Deep Purple

Highway Star

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Song Review by Joe Viglione

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.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Machine Head 1972 Warner Bros. / WEA 6:07
No Image 1972 Warner Bros.
No Image 1973 Purple Records Ltd. 6:46
Deepest Purple: The Very Best of Deep Purple 1980 Warner Bros. 6:08
Anthology 1985 EMI Music Distribution 6:05
No Image 1985 Harvest 6:08
No Image 1985 EMI Music Distribution
Masters of Metal: Crankin' up 1970-1980 1989
Various Artists
JCI Associated Labels 6:05
Dazed and Confused [Music from the Motion Picture] 1993
Original Soundtrack
The Medicine Label 6:08
No Image 1993 Crystal Cat
No Image 1994 EMI Music Distribution 4:58
No Image 1995 Warner Bros. / Purple 6:05
Crankin' Up 1997
Various Artists
Easyriders, Vol. 1 1997
Various Artists
Thump Records 6:09
Rockin' Down the Highway 1997
Various Artists
K-Tel Distribution 2:58
Harley Davidson Road Songs, Vol. 2 1998
Various Artists
Capitol 6:08
The Very Best of Deep Purple [EMI 2 Disc] 1998 EMI Music Distribution 6:31
The Very Best of Deep Purple [EMI Single Disc] 1998 EMI Music Distribution 6:32
Highway Rockin' 1998
Various Artists
Universal Special Products / Rebound Records 6:10
Shades 1968-1998 1999 Rhino 6:09
No Image 1999 WEA International 6:05
Hard Rock Cafe: Rockin' Down the Highway 1999
Various Artists
Rhino 6:07
Double Shot: Metal 2000
Various Artists
K-Tel Distribution 3:00
The Very Best of Deep Purple [Rhino] 2000 Warner Bros. / Rhino 6:09
No Image 2000
Various Artists
The Right Stuff / Capitol 6:07
Very Best of Deep Purple [WEA International] 2001 WEA International 6:08
Under the Gun 2001 Polygram 6:11
Smoke on the Water: The Best Of 2001 Rhino Flashback 6:06
Behind the Wheel: The Best of Road Rock 2002
Various Artists
Flashback Gold / Rhino 6:07
Twogether Rock 2003
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution 3:43
Winning Combinations 2003 Universal Special Products 6:12
Gold 2003 EMI Music Distribution
Inside Deep Purple 1969-1976: An Independent Critical Review 2003 Classic Rock
Greatest Guitar Anthems 2004
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution 6:07
Heavy Rock Masterpieces 2004
Various Artists
Classic Rock Legends
Purple Rainbows: The Very Best Of Deep Purple, Rainbow, Whitesnake And Gillan 2004
Various Artists
Universal International 6:07
The Anthology [DVD] 2004 Intense
The Platinum Collection 2005 EMI Music Distribution 6:29
Ultimate 16: The Very Best of Classic Rock 2005
Various Artists
Madacy 6:07
Rapture of the Deep 2005 Eagle Records 0:00
Geracao Rock and Roll [DVD] 2005
Various Artists
Rock Milestones: Made in Japan 2006 Classic Rock Legends
The Best of the Beat Club, Vol. 1 [DVD] 2006
Various Artists
Eagle Vision
Rhino Hi-Five: The Gods of Metal 2006
Various Artists
Rhino 6:08
The Greatest Rockin' 70's Hits of All Time 2006
Various Artists
Rhino 6:08
Heavy Metal [Rhino Box Set] 2007
Various Artists
Rhino 6:07
Collections 2008 Sony BMG 6:43
Dad Rocks! 2009
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution 6:06
Essential [2011] 2011 EMI / EMI Gold 6:29
The Complete Albums 1970-1976 2013 Rhino / Warner Bros. / Warner Music 6:51
A Fire in the Sky 2017 Rhino / Warner Bros.
Rhino Hi-Five: Deep Purple Rhino / Warner Bros. 6:09
Smoke on the Water: The Best Of EMI