Scrawling electrical guitar riffs, smouldering vocals, huge sold-out shows and busy tours seem to be the hallmarks of any big heavy metal music band. Deep Purple’s Machine Head became the legendary Deep Purple’s top band and stayed in the top 40 for 20 weeks with all these things. It’s more than just an album, it’s a benchmark and a very influential one.

Really sitting down and listening down to Smoke On The Water while hearing some of these riffs smashed out of the system puts a HiFi system and its listeners to a proper workout. Eschewing more complex arrangements, the simplicity of riffs absolutely draw you in.

We needed to test it out with our regulars. Being as popular as it is, everyone has a copy of the album, picked up from stores around the world. It’s time to get down the brass tacks to see which recording had better sound.

Which bring us to the question, “do different pressings make a difference?” With different moulds used with a press, the moulds break down and wear out over time. Different countries also mean separate moulds are used. There’s lots more that happens to the vinyl as it gets pressed, but we’ll talk about that in another article.

Here are the highest-ranked recordings in no particular order. We tested Side 2 Track 1, which was “Smoke On The Water” of course!

A) Light brown WB copy. Slightly less weight compared to the next older version.


B) Forest Label. We thought this was the best Japanese version until we found the next version recently.

C) Almost as good as the first British pressing.

D) Malaysian pressing bought when music first released. Already has a great sound.

E) British with word EMI RECORDS on top of Purple. Great sound. Rivals the better Japanese pressings.

F) Look for the GRAMOPHONE CO LTD Near Purple. Best sound for all version by a  very small margin.

G) This was a surprise. The reissue sounded great and compared favourably with the best.