Smoke on the Water – The Metropolis Sessions [CD/DVD Review]

Review: Natalie Salvo
Title: Smoke on the Water – The Metropolis Sessions
Artists: Various
A devastating earthquake rips through the city leaving tens of thousands dead and hundreds of thousands homeless. No, I’m not writing about any one of the natural disasters to have plagued our planet over the last year or so. Sadly, history has a way of repeating itself and Mother Nature is one cruel bitch.

The year was 1988 and a 6.9 magnitude earthquake tore through Armenia. International charity campaigner, Jon Dee was there working at getting coverage of the devastation and he was so horrified by what he saw (particularly the images of people carrying child size coffins) that he felt compelled to do something and hence, “Smoke On The Water-The Metropolis Sessions” was born. It was to be a reworking of the Deep Purple classic, a song that is almost instilled into our brains at birth and certainly one that any aspiring guitarist worth his weight will work through at some point.

The list of collaborators, i.e. the members of the super group reads like a veritable who’s who of classic and heavy rock. Consider: Dave Gilmour (Pink Floyd), Brian May (Queen), Ian Gillan (Deep Purple), Tony Iommi (Black Sabbath), Bruce Dickinson (Iron Maiden), Paul Rodgers (Free, Bad Company), Ritchie Blackmore (Deep Purple), Chris Squire (Yes), Alex Lifeson (Rush), Keith Emerson (Emerson, Lake & Palmer), Geoff Beauchamp, Roger Taylor (Queen), Geoff Downes (Asia) and Bryan Adams. Perhaps Messer Gillan put it best when he admitted that the project had given him the opportunity to meet his hero (May) and the fact he seemed a little start struck shows it can happen to the best of us!

This single was the second in the initial series and has been re-issued to coincide with the 21st anniversary of the event. It seems that the cause remains a worthy one with signs of the quake lingering even two decades on. It’s sobering to see in the documentary the image of a dilapidated building in Gyurmi that had once served as a children’s music school still beckoning to be fixed as if things had only happened yesterday.

Kerrang would call it the greatest array of hard rock talent ever assembled and the group would go on to have a UK top 40 hit. The 21st anniversary edition of the single includes four cuts of the track: the original 1989 remix; the 1990 radio mix; a 1989 vocal session by Gillan for the TV documentary; and a 2010 Wermut and Dee remix. There is also a bonus DVD that features a 40-minute documentary of the sessions that eventually became the Rock Aid Armenia super group plus the original promo video and a message about where the money raised will ultimately go.

To be expected the renditions boast enough raw power and white heat to power a country. Let’s just say it’ll definitely kick you in the teeth if you try and act all unawares! It’s such a privilege to see these amazing guitarists trading heavy guitar licks like some people do anecdotes and Gillan and Dickinson’s heavy metal vocals bolster this. It’s an epic and furious number indeed, but perhaps the final words should go to Tony Iommi who said, “…a bit loud though, wasn’t it?”

Smoke On the Water - The Metropolis Sessions - EP - Rock Aid ArmeniaSmoke On the Water (feat. David Gilmour, Brian May, Ian Gillan, Tony Iommi, Bruce Dickinson, Paul Rodgers, Ritchie Blackmore, Chris Squire, Alex Lifeson, Keith Emerson, Roger Taylor, Geoff Beauchamp, Geoff Downes, Bryan Adams) – Rock Aid Armenia Allstars

Review by: Natalie Salvo

More article by Natalie Salvo:

* Cloud Control, Seekae and Deep Sea Arcade @ The Metro, Sydney 15 October 2010 – Live Review & Photos
* Amanda Palmer Performs the Popular Hits of Radiohead on Her Magical Ukulele – EP Review
* The Magic Numbers “The Runaway” – [Album Review]
* The Drums “The Drums” – [EP Review]
* All articles by Natalie Salvo…