“Uhhhhhh, like Steve McQueen, Mickey Mouse and everything!” – Ian Gillan, from somewhere inside of his head.
Welcome back, truck drivers! It’s another installment of our popular series “Truck Driver Songs” where we feature blasts from the past that sing the praises of the lifestyle and hard work of truckers everywhere. We’ve been through classics from the 50s and 60s, we’ve listened to some modern ballads from the 80s and 90s. Today, we hit the decade that put trucking on the minds of everyone – the 70s!
In the 70s, the trucks were dirty and heavy, powerful and pointed right down the sites – much like the music of the 70s. Today we give you two examples of the legendary progressive heavy metal band Deep Purple.
From the get go, it was obvious that Deep Purple was going to be different from most of the acts that came before. They were long haired, loud and liked to party all night – that’s about where the similarities to the other British heavy metal invaders stopped. Deep Purple was a band full of unique musicians who liked to experiment and push boundaries whether it was complex arrangements of organ and guitar call and response; guitar solos with almost vocal like qualities that were equal parts blues and classical structures; or just extended jamming that left audiences mesmerized. Deep Purple had it all.
They also loved singing about the open road. “Highway Star” was the opening track on their definitive album “Machine Head” but it was one of two songs on the album dedicated to traveling the lonesome highways. “Space Truckin’ “ being the other smash hit from the now-classic album.
A Quick History of Deep Purple
Formed in February 1968, Deep Purple was the brainchild of ex-Searchers drummer Chris Curtis. An early-to-mid-’60s Merseybeat group whose popularity in Britain once rivaled that of The Beatles, The Searchers had built their success on covers of American hit songs.
The group’s first release as Deep Purple, was the single “Hush.” Written and originally recorded by American country artist Joe South, the song was later covered by Billy Joe Royal as a short, snappy pop/soul number. Royal’s was the only version the group knew, and they extended it into a lengthy rock jam that included a 90-second Hammond organ solo – a touch which, at the time, was unheard-of.
Released in March 1972, Machine Head was the critical and commercial flagship of the band. Not only is it jammed with classic cuts, but it also went to #1 in the U.K. and sold more than two million copies in the U.S., where it spawned another Top 5 hit, “Smoke On The Water.”
It would surely be impossible to come up with a follow-up that could beat Machine Head. And so it proved. Released in the U.S. in December 1972, “Who Do We Think We Are” would be the last studio album for nearly 12 years, thus bringing to an end the golden age of Deep Purple.
So that brings us up to speed, and to two different versions of this very popular truck driving song from the 70s.
In this video, you can hear the original album track from Machine Head: Direct Link
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In this one, you can watch a live performance for a German television show where Ian and the boys seem a tad distracted: Direct Link