MOVING GROUND THROTTLE CONTROL AND EVERYTHING

Back in the 90s, Tumbleweed had considerable success with their Aussie brand of heavy stoner rock, notching up several impressive columns of album sales, numerous recycling bins full of empty tinnies and a number of ashtrays overflowing with dead joints. A couple of years back they got together again and released Sounds From The Other Side, picking up more-or-less exactly where they left off over a decade previously. Tumbleweed Songs from the other side Opening song ‘Mandlebrot’ is a festival of driving, full-throttle riffing. It is infectious and makes you want to crack open a beer and reach for your torn and faded Deep Purple t-shirt. ‘Sweet Little Runaway’ sounds a lot like heavied up Doors with a couple of changes of rhythm just to keep things fresh. ‘Like A Nightowl’ boogies along an endless highway; ‘Dirty Little Secret’ is almost Sabbathy. You are probably getting the drift: Tumbleweed evoke all your favourite 70s heavy rock bands, but bring to this metallic history an energy and spirit that makes it somehow fresh even while you’re going ‘Ooh, that sounds like Blue Cheer!’. The single from Sounds From The Other Side was ‘Mountain’. We are in classic Deep Purple territory (sans keyboards of course). It’s rock, its heavy, it’s an avalanche of guitar thundering down upon your head for seven minutes. It’s terrific. The clip isn’t bad either; they are cool dudes. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sa2LhQuRav4&feature=youtu.be Standout songs in the second half include ‘Wildfire’ – a bit more melody but no less riffage – and the wonderfully tacky ‘Queen Of Voodoo’. The back cover portrait doesn’t capture her allure conclusively, though clearly she’s done for the poor old 78rpm DJ. ‘Good And Evil’ evokes Ozzy and Tony or perhaps it’s a nod to Spinal Tap’s ‘Heavy Duty’; who cares, it’s ear-pummelling fun. ‘Bird of Prey’ borrows the riff from ELP’s ‘Knife Edge’ just like ‘Drop In The Ocean’ owes a considerable debt to Bowie’s “Heroes” yet somehow the album manages to musically join the 10s with those metal-forging 70s in a satisfying manner. In a further time-travelling tongue-in-cheek nod – this time to the 60s – album closer ‘ESP’ is the only song with overt psychedelic guitar flourishes, swirling and surging to a satisfying finale. Tumbleweed back cover Overall, there is enough rock solid riff-mongering here to last a long drive through a medium-sized desert, whether in the wilds of the Northern Territory, the Mojave or deepest North Wales. There’s also sufficient variation to maintain interest and make the album worthy of regular return trips. Looking for a post-Tumbleweed spin, I decided I’d spent enough time in the present. Time to rock back a few decades to an era when there was hair to go with the head-banging. Tumbleweed inner gatefold And maybe time to explore a new Vinyl Connection idea. Now & Then – looking at something reasonably recent and choosing something substantially older as a follow-up. Given all the bands evoked by Tumbleweed, I’d expected to effortlessly choose a 70s album and be inspired to produced the second half of the post in no time at all; something from before to compliment the now Sounds From The Other Side. I listened to Deep Purple – Fireball. Excellent, especially the opening title track, but not consistently high enough revs. I gave Black Sabbath – Vol. 4 a spin. Brilliant in a pantomime evil sort of way. But more ominous than energetic. I pulled out Aztecs – More Arse Than Class. Great hearing some heavy Aussie boogie and Thorpie’s great voice, but not the segue I was hoping for. So back to the turntable and Tumbleweed’s ‘Mountain’ again. Then I got it. As the fast revving guitar groove of ‘Highway Star’ burst out of the speakers I yelped with delight and span that volume control even higher. There may even have been some spontaneous frugging on the rug as the familiar riff and Oooh so silly verses shook the windows.

Nobody gonna take my head

I got speed inside my brain

Nobody gonna steal my head

Now that I’m on the road again

Oooh I’m in heaven again I’ve got everything

Like a moving ground throttle control and everything

Deep Purple Machine Head lyric sheet After recovering my composure during ‘Maybe I’m A Leo’, the under-rated ‘Pictures of Home’ (which shares a very similar fast strummed guitar rhythm with the opening song) got me moving again. ‘Never Before’ has both rock and ballad elements; it also has moments when the Beatles ‘Day Tripper’ is momentarily evoked, even though lyrically the Deep Purple song shares more with ‘Help’ in its plea for a rescue from miserableness. Great conclusion to an LP side. But it ain’t over. When you flip the record this is what you get:

Smoke On The Water

Lazy

Space Truckin’

…surely one of the great sides in heavy rock. Deep Purple - Machine Head I’m not going to say much about SOTW; you know the story (it’s in the lyric) and you can play the riff. But here are a couple of factoids from songfacts.com

  • Richie Blackmore on that chord progression – “The riff is done in fourths and fifths — a medieval modal scale,” he explained on MySpace Music. “It makes it appear more dark and foreboding. Not like today’s pop music thirds.”
  • Roger Glover had some doubts about the title: he knew it was great but was reluctant to use it because it sounded like a drug song.

Back in my tweens, ‘Lazy’ was a favourite bluesy piece; Jon Lord’s organ is just so fruity. On listening again, I really dug Blackmore’s opening solo; fast, inventive, with only a nod to the blues. And yet again, a killer riff. Finally we have the soaring roaring ‘Space Truckin’’. Another classic riff with utterly daft lyrics that really just makes you grin with the high-octane energy of it all. No wonder they played the song in concert for so long.

