Roy Harper

Highway Blues

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Song Review by

"Highway Blues," as it originally appeared on Roy Harper's Lifemask album, was an odd mix of old and new elements for the artist. The acoustic instrumentation and off-kilter melody remind of previous efforts, but the heavy effects and almost Tull-like synth flourishes at the song's crescendo are more to do with that group's Thick as a Brick. Ostensibly about Harper's days of hitchhiking through Europe, the lyrics blend surrealism with a humane yearning, only enhanced by Harper's pleasing falsetto. Perhaps the song's most enduring legacy is not the original version, but the versatility the song displayed throughout several subsequent live arrangements. The most brilliant take is a sparse one from a Top Gear show which appeared on The BBC Tapes, Vol. III: 1974. But Harper had winning versions of the song throughout his career, including a harder one with Jimmy Page in the mid-'80s, and nice updates with son Nick in the early to mid-'90s. As straightforward as Harper gets, "Highway Blues" remains one of the artist's most well-known non-hits.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Lifemask 1973 Science Friction 6:34
Introduction to Roy Harper 1976 6:33
Hats Off 2001 The Right Stuff / Capitol 6:32