How do you improve on a classic?

Before continuing with this post, I have to say that I find myself in the odd position of having to apologise for someone else's cock-up.

The reason why this is the first article since Friday, and the reason why my usual Friday T&A segment is missing (which, believe me, sucks just as much for me as it does for you), is because my ISP managed to completely screw up a routine network switch upgrade- to the point where, when they booted up the revamped switch, their entire network dropped straight into a yawning abyss.

They'd initially told us that they would be taking down their network for 30 minutes or so at about zero-dark-thirty on Friday morning. Come 7am, they still hadn't gotten it back up because of some issues with the new network switch. Whatever they did, they CRASHED their network but good.

And it has stayed crashed for going on four days running.

And they STILL don't know when service will be back up.

I have come across some pretty impressive demonstrations of incompetence in my time- the most recent of which was that absolutely delightful howler concerning the Best Picture Oscar at this year's Academy Awards ceremony. You kind of expect FUBARd situations like this from the US government- anyone who has ever had to visit their local DMV knows what I'm on about. Cock-Ups 'R Us is who and what they are.

But something like that from a private-sector firm with paying customers? Not so much.

So, on behalf of the !@#$%^&*s who screwed up my weekend and are in the process of doing much the same to the rest of my week: "oops".

Anyway, it turns out that everyone's favourite crazy metalhead has just uploaded his take on the DEEP PURPLE classic, "Highway Star":

As with all cover versions of great songs, the critical question is: does this improve on the original?

Ummm... no. It doesn't.

Because it CAN'T. The original song was written the way most truly great and memorable rock songs are- in about five minutes, in the back of a touring van, as Ritche Blackmore noodled around on his guitar and Ian Gillan came up with some impromptu goofy lyrics for what turned out to be the metalhead's driving anthem.

After all, this is what the original song sounded like:

And this is what they sounded like when playing that monster of a track live:

And THIS is what they sound like these days, when playing that same song with a drummer who is 40 years older and the greatest guitarist of all time (yes, I do call him that), STEVE MORSE:

(In case you're wondering why I call him the greatest guitarist ever...)

Yeah, Iain Paice's drumming is nowhere near what it once was. And yeah, Don Airey, as great and brilliant as he is, is no Jon Lord*.

Leo's version is very good, don't get me wrong. If you HAVE to take on the quite daunting task of turning one of the greatest rock songs of all time in to a heavy metal shred-fest, Leo's version is an excellent way to go about things.

But somehow it just lacks much of that... X-factor that made the original song an instant classic.

*DEEP PURPLE holds a special place in my heart. They were the very first true "rock" band that I ever listened to- my dad introduced me to them when I was about 14, and I was instantly hooked. They were the very first band that I ever saw live, too- at Fort Canning Park in Singapore, in 2002. And I have an especially fond memory of seeing them playing live at Wembley back in... I think it must have been around 2006, when Jon Lord himself joined them on stage for one of their encores. You just don't get much more epic than that.


  1. Damned rare is the track that exceeds the original (Bad Company, by FFDP is one). Almost as rare, the cover that is as good, or comes really close.

    Leo has a good ear for what "works" for him in terms of covers, and is to be commended for adapting it to his style very well. That said, his metal to metal covers are some of his weakest for me (Only Europe can do "Final Countdown.").


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