Archive for the ‘Machine Head’ Category

C’mon, let’s go…

August 3, 2017

If Galaxy Quest is one of your rainy Sunday film treats, you may enjoy the trailer/s for a new 2017 US Sci-fi parody series called The Orville.  You may even recognise one of the Machine Head classics used as the music for the first one!  Thanks to Karl-Heinz Baier for the heads up. Will certainly be waiting for a DVD release (unless of course BBC2 could find a gap in between perpetual repeats of Dad’s Army to squeeze it in?).

Advertisements

office cock up 45 years ago?

February 13, 2017

I know it’s Monday morning, but can we try and solve a conundrum?  Put simply, has anyone out there got a genuine U.S. Warner Brothers white label promotional copy of Machine Head?  Working on the discography for the upcoming book on the album and talking to collectors like Pericle in Italy, nobody seems to have seen one.  We know W.Bros did white labels for all the other Deep Purple albums in the Seventies up to Burn (for the last two they used regular Burbank Tree labels and overprinted the promo text.). These have a white label with the regular text details in black and the wording “Promotional use Only”.

MHead-US-promo-sticker.jpg

Often the front sleeve also has a large rectangular sticker across with the track information and times (to make life easier for DJs). So unless someone has a copy like this for Machine Head, then it does raise the possibility that somebody just forgot to order up a run in time, which is what Pericle, who has been on the lookout for a copy for ages, thinks might explain the mystery. As he says, the only U.S. promo copies of Machine Head which turn up are the regular U.S. green label pressing but with a largish pink and black circular promo sticker on the back sleeve.  We do run a risk that by mentioning it here, if a few copies do exist they will suddenly climb in value, but Pericle reckons it’s a risk worth taking to get to the bottom of the mystery!

Below is a white label Warners did for Concerto when they took the release over. The Machine Head one would be similar. And possibly ever rarer!

Concerto white label.jpg

The sites

July 22, 2016

Smoke On The Water

Back in Blighty, and time for the final report on the Montreux trip.
As we mentioned, one of the reasons for the visit was for myself and Stephen to try and nail locations associated with the Machine Head sessions.  We were fortunate in this to have the help of Jean Paul, who worked with Claude Nobs for over a decade, and was a good friend ever since they met at scouts as teenagers.
JP, as everyone knows him, performed any number of duties, and shared an office with Claude from the late 60s and was there during Deep Purple’s stay in late 1971. As such he helped book hotels, and was instrumental in the hunt for alternate recording sites after the Casino fire (having been one of the crew who helped shove the Stones Mobile to relative safety earlier). And if you know the Didi Zill shot of Roger getting his teeth into a tasty looking burger during the recording, then JP (who was a Michelin starred chef) cooked those as well!
We met with any number of interesting people and numerous current residents, even the owner of the building, and got lots of detail about their stay in in 1971.
It is clear that there is a lot of goodwill from all concerned to make sure the building is suitably signed in future, as well as making some kind of trail for the sites associated with the album sessions (and a map for visitors to download).  After I had given everyone a quick history lesson (they sprang this on me just 48 hours in advance), Roger Glover told his side of the story to the assembled guests, before the chap who handles the area’s residents association then explained how he saw this going ahead. It is tricky because they do not want to disturb the privacy of the residents, but they would like to have the history better known. There is a plan for a large plaque or interpretive panel of some sort, but getting permission is complex as it is a listed building.  This visit had to be kept private, but if all goes well it might be possible to arrange future official pre-booked visits open to all.
Originally both Ian Gillan and Ian Paice had wanted to come as well. IP as you might imagine is being very carefully looked after, his wife Jackie travelling with him, and on the day they decided he needed the extra rest after the show the night before. Don Airey did come along though (and was as much taken by JP’s beautiful vintage MG outside the foyer as anything else!).
After the formalities, everyone had a chance to explore the corridor and the Doctor who lives in the far end (which is partitioned off now and forms part of his study) kindly opened his flat so Roger and everyone could work out where the band were all set up.
After an hour or so, when people had begun to leave, we were able to tour the rest of the building (which is listed) and then spend a couple of hours in the company of Yvon, one of the apartment residents who had helped organise the visit, and interviewing JP informally to get his take on the events and answers to many of our questions.  I’ve done a few rock interviews in my time, but sat on benches under the trees on the Lake Geneva shoreline (!) beats them all.
We then spent some time trying to take photographs to match up with those from the time. The above photograph shows the corridor as it is now for example. It was always hard to grasp the size of the blaze, but the photo below gives us an idea; the red awning on the left is the current Casino.  When it went up, the flames at one stage reached to the top of the apartment block on the right, and it was feared it too might catch fire.

