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Reviews: Deep Purple: Machine Head

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Reviews: 15

Review by JW July 3, 2003 (2 of 3 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
It's a pity and a shame* that the record company decided to add three bonus tracks to the Mch layer alone. The Mch layer gets an alternate mix of 'Maybe I'm A Leo' and 'Lazy', plus the slow blues "When A Blind Man Cries'. That leaves the 2Ch person with just over 37 minutes of what is arguably great music.

The CD layer has some awesome bass, good soundstaging and is recorded with lots of air around the instruments. In this type of blues-rock that is a distinct advantage, allowing you to hear the individual contributions very clearly and follow the melodic structure of the songs. The SACD layer improves on this performance according to the usual SACD benefits; more air, better tonal balance, better decay and representation of acoustical space. One of the things that jumped out in my view was the sheer 'weight' the SACD layer adds vs the CD layer. Since this is mostly overdriven guitar into Marshall amps you should hear it and the SACD delivers in spades. Overall this is a really good effort on SACD. It lacks perhaps that last bit of treble extension but look, this is not chamber music and the sonic character of this SACD befits the genre.

The SACD comes with a generous 28 page booklet. Roger Clover wrote the entire history of this album in the liner notes, plus there are some nice pictures. You also get a full song by song review of the album - a reprint from a newspaper article it seems.

Hold on, hold on ... but what about THE MUSIC ? The music...is gooood! This album deserves to be played LOUD. Deep Purple lays down some addictive tunes that almost 30 years after their release still sound fresh. Ritchie Blackmore's guitar playing is exemplary and makes this one of the great albums of guitar rock. If have been playing this disc for hours now and I cannot seem to tire of it. The clean, articulate and powerful rhythmns are entirely to blame for it. It makes you want to grow long hair so you can really start headbanging :-). My air guitar playing has definitely improved since I acquired this SACD.

Jw

*I hope someone is taking this complaint seriously. This is very cynical and misconceived marketing. Instead of acknowledging the early adopters of this format, it slaps them in the face. Both Stereo and Mch layers should have the same track listings.

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Review by emilsjr June 9, 2003 (2 of 2 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
EMI hits a homerun with this classic Deep Purple album, Machine Head. Offered in stereo and multi-channel, this disc is even more impressive than Dark Side of the Moon. While I agree with the previous reviewer about the lack of the bonus tracks in stereo, do not let that stop you from enjoying a very enjoyable audio experience.

The multi-channel disc is the original 4.0 quad mix of this album. No information is carried in the center or sub-woofer channel. For this material, this presentation works. Let's face facts. The center is always going to be a weakness in a majority of systems and I prefer 4.0 mixes to 5.1 with vocals to the center.

The bonus tracks are "Maybe I'm a Leo" (alternate), "Lazy" (alternate) and "When A Blind Man Cries", ,which is a beautiful track and is sorely missed when listening to this disc in stereo.

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Review by Audiophilander June 11, 2003 (7 of 7 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
There isn't much more that one can add information-wise to the reviews already presented here except to note that to my ears this presentation is much MUCH better than the version released on the other Hi-Rez format; this is based on a cursory comparison of the stereo tracks under admittedly less than optimum conditions (i.e., sound level matching was nigh onto impossible switching between my Anker modified SONY CE775 SACD Player and it's unarguably a better performer than my stock Panasonic RP91). That said, two critical things stood out in the comparison that should not have been impacted by the performance issues and sound level matching: 1) the stereophonic imaging present on the original album is almost non-existant on the Warner DVD-A, and 2) the visceral impact is substantially greater on the SACD than has been coaxed out of the analogue source tapes on all other digital mediums to date.

