Recommended by an avid reader of Glory Daze, Highway Robbery comes highly regarded as an early 70’s US hard rock band, who recorded this lone ear-shattering set and promptly split.
Written by: Dangerzone
ARTIST: Highway Robbery
ALBUM: For Love Or Money
CD REISSUE: Discogs Reissue List
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: USA
LINEUP: Don Francisco – drums, vocals * Michael Stevens – guitars * John Livingston Tunison – bass, vocals
TRACK LISTING: 01 Mystery Rider * 02 Fifteen * 03 All I Need (To Have Is You) * 04 Lazy Woman * 05 Bells * 06 Ain’t Gonna Take No More * 07 I’ll Do It Again * 08 Promotion Man
Recommended by an avid reader of Glory Daze is this highly regarded early 70’s US hard rock band Highway Robbery, who recorded this lone ear-shattering set and promptly split. They were more accessible than the likes of Bang, Blue Cheer or Dust.
More importantly, heavier, Highway Robbery could have gone on to greater things as judged by the undoubted power of this LP, which at moments contains enough power to even surpass the Purple’s and Zeppelin’s.
The band was formed by ex Boston Tea Party member Stevens, who assembled a classic power trio, which included ex Atlee drummer Don Francisco, whose previous band recorded a fine album themselves, 1970’s ‘Flying A Head’.
RCA picked the band up, and upon the albums failure promptly dumped them! An unwise decision, but rather typical. From what I’ve read the band recorded at such a high volume the engineer was forced to flee the studio. Based on the results I am inclined to believe this was not an exaggeration!
Feted by the influential Encyclopedia Of Hard Rock And Heavy Metal, the albums appearance in Derek Oliver’s list of obscure rock classics perhaps added to the albums reputation. Fully deserving of the accolades thrown its way, the album skillfully maneuvers its way through a combination of Zeppelin meets Who then Purple, while still sounding undeniably American.
‘Mystery Rider’ pounds away with some chugging riffs and epic vocal harmonies, a fine introduction to the bands modus operandi. All hell ensues with ‘Fifteen’, featuring one of the more abrasive guitar sounds heard in the early 70’s, and when the band reaches a roaring crescendo that fades prematurely you’ll be left wondering why you’ve never heard this.
Some have said the album wasn’t commercial, but that isn’t true of the near ballad ‘All I Need (To Have Is You)’ which nears bands like Poco, Crosby Stills And Nash (who producer Bill Halverson had worked with) or America.
‘Lazy Woman’ is nothing of the sort and the mayhem at the two minute point lays all the contenders to waste, it’s that effective, almost like The Who live in the studio. Another melodic ballad is ‘Bells’, which again could have been radio material, at total odds with the Led Zeppelin styled blues of ‘Aint Gonna Take It’.
‘I’ll Do It All Again’ has The Who dabbed all over it, especially ‘Naked Eye’, as it swings back and forth from soft to hard, the guitar work of Stevens (who wrote all eight tracks) a psychedelic and metal haze.
Impressive ender ‘Promotion Man’ has Tunsion embarking on a vocal rant similar to Ian Gillan‘s on ‘No One Came’, cynical in tone and backed up by nothing less than a background explosion. One such outbreak at the three minute mark borders on sensory overload, and honestly makes the established acts of 1972 appear nothing more than practicing garage bands.
‘All I Need (To Have Is You)’ was released as a single but went nowhere as RCA decided the music was too heavy and had no longevity or sales credibility. If this was so why were hard rock acts selling millions of albums in 1972?
The band went their separate ways and truthfully the slower tracks of the album are at odds with their more rambunctious offspring, which from what I gather were designed solely for radio, which as stated – bombed. But the unrestrained and raucous approach given to the music is what makes it among the best of its kind.
With hard rock still at the stage where improvisation and creativity was rife and recorded as such, Highway Robbery made a ragged statement that lives on decades later to the point where their contemporaries seem irrelevant, and by that I mean Grand Funk or MC5 who never captured such improbable torrents of pure noise. Available on CD, make it a point to obtain.