Posts Tagged ‘machine head’

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.

Smoke stories

June 29, 2020

Some more new additions to our growing collection of stories with a Smoke On The Water theme on the site.  The store front in this photo is now thought to be a fake but several businesses in America have used the song title to front Cannabis businesses, and it has been used on some outlets, more are illustrated:  Smoke On The Water Stories page 4.  Do let us know of any more such links with the song you come across.

smoke on the water

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.

 

 

 

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!”

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?).

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

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!

Today’s mystery object?

February 9, 2015

Researching for the upcoming Machine Head book (more details…), the subject of that box of tricks gaffer-taped to the top of Jon’s Hammond organ for a number of years cropped up again.  So for anyone not familiar with the Maestro (rather than the maestro’s!) Ring Modulator, first heard by most fans on the Made In Japan (and ringed on this great photo, taken at the Rainbow Theatre at the end of June 1972), here’s a special DTB featurette.

Deep Purple ring modulator 1972