casino, Montreux, 2016

We did have one reporter and photographer attend, and some of their material has already appeared in the local press.  There is also a report online in the Geneva Tribune (in French), with more professional photographs (the link to Smoke live is not from this year’s show.)
One reason for all this was to push me on to wrap up work on the upcoming Machine Head book, and if you want to keep in touch on this then it would be wise to scoot over to the publisher’s website and sign up for the newsletter if you have not already done so.  They are hoping to get the book out before Christmas.
In the meantime a big thanks to Stephen Clare who made some of the initial contacts for us; to everyone in Montreux who helped get this together, and Roger Glover for agreeing to take part. It was nice also to meet up with Mike Wiklund again (for the first time since Jon’s memorable farewell show in Ipswich), he was in Montreux for his 99th Deep Purple concert!, and photographer Sue Burton, who like us had decided just to make the trip as it was something she felt she ought to try and do at least once as a Deep Purple fan.

Lastly, I like quirks of fate.  While the Casino burnt out and was demolished, apparently some of the fire crew did pull fixtures and fittings out.  Some of the chairs survived.  And are still being used today!  I was quite sceptical, fearing we were being wound up by our hosts, but underneath it still has the Casino address property label…  though quite why anyone would want to risk their lives for something like this is beyond me.

smoke on the water

Nouvelle Review

December 4, 2015

Deep Purple Montreux fire Smoke On The Water

There is something fascinating about old newspaper archives and seeing how people got the news about important events. One of the avenues of research for the upcoming Machine Head book has been to see how they covered to story in the country, and this front page is from the Nouvelle Review. As this did not have a Sunday edition, the story is from the Monday after the fire (which happened 44 years ago today) and clearly it is still big news.  But not too big to squeeze some of the weekend sports stories off the front page! (And a reminder too of issues closer to home, with a brief report of an explosion in a Belfast restaurant as events there began to worsen.)  Coverage of the fire and the aftermath continued across page two and as late as May the following year the debate was still going on, and journalists were trying to get to the truth behind many of the rumours about the causes of the fire.  Read more about the book on the publisher’s sitehe

Up in Smoke

September 23, 2015

claude nobs during montreux casino fire

Work on the Machine Head book is proceeding, with Stephen corresponding with Jean Paul, who was at the Casino event the night the place went up.  And he clearly wasn’t afraid to get stuck in either.  This amazing photo we’ve seen before on this site, but we now know that is Jean himself on the right with Claude Nobs desperately trying to get one of the hoses round to tackle part of the blaze.  Jean was one of Claude’s best friends, and has been able to help us fill in some of his early career and  explain how the whole Montreux Super Pop and Jazz festival events came about.
During work on the book we’ve also found pictures of the blaze inside the casino roof which kicked the whole saga off (though you do wonder who would stop inside the hall to take such a picture…!), and a bewildered security guy on the stage with a megaphone trying to get people to take it seriously and leave.  The more I see of the event the more I’m amazed everyone got out safely.  Claude by the way reckoned the band only finished Smoke off for him as a thank-you tape given at a party before they left, and hadn’t intended it for the album….  We’re still trying to get the chronology sorted as photographer Didi Zill now thinks he snapped Ian writing the lyrics only a couple of days after the fire. As ever any info on the scene or events welcome!

Smoke On The Radio

June 15, 2015

Smoke On The Water American promotion label 1973As most fans know, the studio / live edits of Smoke On The Water were issued as a (more or less) contemporary single almost everywhere but Britain. It first appeared in North America in the spring of 1973, and it was the success of the single there (top five in US and Canada) which inspired most other countries to follow suit.
A lot of the success in North America has been put down to it being taken up by radio stations there and heavily played. However 40 plus years on there is little documentary evidence to back this up. Researching for the upcoming Machine Head book, we are hoping fans in the U.S. and Canada (or anywhere else) who might have any knowledge of the song’s presentation on the radio stations there might be able to shed some light on it. Perhaps you have recollections of hearing the song played a lot on certain stations; maybe you worked in a radio station and can shed light on how it was programmed, or know someone who did, and can give us a bit of an insight into Smoke On The Water on U.S radio back in the spring of 1973. Do get in touch.

Who’s the bassist in the black?