Is Machine Head perfect? Of course not, but regardless of the format this album has never been perfect. Just like Ritchie Blackmore hitting that one sour note in his famous "Smoke On The Water" solo Machine Head, its the minor imperfections which serve to make this album the enduring classic it is. To remove such imperfections would be tantamount to destroying the beauty of the original image that still influences countless millions to indulge in air guitar solos or secretly genuflect whenever those first three notes are played on the radio. This is why hearing the album as it was originally released in all it's analogue glory is a real treat. The SACD, which unfortunately is only available as an import sourced from Europe (EMI not having been completely gobbled up yet by the DVD-A consortium), is VERY analogue-like in that it has much of the warmth, beefiness and depth of the original LP. If there's a caveat, it's that the age of the mastertapes may be responsible for a little of the original LP's impact being sacrificed, noticeable in the slightly diminished echo effects in the decay of Ian Paice's high-hats in the closing fade of "Smoke On The Water" for instance, but that's nit-picking. Conversely, just listen to the tight delivery of Roger Glover's bass run in "Pictures Of Home" to realize that Machine Head NEVER sounded so rich or full.

Finally, to deviate slightly from the fine reviews already presented here, I have no problem with the extras having been presented as surround tracks only. For many years I've wanted to hear this album in stereo and with an LP quality analogue presentation without the significant drawbacks imposed by vinyl. EMI has successfully done this and went so far as to include the original analogue 1972 four channel surround mixes from the ill-fated LP based surround format. While "When A Blind Man Cries" is an excellent track, it isn't a very good fit for the remaining recordings on Machine Head, IMHO. However, it does work as an extra track, presented for the first time in surround for those interested in multi-channel. In the final analysis, this is very close to being a benchmark hard-rock recording for SACD, which should be more readily available than it is in spite of the obvious liscensing and format war issues. If we were allowed "half-measures" I would give the sonics 4 1/2 stars due to that niggling nit-pick over the diminished decay from Ian Paice's drums, but it is balanced by the Hi-Rez clarity, the imaging, depth and fluidity which creates the analogue "feel" of this release.

In short, highly recommended!

Cheers,
AuPh

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Review by LDG February 3, 2004 (1 of 1 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
I agree with most of the former reviews.
For non multi channel listeners I think it's a shame the bonus tracks are not included. As these tracks ARE included on the 1997 anniversary edition CD this could not have been a problem.
If you can play them, the original Quadro mixes are worth the buy of this SACD.
They really sound great. Also the kept clearness of the original tapes is amazing.
Ever since I bought the LP somewhere in the seventies I wondered how the songs sounded in quadro (even "ill faithed"). Now I know and I like it.

Nevertheless I miss the "interesting" 1997 anniversary remixes by Roger Glover. For some songs I prefer these more than the original stereo mixes!

Also the 28 page booklet is identical to the anniversary CD one, with the exception of page 2 where the original introduction by Roger Glover sadly is replaced by a poor photo and of course the tracklisting and copyright stuff on page 27. Furthermore the 1997 booklet is on glossy quality paper.

Still a very good edition, but it really should have been a SACD version of the anniversary edition!

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Review by Toni May 20, 2004 (4 of 4 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
One of the best rock albums ever, original Machine Head contains seven amazing tracks. Now this SACD has original analog Quadro mixes transferred to DSD plus one bonus track and two Glover's remixes from '97. Add to this very stylish and informative booklet, every DP fan (and any other music fan) should do themselves a favor and buy this. Blackmore's solo on "Highway Star" is worth alone listening this classic.
After hearing this album on LP and CD so many times before, I was amazed about the clariness and extra detail found on SACD. Multichannel mix is aggressive, guitars and hammond coming from rear channels from time to time. Nevertheless this suites the album just fine.
Great music and great sonics, most highly recommended.

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Review by veltri December 27, 2004 (5 of 5 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
Rock music can sound amazing on SA-CD. The energy of this performance is showcased better than ever. Previous CD versions I have heard were always missing something and I always came away somewhat disappointed even before SA-CD was part of my life. The SA-CD version is not missing anything. As detailed in the liner notes, the band took great care in choosing the location of their recording sessions in order to have the best acoustics. That attention to detail is rewarded in this reproduction.

I listen mostly to the MCH mix. Bass and vocals are prominent in front. Bass is very full and is used as a lead on many songs. This is a quad mix that doesn't use the center channel but thankfully does use the LFE. Guitars are often only in the rears so larger rears will sound more complete than satellites. On some SA-CD's guitars in the rear speakers distract me because the location seems to be in back of my head, but on this SA-CD each speaker gets a separate instrument so the sound is not in back of you, but coming from each side.

