So of course, there’s a bit of a problem with “Space Truckin'”. The studio version on Machine Head is good, but it feels unfinished, while the version on Made in Japan is far more powerful, but goes on for over 20 minutes.
And I’ve got to be somewhere in 20 minutes!
That said, even if you have warp drive, travel in space takes a very long time, so you need a song with a lot of long guitar and organ solos to accompany you. So the live version it is!!
Also: can there be anything more 1970s than a song called “Space Truckin’?” No. First off, SPACE!!! We’ve already discussed “CTA-102,” & “Space Oddity,” but there was also “Space Race,” “I’ve Seen the Saucers,” “Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft” and eventually “Space Junk” and “Children of The Sun.” So there’s your Space. SPACE!!
And truckin’! Assuming that Ian Gillan wasn’t writing about the vagaries of interstellar commerce and how goods were transported from planet to planet in the vast Galactic Empire in huge “space trucks,” then he was using “truckin'” in the then current slang popularized by the ubiquitous R. Crumb “Keep on Truckin'” posters, which spread through teenagers’ bedrooms like a YouTube video.
Or I guess he could have been trying to one-up The Grateful Dead. Either way, “Space Truckin'” was such a perfect readymade as a song title it didn’t even matter if the lyrics were:
We’ve got music in our solar system
We’re space truckin’ round the stars!
Let’s go space truckin’!
At least not as long as those words are accompanied by another killer riff, a great hook in the chorus, and about 1,534,964 solos, many of which sound like outer space. Oh, and Ian Gillan sings the fuck out of it, to boot.
As David Bowie’s Major Tom was drifting round his tin can, “Space Truckin'” was undoubtedly the song he was hearing.
“Space Truckin'” performed live in USA, 1973