Head tape reel…

1970 was a cracking year to be let loose in the record shops, seeing how far my pocket money would go. I bought Deep Purple In Rock of course (Engineer on Hard Lovin’ Man? Martin Birch) but did explore other bands, and one of the first singles I picked up was Fleetwood Mac’s Green Manalishi. Engineer? Martin Birch.
A mate at school then brought Thank Christ For The Bomb along to play a track from one day (in form assembly of all places) by The Groundhogs (to be outdone by Split later that year, an astonishing audio experience). Engineer? Martin Birch. Another lad was raving about the track Phoenix by a new band called Wishbone Ash. Engineer? Martin Birch.
And that was just 1970.
What I’m trying to say is that Martin’s name has been on my radar most of my music buying life. And the same happened with the next generation of rock fans as his credit began to appear on a raft of post-Deep Purple projects like Whitesnake, Rainbow and PAL. The following wave of heavy metal again drew on Martin’s skills, in particular Iron Maiden (though by now he was credited as Producer, Engineer, Mixer, Tape Op and Technician!). After which he hung up the earphones in his early 40s and left the business.
Despite that early retirement, the extensive list of studio projects he got through is remarkable when you start to look carefully through it, albeit for many Deep Purple fans it is Machine Head which will be the one he is probably most remembered for. I and a few others have literally been going over every felt pen mark on the album’s tape boxes this last week or so to try and glean the tiniest bit of new information from them for the upcoming biography. Indeed it is with a heavy heart that I will close the file on my laptop where I had begun a list of niggling questions I was hoping to put to him shortly (Derek Lawrence called him up last year on my behalf – they’d kept in touch, explained what we wanted, and got an OK to call, on the proviso to “tell him I’m very unlikely to remember anything very much!”).
The sixth member of Deep Purple? It’s a soubriquet which he certainly deserved thanks to his handling the rest of Deep Purple’s classic era (and in a couple of cases even beyond).
It’s unusual for studio personnel to become as well known as the musicians they work for, but judging from the astonishing coverage Martin Birch’s passing (at just 71) has generated among the papers and news sites today, as well as rock fans, we’re not the only ones for whom his work has resonated so strongly.

Santa back in lapland

March 19, 2020

red lion hotel

It seems Simon forgot to post the answer to the Santa Quiz, and some people are getting restless!  So now Santa is back home we can put everyone out of suspense; the hotel is question is where most of Deep Purple stayed while they rehearsed for their late 1972 British Tour nearby, where rehearsals for Machine Head also began.  We have asked if they have any booking diaries (before souvenir hunters descend) but the current owners say sadly not.  Still if that isn’t worth a blue plaque, we don’t know what is!  Mind you Simon was talking to Hanwell last year about doing the same for their building, so watch these spaces. And feel free to prompt.

Original post.  The Machine Head book publisher’s site.

 

 

 

Santa’s Quiz

December 20, 2019

Here’s a little puzzle for the Deep Purple historians out there.  This building, which is in Salisbury, played a role in the development of their Machine Head album in 1971.  It might actually be the longest running purpose built hotel in the country and parts dates back to the C13, although that’s not a clue. See if you can guess! We will post the answer shortly.  In the meantime the best wishes to everyone for a decent break over the holiday season, and Simon just wants to say thanks to everyone who has helped and contributed to the site (and our Facebook page) this past year and for people’s support and patience as well.

red lion hotel.jpg

Hellboy, meet Ritchie Blackmore…

March 6, 2019

A big fan of the first two Hellboy films, once the creative team were dropped for the third film (shot in London and due here in April) and Ron Perlman turned it down, it’s hard to know if it can recapture the spirit. Still, the second trailer rocks with a clever update of Smoke On The Water featured throughout which is pretty nifty!  It’s been a while since Purple got to figure in a soundtrack, Children Of Men was the last I recall seeing (Hush), but whether Smoke is just for the trailer or will feature in the film we don’t know.  As its also starring Ian McShane and Milla Jovovich we’ll probably jog down to see it on a big screen…

Thanks to Kenny Brown for the heads up.

Eighty minutes max.

