I'm lucky with Sabbath, Deep Purple, Zeppelin, etc. in that I didn't grow up in the 70's and have their hit songs shoved down my throat....and I never listen to the radio. I just buy the CD's, so I've probably heard "Smoke On The Water" just as much as any non-famous album track. I've had several people who grew up in the 70's tell me the song they are most sick of is "Smoke On The Water," so it must've been way overplayed!
All this said, Purple were/are an excellent band. Great songs and great musicianship all around. One of the great thrills in rock music is hearing Ritchie Blackmore and Jon Lord trading off solos on the guitar and Hammond organ.
Ah, lucky you... in the 70's, your choices when driving were either cassettes or eight-track tapes, if you didn't want to listen to the radio. I used to take a lot of long road trips when I first owned a car, and I installed a TEAC cassette deck with Jensen speakers, which was the best car system available at the time. Eight-track tape bit the big one, and it was on the way out even then. Not only were the tapes bulky (about the size of an average paperback book), but they would often change tracks right in the middle of a song! Even when I was 18, I knew better than to buy an eight-track player.
The radio was
pretty bad then, too... My first girlfriend's father owned an ice cream plant here in the Bay Area, and she and I used to drive to remote places like Coalinga and San Juan Bautista in her father's '76 Chrysler New Yorker (with its massive trunk packed full of dry ice and cardboard cartons), to deliver specialty ice cream like spumoni to various restaurants. These were like, four-hour drives, each way.
Unfortunately for me, Debbie's musical taste ran to things like Three Dog Night, Jackson Browne, Elton John, and the Doobie Brothers, so she'd always put on the stations that played that stuff— along with "Smoke On The Water," umpteen million times.
Every now and then, she'd let me tune to the one jazz station in the area (KJAZ, which folded a long time ago), but the lyrics to "Smoke On the Water," "Joy To The World," "Rocket Man," and "China Grove" are forever imprinted in some remote, reptilian part of my brain. If she hadn't been such a hot little California blonde cheerleader-type babe, I'd never have forgiven her!
BTW, Rob, if you've never heard Led Zep's "BBC Tapes," (available on CD) they're a lot more spontaneous than their regular studio work, and Jimmy Page in his prime was one of the greatest guitarists ever,
Or maybe, No Quarter...!