January 16, 2015

Ritchie Blackmore playing bass, Montreux, 1971

Well we know who the bassist is obviously, but couldn’t resist the header!  It’s Ritchie Blackmore, caught by a 15 year old fan at the side of the stage with his instamatic back in April 1971.  Apart from the fact that Blackmore has made a swop with Roger for the Precision bass, the extra interest is that the band are playing at the Montreux Casino just 8 months before they would return there with plans to record an album on this very same stage. I think it’s one of the earliest shots of Ritchie with a bass, there are a couple of Ritchie playing bass with Alex Harvey from 1974.

Jean-Lou who took the shot can’t recall too much about the show (and to be fair my recollections of first seeing the band that same year are a little limited), but he has hunted out his original photographs so we can get hi-res scans which will appear in the upcoming Machine Head book Fire In The Sky later this year.  If there are any other fans out there who saw the band at the time, or went to the infamous Zappa show in December, please do get in touch.

Thanks also to Stephen Clare.  Here’s a recent pic of him doing the same thing, 40 something years on; not sure about the pink finish though!

Ritchie Blackmore pink bass guitar

Machine Head shout out

December 9, 2014

Deep Purple rolling stones mobileIt being that time of year (Christmas? No, much more important – the anniversary of the Machine Head sessions! 43 years ago this week) I’ve been reminded to mention the ‘looking back’ feature we did some time ago which some will have missed. A sort of glance at events day by day in December 1971.  It’s been updated a little, we now know for example that Jon drove down in his E-Type Jag (nice), but fun to look through and think back.

We are working on the Machine Head book (Fire In The Sky), which will follow the In Rock title early in the new year. More details of that on the publisher’s website (where you can also join a newsletter service to keep up to date on progress). In connection with this, if there is anyone out there who knows people who worked at The Grand Hotel or the other venues the band used / stayed in, please try and put us in touch.  If you worked for the Stones Mobile crew back then (in the office perhaps) we’d love to ask some questions. We have found a few people who went to the actual Zappa show too and witnessed the fire, but it would be interesting to get more reports.

 

Something for this weekend?

September 5, 2014
Smoke On The Water Lyme Regis

Ian Gillan’s backing band for the latest Smoke On The water record attempt at Lyme Regis this weekend!

Join Ian Gillan on Saturday to play Smoke On The Water!  The catch?  There will be two and a half thousand others also with the same idea.  The Guitars On The Beach 2 event is on the beach (der) at Lyme Regis, and sees the crowd attempting to break the world record for the biggest band or something.  I can’t really work it out from the web site to be honest, and some of the links are broken, but it does confirm that IG is due to fly over from the US to help direct the Smoke section around 4.00pm. There’s also stuff by ZZTop and others. Anyhow, here’s the link if you fancy a day out (or two days – again the web site is not clear on this, though IG is due on the Saturday).  I’ve spoken to Keeley Donovan who says the weather is going to be great, so start knotting those handkerchiefs.  And sorry not to have mentioned this before, I just forgot.  Tim Summers reminded me.

Highway Star at 16 rpm

August 29, 2014
Yngwie-Malmsteen

It’s all rubbish, all you need to play the solo are these two fingers…

Mention of the Learn The Highway Star Solo in Two Years book (see below)  prompted John Tucker to send in this quote from another aspiring guitarist trying to get to grips with the solo, which comes from Brian Tatler’s autobiography (the guitarist of influential NWOBHM band Diamond Head – Dave is his older brother):

 “I would borrow Dave’s Linear Concord 30 watt amp and plug it into a three watt Cellestion speaker that I rescued from an old gramophone. I soldered a jack plug onto it, not having a clue about ohms or impedance, so the speaker would distort horribly, but I liked it. At fifteen I took up the guitar seriously and became obsessed with it. It took me about six months to master the basics, pestering Dave to show me how to play things I didn’t know. I would play every night after school and at weekends, Dave reckoning now that I would sometimes practice six hours a day. I really wanted to be able to play the guitar solo in Deep Purple’s ‘Highway Star’, but I had no idea what Ritchie Blackmore was up to. I would be upstairs in my own little world, slowing the records down in order to learn the licks. The record player had a 16, 33⅓, and 45 rpm turntable speeds so I could put an album on at 16rpm and it would be approximately an octave lower and half the speed. We also owned a reel-to-reel tape recorder so I could tape a solo at 16rpm then listen to it over and over again on the tape recorder, stopping and learning a little piece at a time. It did, however, take me years to realise that the ‘Highway Star’ solo was in fact double-tracked, and so was impossible to play with one guitar anyway!”