We had a lot of luck on Venus

We always have a ball on Mars

Meeting all the groovy people

We’ve rocked the Milky Way so far

If, like me, you haven’t played Machine Head in decades, break it out and give it a spin. Just adjust your moving ground throttle first. There may be spontaneous frugging. IMG_5024

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Tumbleweed – Sounds From The Other Side [Shock Records, 2013]

Deep Purple – Machine Head [EMI 1972]

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22 comments

  1. Ahh yes! I love Machine Head. But I love Fireball more! I agree that it is not consistent but it`s a special one to me.

    Great review!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I can certainly say ‘Yeah Comrade!’ to the joys of Fireball (other than Anyone’s Daughter, of course). I guess the point I was attempting to make was about the flow of music from Tumbleweed. Do you know them, BTW?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. No I do not!

        I do like Anyone’s daughter. Richie Blackmore referred to it as “a good bit of fun, but a mistake”. I get that.

        I have a few live versions of it from the final 93 tour with Blackmore. I can’t believe they played it live in 93!

        Like

        1. That’s astounding re playing ‘Anyone’s Daughter’ live in ’93.

          Liked by 1 person

        2. I think they dropped the song after 1994. I have bootleg versions of it from the 1994 tour, one with Joe Satriani on guitar (he was very briefly in Deep Purple when Blackmore quit) and one version with Steve Morse.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. I love a good thought-provoking statement – One of the great sides in heavy rock. I don’t dispute this choice – I’m now thinking of what else would be top 5 material!

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    1. Second side of Back In Black? first side of Back in Black? (repeat same lame joke for Paranoid / Vol 4 / Black Sabbath etc etc)

      Liked by 2 people

    2. Go for it Geoff! The top 5 Heavy Rock sides of the 70s. Reckon that might generate a bit of comment!!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Really enjoyed this and I’ve never heard of Tumbleweed at all, which is unusual since they’re very much my brew. I wouldn’t gainsay a single word you’ve written about DP, but In Rock just flies a tiny little bit higher for me.

    Now excuse me, I’m off to search for some Tumbleweed.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Am entirely with you on In Rock, Joe, but it was the energy flow, man – or perhaps the petroleum flow – from the T’weed to Purp that guided the choice on this occasion.

      And can I say, I’m deeply disappointed that you didn’t make some sort of proprietorial comment about the appearance of toys with album accoutrements. I mean, you always have before and this time I had a pre-planned riposte.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Mwah-ha-ha. I am a master tactician. I (very patronisingly) consider it a visual cover version of my blog!

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        1. Now what was the title of that X-Ray Specs single?

          Like

        2. Warrior in Woolworths?

          Like

        3. Yes, that’s the one.

          Liked by 1 person

  4. Re. Tumbleweed video – I have a real fondness for bands playing outdoors with no visible power supply, soloing on cliff edges, rocking out in the forest etc.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Great post – I’m away to join Mr 1537 in the search for Tumbleweed. Gotta love some stoner rock played in a desert (with energy of the surroundings being the power source of course). Reminded me of a ton of band that I have a lot of time for, so can’t see why that one wouldn’t be a winner.

    As for Deep Purple, I only have Fireball and Machine Head is the other that is on my list to check, so I may well bump that up a few notches.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Really glad you chaps liked it. In fact it was you and 1537 praising Fu Manchu that inspired this post!
      As for Deep Purple, Machine Head is a ‘classic’ though I’m with 1537: my favourite is In Rock.

      Like

      1. Can’t beat some stoner rock sounds – them sorta bands always catch my attention!

        … and that’s another Deep Purple album added to the list then!

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  6. This is a great idea. Sometimes one (read: me) finds it hard to pull oneself out of the malaise of daily routine to actually actively go in search of “new” even after enjoying a passive read of praise about it from a well-respected source. Pairing some “new” with some comfortable “old” like this however adds additional potential energy to the effort to get one’s proverbial (literal?) butt up off the couch and exploring. I mean, I know the “old” sparks me, and so if this “new” could potentially spark me in the same way, then… I heartily support more of this VC format!!

    As for Deep Purple, I am generally unable to firmly declare personal greater-thans and less-thans; they all get spun regularly and happily ’round here. What I can say though is that, the one that most touched me in a way that carved deep, nostalgic ripples for whatever reason at a particular time in young-me’s life was Burn. I enjoy them all greatly in the listening moment, but Burn is the one that somehow immediately time-machines me into a non-specific “being elsewhere” feeling of joy.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks a lot for taking the time to reflect on the ‘idea’. Really appreciate it – and even more because you got exactly what the idea was hoping to achieve!

      As for DP, those memories, events or intangibles that link us to a particular album by a favourite artist are no less powerful for sometimes being elusive. I was looking at a copy of Burn at my favourite shop yesterday and was quite tempted. It was the first Coverdale outing, yes? And what a terrific cover!

      Cheers for the response; I’m inspired to try the formula again sometime.

      Like

      1. Yes re Coverdale, and it’s what for me is one of Glenn Hughes’ best vocal outings too. The two of them together and so strong has always been a big draw for me.

        By the way, did you ever get a copy of the Songs in the Key of Life bonus 7″? I still see it sitting here cold and lonely, and now fear it may be soon doomed to years back in dank, dark storage as part of a move related to a coming next overseas assignment. It is sad to think of its possibility to find a loving home being so near and yet so unrealized….. just sayin’.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Well remembered! No, the friend who passed on Songs in the Key of Life didn’t find the 7″. So as you’ve almost made it my moral duty to provide a dry loving home 😉 I’ll get my people to contact your people.

          Like

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