August 31, 2018

Deep Purple‘s current American tour set list seems to have settled down. It’s always hard to rely 100% on initial reports as not everyone is familiar with the newer titles Stateside (one had them playing three Infinite tracks!) but the following seems to be what they’re doing:

Highway Star / Pictures of Home / Bloodsucker / Strange Kind of Woman / Sometimes I Feel Like Screaming (not played on the first night but added thereafter) / Uncommon Man / Lazy / Knocking at Your Back Door / Perfect Strangers / Space Truckin’ / Smoke on the Water. Hush (encore)

So five tracks off Machine Head and nothing off the current album. But this is what happened on their last U.S. trip, as they could feel the atmosphere dropped when they tried new stuff, so we should not be too surprised. European fans can feel a bit smug but it’s a bit of a shame for dedicated fans who do know the new stuff, maybe they ought to do a couple of advertised solo shows for them with the new material? The Deep Purple set is around 80 minutes, with support Judas Priest doing around 75 mins. There is an opening band, Temperance Movement. Dates are on our gig diary. Thanks to Tim Summers and others. Do let us know if you spot any changes. SR.

Make room…

August 3, 2018

It is the silly season after all. Since 2000, Machine Head (which is on my mind as I am working hard to wrap up the new book!) has been reissued on vinyl by Rhino, EMI, Back to Black, Universal and Warners, in a choice of clear, black or purple vinyl. And those are just the ones I know about.  So please forgive me if I can’t get too excited by this and the accompanying set of similarly coloured vinyl reissues of that part of the Deep Purple catalogue which Universal now control. And I own 25 copies of Machine Head, so must be their target market! What saner heads must think I can only guess.

Universal vinyl reissues 2018.jpg

Anyhow, if you missed them before, here’s your chance again.  Of course they’re remastered, although one suspects this just means a new master has been cut rather than anything more substantial (and I’m not certain remastering technology has developed that much in the three years since the last one!). And sure this work will have been done at Abbey Road, but only because that’s where the tapes are stored and copied. And yes they’re in a nice shade of purple, but then again so was the Machine Head reissue six years ago.  It is also limited, not really a big surprise as most reissue vinyl is these days. The sales people calculate the likely market and profit, an appropriate number are pressed, and then the run is closed.  It does seem to me major labels are quickly killing off this market; does the world need a reissue on vinyl of the first Now That’s What I Call Music LP?  Because there is one. I spotted it in Sainsbury’s last week.

Of course the set looks nice in the pack shot (let’s hope the sleeve scanner has remembered to remove the Record & Tape Exchange price stickers this time too!), but sadly they would just get squeezed onto our shelf, spine out. Maybe my £126 would be better spent on some more shelving.  

Any variations here? Well they’ve added the Mk 4 label to Last Concert, which also seems to have been pressed in black and purple vinyl (check the inner bag below where someone has forgotten the Photoshop mask)!  But you can pick up a nice original import press for only a few dollars more.  Or there is a very spiffing original first press minty looking copy of In Rock down at my local second hand shop. At least there is some history behind that.

Last Concert reissue.jpg

Unveiling

July 9, 2018

Montreux 4th July 2018 – Plaque Unveiling Ceremony at the Former Grand Hotel.

 

Ian Gillan by the plaque

Tim Summers has managed to pen us a few words about the event itself, for more see the two posts below…

