Thursday, November 12, 2015

Charades of Deep Purple: Highway Star

“Machine Head,” the album that launched Deep Purple into being the major influence on metal music, was released during the spring of 1972 and it changed rock history. When you dropped the needle on the vinyl, the first tune that emanated from your speakers was “Highway Star.” This up-tempo rocker was written as a fluke when a reporter asked Ritchie Blackmore how the band composed its material.

Blackmore picked up his acoustic guitar and began noodling some Bach inspired runs and vocalist Ian Gillan began singing – improvising the lyrics on the spot. Deep Purple worked on the tune and played it for the very first time that evening at a gig in Portsmouth, England. The rest is history.

Today’s “Charades of Deep Purple” cut includes former Purple member Glenn Hughes on lead vocals and bass, Steve Vai shining on guitar, and Chad Smith pounding the drums. While Hughes had performed the tune live with Deep Purple, his tenure with the band began 15 months after the release of “Machine Head.”

This version of “Highway Star” was a bonus track on the 40th anniversary tribute to “Machine Head” called “Re-Machined: A Tribute to Deep Purple's Machine Head.” A live version of “Highway Star” by Chickenfoot appeared as one of the CD’s regular tracks.

Although not credited as one of the main players on the cut, I would be remiss not to mention the keyboardist who channeled the late Jon Lord, who died a few months before this album was released in September 2012. Lachy Doley overdubbed the organ parts and played his Hammond M-3 organ through a Marshall amp much like Lord did with his Hammond C-3. It’s too bad he didn’t get full credit on this cut as the organ is part of the glue that holds it together.

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