“Smoke on the Water,” from the previous LP “Machine Head” was issued as a single largely due to Pittsburgh AM radio playing the song to death in late spring 1973. Requests came into the various record stores for the single, but being that there was none, Warners rushed released the single which had a live version from the 1973 LP “Made in Japan” as the flip. Some radio stations opted to play the live version from the new album rather than the “A” side from 1972’s “Machine Head.” Pittsburgh radio stations continued to play the original version.
I remember this well as I had just got my first car in May 1973 and it seemed like the three Top 40 stations played three songs to death that summer. “Hocus Pocus” by Focus, “Frankenstein” by the Edgar Winter Group (a song that also had been released twice), and “Smoke on the Water.” While the newest Top 40 station in the burgh 13Q (WKTQ) was the one to break the single, the other two stations KQV and WIXZ in McKeesport both bowed to public pressure and played the single.
Warner Brothers was in the perfect position to follow up “Smoke on the Water” with another heavy release. The album releases of “Machine Head” and “Made in Japan” charted on Billboard’s Top 200 at #6 and #7 respectively. It was prime time to boost sales of “Who Do You Think We Are” and “Woman from Tokyo” was re-released as a single in August 1973 as WB 7737.
Unusually, with no changes to the length of the single and retaining “Super Trouper” as the flip, Warners issued the single with a new number. In other cases of reissued singles, the numbers usually didn’t change unless a substantive change occurred with the reissue. This is not always the case, as with ATCO’s 1972 re-release of Derek and the Dominos' single “Layla.” Even though the second issue was the full length 7:10 version of the song as opposed to the original 1971 single release of a 2:43 edit, ATCO retained the original issue number.
Be that as it may, “Woman From Tokyo” hit the radio in full force in the fall. Although it originally did not chart in the Top 40, stations that already had played the single in the spring were hesitant to re-add the single and it only peaked at #60 – and hence our “Bubbling Under” hit for this Saturday. The album did much better, but not as well as the other two massive sellers in ’73. “Who Do You Think We Are” peaked at #15.
Interestingly enough, the song title is misspelled on the back of the album cover of the original vinyl release as “WOMAN FROM TOKAYO” – just like Ian Gillian sang it. It even appears this way on the original Japanese release of the album. It is spelled correctly on the label and on the inner sleeve lyric sheet. Later pressings corrected the error.
This is a great tune that shows the guitar prowess of Ritchie Blackmore and the fantastic keyboard skills of Jon Lord. I learned this last week that Jon Lord passed away on July 16. So much was going on in my own life with a series of illnesses and the news that my employer was going to close its doors, that I missed this critical piece of rock ‘n roll news. Lord was a master of the keys.
“Woman From Tokyo” showcases Lord as he cranks up the overdrive of the Hammond B3 organ – sounding like a distorted rhythm guitar in places. In addition, he added wind sounds from a synthesizer during the bridge and shows that he could really pound it out on the piano as well. We’ll miss Lord’s contribution to the music world with Deep Purple, Whitesnake, studio work, and other lesser known bands.
As stated yesterday, I am planning to end this blog on September 26, 2012. Your input could change this decision – fill out the survey and if a requisite number of responses are gathered, I will keep it going. The survey can be found at http://tinyurl.com/8juv863.