With the proceedings due to kick off at 11 am, we hopped off the train at Territet with about 25 minutes to go and strolled across the street to the building itself. We struggled to recognise it at first due to it being covered in scaffolding; one reason for having the plaque located round at the unobstructed rear entrance – actually this made sense as this was where the mobile studio was parked – and it meant that we could hear the speeches (and not get run over!) shielded from the relatively busy road to the front.
As we arrived tables of food and drinks were being set up opposite the rear entrance, and a copy of Machine Head stood on a podium to the side, with a picture of the mobile studio parked there some 40-odd years previously on the wall at the other side. The good folk of Montreux made us feel very welcome, and we chatted with just the occasional craning of the neck to peer down the road to see if there was any sign of any Purple people arriving. Roger had promised to attend together with “whoever else he could drag along”. As 11 am approached, a sleek looking people carrier was sighted at the bottom of the slope; it drove up to the car park barrier and the doors opened – Roger was first out, followed by Ian Gillan and Paicey. They ambled up the road in the style of a royal walkabout, stopping to shake hands and chat with people in the assembled throng (of probably around 100 people).
Once at the top they went inside the foyer (which was open) and we followed them in – it was kind of awe-inspiring to be in such an historically significant building. They were happy to chat, pose for photos and sign anything thrust in front of them, and after a little while we ventured back out into the sunshine for the unveiling. There were speeches, including one from Paicey, who said that this was the first time he’d been back to the building since he finished work on the Machine Head album. He actually explained in terms I could understand the necessity of all that climbing out of windows/across balconies business too.
The plaque is a nice thing – not the sort of blue metal affair I was imagining, but rather a laser-etched glass creation, with a (surprisingly effective) button to back-illuminate it on command. As well as including a contemporary picture of the band from the time of recording the album, the plaque details the significance of the album and building too. I spoke to its Italian creator, and he said that he wanted to make something special for a band as important as Deep Purple.
Montreux itself is quite an amazing place, and it really comes alive for the annual music festival. Later in the day Roger did a sort of Q&A about the significance of it all, the fire and the recording of the album, and we spotted him again later just walking down the street (probably returning from the soundcheck for that night’s gig). Paicey summed up the sort of intertwined nature of the band and place in his closing remarks about the recording of Machine Head here: “Looking back on our career, probably one of the the most important 3 weeks of our lives”. –Tim Summers (thanks to Keith Sharp and Ian Edwards for the photographs).

Below, Keith’s picture of the plaque in situ. The text is a bit clunky but you should have seen it before we re-wrote it! It was supposed to have the album title and name off the sleeve too, not sure where those went…  But a very swish item which does the band proud.

Montreux Plaque 2018

Montreux ceremony

July 6, 2018

Couple of photographs from the July 4th Montreux event, kindly sent by Claude’s friend Jean Paul. Jean worked with Claude during the Machine Head sessions, and is on the right in the photo with Roger.

Glover at Montreux JPM

The photo below is from outside the former hotel foyer, and shows Gillan and Glover busy signing sleeves. Yvon Welt on the right of this photo has been instrumental in helping get the plaque put up, which you can see on the wall behind Ian. From today anyone visiting can at least be sure they are at the right building and the ceremony got lots of coverage in the Swiss press and further afield.  More information to follow!

Gillan and Paice outside foyer JPM

Drawing skills

June 8, 2018

Never Before sing a long lyrics from German magazine Bravo, 1972

The researchers for the upcoming Machine Head book have put a call out for a couple of items in case anyone in DTBland can help…

[1] Has anyone got a good clean scan of the album review from America’s Creem magazine in 1972? It most likely appeared in the May or June issue but might have slipped to Oct or Nov (they have checked other issues).

[2] In a similar search they are trying to source a good clean scan of the single review from the Australian music magazine Go-Set, printed in the Oct 6th 1973 issue. A contact there has kindly sent all the issues from microfilm but this page is too faded to use.

[3] Lastly (for now!) but perhaps most crucial has anyone got sufficient CAD skills to convert Simon’s rough sketch plan (and measurements – imperial!) of the Grand Hotel corridor studio circa 1971 into a presentable diagram? This can be a plan view or perhaps a 3D view like you sometimes see on those TV house alteration programmes. This is a for the love of it task but you would get a nice fat credit in the book.  Simon: “I am afraid I gave away my drawing board many years ago, my Rotring pens are all seized up, and attempts to do this in the Adobe software I use have been awful!”

Swiss time

April 18, 2018

Deep Purple return to play the Montreux Jazz Festival again this year, and appear on July 4th. They are headlining the Stravinski Auditorium (with support band). They last played here in 2016. My thanks to Lutz, Tom, Bo, Denis and everyone who sent me the update this week! Below, nice snap of fans waiting for an earlier show there, by Tiny Rager. One of those barriers would look good across the drive…