This SA-CD is one of the most enjoyable music experiences I have had.

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Review by mindovermatter March 10, 2005 (1 of 7 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
It sounds soooo much better than the old SQ quad record from the early 70's. I have the DVD-A version, I am sure the SACD sounds almost as good (just kidding, I don't think it makes much difference as long as the mix is good--it is). Very enjoyable surround.

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Review by sacd1 January 7, 2006 (1 of 11 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:    
nice sacd thats it.

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Review by putmess June 4, 2006 (0 of 2 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
Highly recommended, superb sound, great impression, one of my ten top SACD.

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Review by duchski March 1, 2007 (2 of 3 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:    
Sound engineers making multi-channel mixes should be made listening to this album 50 times in a row. And then once more. Yes, this 1972 quadro wonder rocks even thirty-five years later... This is how multichannel, IMHO, should sound: adding another dimension to the mix, taking advantage of an extra acoustic space to fill in and separate 32 studio tracks... Not just an excuse to show off all of your speakers with some superflous effects... Also, folks, for music let's stick to quadro, center channel is for movie dialogue and IMHO that's only what it should be used for...


As for the music itself, well, this is Deep Purple's Machine Head, what else can you say?
If you are a true rock /hard rock fan you already have few copies in your collection. Nevertheless, get this copy: this is how Machine Head was intended to be heard.

BTW. I wonder how many more quadro tapes from the 70's are out there waiting to be released now when the technology is finally here...

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Review by grumpy February 28, 2008 (1 of 10 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
After reading all of the rave reviews on this Deep purple masterpiece I decided to take a chance on it. Sadly I feel this SACD falls flat on its face. The music while superb in content is mastered poorly. It made my system sound as if I was listening to a boom box. The CD layer was even worse. If your considering this one I say stick with vinyl..

Grumpy

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Review by StyleAndEntertainmen August 4, 2008 (1 of 1 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:    
Love it, love it, love it! Fantastic sonics and the album is a timeless classic. I prefer the SACD stereo track on this one as I'm not a fan of aggressive multi-channel mixes. Of special note is the bass which is so rich, clear, and full you won't believe it's from the seventies.

Highly recommended,

Styln

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Review by DragonFly November 30, 2008 (1 of 1 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
Although I am by no means a Deep Purple fan (by any stretch of the imagination), I picked up this release on the basis of its good reviews--and I have to say I was *not* disappointed!

It is easily one of the best-sounding DSD remasters I have in my collection (as good as DSOTM; if not even better.) The dynamics and detail in the quad mix are incredible. I am unsure how much remastering work was involved here, but I kind of doubt that these mixes were anywhere near pristine condition--so much respect to Peter Mew at Abbey Road Studios!

I only wish that more rock albums (quad recordings especially) would get this treatment on SACD. It was truly a delight to listen to.

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Review by analogue February 24, 2009 (3 of 3 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
When sacd first came out many critics said that DSD would never be good at representing rock and roll music.
Really??? You wouldn.t know it from this release.

Classic rock's early 70's masterpiece on sacd with a dsd recording from the original master tapes I believe.

There is excellent warmth, a little tape hiss.....good soundstage..the drums are rich and deep...Blackmores guitar sounds alive and all the songs are just plain awesome. yOU CAN REALLY FEEL THE STUDIO OR THE MOBILE STUDIO ACTUALLY FROM WHENCE THIS WAS RECORDED.

Perhaps the tapes haven't aged as gracefully as some.....but I find no fault with this sacd at all. It's worth every penny. And it can be considerable since it's an import.

My only peeve is that since sacd really does do justice to not only rock and roll but anything put in front of a dsd recooder...........why.......... OH!!!!! WHY ARE THE STUDIO'SD SITTING ON THEIR TREASURE TROVE OF GREAT ROCK MUSIC.

If more classic albums are released with this quality we would be spoiled rotten.

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Review by musicavenger July 14, 2009 (0 of 1 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:    
A really good sounding and mixed SACD. Not to much Rock music deserves to be edited in SACD.

Highly recommended

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