The opening track on 1972's Machine Head lp clocks in at six minutes and five seconds, an album cut that got much exposure on FM radio in the early part of that heavy decade. There are only 41 words to the entire song, lyrics not being Ian Gillan and company's strong suit. Where the Rod Evans fronted band had a more literary slant, The Book Of Taliesyn a decidedly different adult progressive project than this hard onslaught, Deep Purple made a conscious effort to aim themselves at a younger, male audience a la Black Sabbath and away from the world of bands like Yes, where they were heading when they dabbled with The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra a few discs before Machine Head. The song is about driving, and drive it does, long before Keanu Reeves made a job of it in the films Speed and Matrix Reloaded, the theme also played well around the same time for fellow Warner Brothers artists Alice Cooper and their/his double entendre "Under My Wheels". What was really going on here was that the group had finally refined their new formula initiated a couple of years earlier on Deep Purple In Rock. Where that album's opening track, "Speed Kills", was the precursor to this, "Highway Star" has all the elements roaring and in motion. It begins like a runaway train, Gillan's vocals heralding the song of overdrive while the two words from the Deep Purple In Rock opening track find their way into this more polished and refined sequel. They have the groove here that would go on to serve them well, the instruments all charging ahead, Blackmore's guitar and Jon Lord's keyboards, like Ian Gillan's voice, creating sounds to reflect the theme. Not only does it feel like a runaway train, the tune sounds like one, the rhythm section thumping while Blackmore's leads just sizzle.
Condensed and powerful metal that zips through the speakers with a quick intensity. The heavy sound promised by Steppenwolf on "Born To Be Wild" is delivered here, and don't think "Deep Purple" didn't have that tune from Easy Rider in mind when they concocted this.