Highway Star (song)
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Cover of the 1972 Japan single
|Song by Deep Purple from the album Machine Head|
|Recorded||6–21 December 1971
6:39 (The 1997 Remixes version)
Warner Bros. (US)
|Writer(s)||Ritchie Blackmore, Ian Gillan, Roger Glover, Jon Lord, Ian Paice|
|Machine Head track listing|
"Highway Star" is a song by the English rock band Deep Purple. It is the opening track on their 1972 album Machine Head and is the fastest song in tempo on the album. It is characterised by a long, classically inspired guitar solo and organ solo. Organist Jon Lord claimed that the organ and guitar solos were based on Bach-like chord sequences.
This song was born on a tour bus going to Portsmouth in 1971 when a reporter asked the band how they wrote songs. To demonstrate, guitarist Ritchie Blackmore grabbed an acoustic guitar and began playing a riff consisting of a single "G" repeated over and over, while vocalist Ian Gillan improvised lyrics over the top. The song was refined and was performed that same night. The song first appears on the 1972 LP Machine Head. The track remains one of the band's staples in live concerts, and was the set opener even before it was released on any album.
The very first live version released, recorded live for German TV program Beat-Club in September 1971 is featured on the History, Hits & Highlights '68–'76 DVD. It's the opening track on the live albums Nobody's Perfect (1988), Come Hell or High Water (1994), and From The Setting Sun… (In Waken) (2015). The most famous live version is featured on the 1972 live album Made in Japan. The Guardian said, "Blackmore’s playing is like a force of nature on the [Made in Japan] version; those slashing chords in the intro, and that amazing solo featuring the distinctive neo-classical descending runs, combining the spirits of Bach and Jimi Hendrix."
The structure of the song consists of a 35-second bass/guitar introduction, before the band launches into the thumping opening riff, which soon leads into the first vocals section (0:55). The first two verses are sung, then Jon Lord begins his organ solo (2:14). The organ solo lasts for about a minute, then Ian Gillan sings the third verse of the song (3:24). At the conclusion of the third verse, the guitar solo starts (4:04), and lasts for just under a minute and twenty seconds. Then, the fourth and final verse, which in the original recording is simply a repetition of the first verse, is sung, finishing around 6:10. Depending on the version, there may be a 15-second-long exit section before the end of the song. When the song is played live, Gillan has been known to improvise its lyrics, as seen in the official video for the song.
Appearances in other media
- The song appeared in several TV shows, films and video games including Dazed and Confused, El Lobo, Rock Band, Rock Revolution, Elite Beat Agents, The Stöned Age, That 70's Show, CSI, CSI: NY and Futurama in addition to the weeks ahead promo of Vinyl.
- "Highway Star" placed 5th in Top Gear's Greatest Driving Song of All Time.
- A chiptune version is featured in the battle-racing video game Rock n' Roll Racing.
- A cover version appeared in the music video game Guitar Freaks.
- In the Grand Theft Auto IV expansions Grand Theft Auto IV: The Lost and Damned and The Ballad of Gay Tony, the song appeared in the in–game radio station Liberty Rock Radio.
- The 1997 Remixes version of this song appears in the second episode of 2015 television series Ash vs. Evil Dead.
The song was frequently covered live by alternative metal band Faith No More during the late 1990s, with a live version of the song appearing on their 1998 greatest hits album Who Cares a Lot?. Faith No More's version is significantly shorter than the original.
It was covered by gothic metal band Type O Negative which was included on the 2002 NASCAR compilation album NASCAR: Crank It Up along with the band's 2006 compilation album The Best of Type O Negative.
Highway Star was also covered by Christian metal band, Stryper on their 2011 release The Covering, a collection of twelve cover songs from bands that inspired Stryper and helped to shape the band's sound and musical identity.
In 2012, a tribute album featuring cover songs from Deep Purple's Machine Head was released, titled Re-Machined: A Tribute to Deep Purple's Machine Head. On this album, a live recording of "Highway Star" was featured by rock supergroup Chickenfoot, as well as a version recorded by Glenn Hughes, Steve Vai, and Chad Smith.
- Vinny Cecolini (20 June 2015). Shootin’ the Sh*t — Volume One: Conversations with Rock Anti- Heroes, Icons & Metal Gods. BearManor E. p. 58. GGKEY:WN9DDZBW0R5.
- Martin Popoff (2003). The Top 500 Heavy Metal Songs of All Time. ECW Press. p. 16. ISBN 978-1-55022-530-3.
- Jeremy Wallach; Harris M. Berger; Paul D. Greene (27 December 2011). Metal Rules the Globe: Heavy Metal Music Around the World. Duke University Press. p. 47. ISBN 0-8223-4733-4.
- :::: Roger Glover – the official website
- Roger Glover Interview at stevemorse.com
- Tim Hall (23 July 2015). "Ritchie Blackmore – 10 of the best". The Guardian. Retrieved 29 July 2015.
- deeppurpleos (2010-05-10), Deep Purple - Highway Star-German TV, retrieved 2016-07-06
- "100 Greatest Guitar Solos". guitarworld.com.
- Steve Huey. "Who Cares a Lot: Greatest Hits - Faith No More - Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards - AllMusic". AllMusic.