Thursday, September 27, 2012

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

In 1972 one of the most revolutionary albums in the rock and metal genres was released to the public. Deep Purple’s Machine Head album to this day continues to astound and inspire people across the world. For the 40th anniversary of its release, a multitude of artists came together to record their own interpretations of every single track from the album for a release called Re-Machined: A Tribute to Deep Purple’s Machine Head. Such artists include:

Carlos Santana
Jacoby Shaddix
Glenn Hughes
Black Label Society
Kings of Chaos
The Flaming Lips
Jimmy Barnes
Joe Bonamassa
Iron Maiden
Steve Vai
Lauchlan Dole

There are two versions of Highway Star recorded for this album. The first is a live cover done by Chickenfoot, which is comprised of Sammy Hagar, Chad Smith, Michael Anthony, and Joe Satriani. What makes this cover special is that Satriani manages to do Jon Lord’s organ solo entirely on guitar. If you know anything about Lord’s style, something like this is NOT easy by any means.

The second version gets me a bit more excited. This version has Glenn Hughes singing and playing bass, Chad Smith playing Drums, Lauchlan Dole on organ, and Steve Vai on guitar. Vai adds a lot more guitar flare to this version and it does wonders. Hughes, who was in Deep Purple Marks 3 and 4 has surprisingly good vocals on this track. His voice has aged and fits well with the song.

Maybe I’m a Leo also features Chad Smith and Glenn Hughes. This track is a heavier take on the original song. While the new version loses some of the funky blues groove Deep Purple’s version had, it makes up for it by making it a bit of a head-banging hard rock song. The listener can still move to it and enjoy it.

Black Label Society, which is guitarist Zakk Wylde’s band covers the song Pictures of Home. In this version, the band slows the tempo and slightly changes the rhythm from the original product. The solo guitar work features a lot of signature elements of Wylde’s playing style. Surprisingly, the rhythm guitar is done acoustically which is a major change to the song. The most enjoyable aspects of the song are the vocals and how one is able to sway to the new rhythm. Overall, the reinterpretation still keeps the same feeling of loneliness that the original presented.

Never Before features super group Kings of Chaos; which is comprised of Joe Elliot of Def Leppard on Vocals, Duff McKagan of Guns N’ Roses, Loaded, and Velvet Revolver on bass, Steve Stevens of Billy Idol on guitar, and Matt Sorum of The Cult, Guns N’ Roses, and Velvet Revolver on drums. This cover sticks very close to the original version. The only differences are that it is tuned down a half step from its original tuning and a few small guitar nuances. Personally I thought this track was done brilliantly. It was kept the same, but with a slightly more modern touch.

There are two versions of the song that everyone knows Deep Purple for; Smoke on the Water. The first version is done by Carlos Santana and Jacoby Shaddix. This version is absolutely wonderful. Carlos brings out some of the most extraordinary guitar work that I’ve heard him do in a long time. The cover has a bit of a salsa element added to it with the drumming done on congas. Shaddix’s grungy vocals added a great element of rock to it. I could not have asked for better.

The second version was done by The Flaming Lips. This is the only cover on Re-Machined that I absolutely did NOT like. It has almost no elements of the original song in it whatsoever. The instruments all sound like they were done on a cheap Casio keyboard. The vocals sound like I’m listening to a conductor reciting them from a piece of paper through a coach PA on the last train run of the evening. I got absolutely no enjoyment whatsoever. If I were you, I would just skip over this track and stick with Santana’s version.

Lazy is what I feel to be the crowning jewel of the entire album. It features Joe Bonamassa and Brad Whitford playing guitar and Jimmy Barnes on vocals. Out of all the tracks, this sticks closest to the original while still making it sound like it came out of this century. The opening organ solo is absolutely surreal in such an amazing way. There are multiple blistering solo trade-offs between organ and guitar before the vocals kick in. Barnes does amazing justice to the vocals of this song. He was able to hit all the high screams while also still doing all the bluesy normal vocals. I honestly cannot sing the praises of this track enough.

From there, Iron Maiden takes over on covering Space Truckin’. Their version is a lot heavier than the original track by a long shot. However, it still sounds like rock rather than metal. Bruce Dickinson was able to do all the high screams of the song, but the melodic parts sounded just a little bit forced. Overall, I enjoyed the song. The guitar work was spot on and the rest of the band never missed a beat.

Finally, Metallica did a complete reinterpretation of When a Blind Man Cries. What was originally a soft, sad blues ballad became an epic sounding tale of woe. James Hetfield sounds his age in this song, but he still manages to do a good job overall. Kirk Hammett’s interpretation of the solo was splendid. While he kept a lot of elements of the original guitar solo in his, he made the whole thing his own and was really able to shine through. Overall, it’s a worthwhile track to listen to.

Re-Machined is now available for purchase on Amazon, iTunes, and in physical format as of September 21, 2012. If you enjoyed the original Deep Purple album, Re-Machined is worth the time to check out. These artists poured their souls into every last track recorded; which goes to show that even today Deep Purple has had a major impact on musicians across the globe.

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