"Re-Machined: A Tribute to Deep Purple's Machine Head" (Eagle Rock; 2012)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

Regular readers of Rough Edge and listeners of Rough Edge Radio probably already know that Deep Purple's "Machine Head," from 1972, is my favorite rock'n'roll album of all time. To this day. So when I heard there was a tribute to the album (rather than the group, which is typically the case), I was understandably excited. And then came the list of artists to be involved: Carlos Santana, Jacoby Shaddix, Chickenfoot, Black Label Society, Steve Stevens, Duff McKagan, Matt Sorum, Jimmy Barnes, Joe Bonamassa, Iron Maiden, Metallica, Steve Vai, Lahlan Doley, Chad Smith, Glenn Hughes (a Deep Purple alumni himself) and The Flaming Lips.

Wait ... The Flaming Lips? Well, more on that later.

It seemed like it couldn't possibly fail. It's a daunting task paying tribute to a mighty album such as "Machine Head," but with a talent line-up like that, I had very high hopes indeed. And, thankfully, those hopes were well-founded. "Re-Machined" is one of the best tribute albums I've heard in a long time.

Although it doesn't start out way, the track-listing here, for the most part, is virtually the same as the 1972 classic. Since there are two versions of "Smoke on the Water" on this tribute, that song starts off the CD, with the version by Carlos Santana and Jacoby Shaddix of Papa Roach. As you might imagine, the guitar is the highlight on this track and it's a slick, well-done cover. With one glaring exception, in fact, all of the tracks on this tribute are incredibly well-performed, with terrific musicianship and just the right amount of respect for the source material. I can't imagine anybody who likes the original "Machine Head" album being disappointed with anything here ...

... Well, anything, perhaps, except the "Smoke on the Water" cover by The Flaming Lips. Imagine that classic track as though it were performed by the bastard child of Soft Cell and Devo. Yeah, it's weird. And it brings the rock'n'roll momentum to a startling halt right smack dab in the middle of "Re-Machined." It isn't a bad track, it's just wildly out of place. "Re-Machined" would have been better off with the Santana version as the sixth track of the CD and the Flaming Lips version as a bonus track, or an end of album closer. (In fact, I think I'm going to re-sequence it that way for future listening sessions).

Of course, some tracks are better than others. "Highway Star," by Chickenfoot, kicks some serious ass, but I think I would have been happier if it had been a studio track rather than a live one. And Iron Maiden's cover of "Space Truckin'" lacks any real heat. That may be because the band recorded it back in 2006 as a B-side for their "A Matter of Life and Death" album. As a B-side, it's just fine, but it's a little less full of life compared to the other tracks on "Re-Machined."

The highlights here for me are "Lazy," with Jimmy Barnes and Joe Bonamassa (coming in at almost nine minutes), Metallica's slow-burn on "When a Blind Man Cries," and the last bonus track, "Highway Star," a big, ballsy cover featuring former Deep Purple vocalist Glenn Hughes, Steve Vai, Chad Smith and Lachlan Doley.

The bottom line here is that, if you've a fan of Deep Purple's "Machine Head," you'll probably find a lot of like on this CD. I know I did. It's obvious that the musicians involved are fans of the legendary album as well and that admiration and respect ... as well as their individual personalities and talents ... shine through.

1. Smoke On The Water Carlos Santana & Jacoby Shaddix
2. Highway Star Chickenfoot
3. Maybe I'm A Leo Glenn Hughes & Chad Smith
4. Pictures Of Home Black Label Society
5. Never Before Kings Of Chaos (Joe Elliott, Steve Stevens, Duff McKagan, Matt Sorum)
6. Smoke On The Water Flaming Lips
7. Lazy Jimmy Barnes with Joe Bonamassa
8. Space Truckin Iron Maiden
9. When A Blind Man Cries - Metallica
10. Highway Star - Glenn Hughes, Steve Vai, Chad Smith, Lachlan Doley

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Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

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Copyright 2012 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
Revised: 12 Feb 2018 21:33:06 -0500.