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Deep Purple's Fireball is an album which seems to suffer the fate of being located between two albums which are pretty much perfection and overshadow this very album. Like most cases where this applies, the album that is in the middle is fairly underrated, but still gets high praise from the fans and in this case, it's deserved, as the quality control level here is nearly just as high as 'In Rock'. It isn't quite on the level of that album though, as there is one song that doesn't quite work.
That song would be 'No No No', which goes on for a tiring six minutes and fifty two seconds. While the base ideas are good, they sound like they could've made a great four or five minute song, but instead just meanders about without retaining and focus. This song still has a decent amount of positive aspects, like how the main verses are actually quite catchy and the instrumental breaks can be fairly relaxing. Also, it's still better than most of the songs off of the first two Deep Purple albums, to give you an impression of their standards at this time.
So that leaves everything else, which is great to fantastic. The two main attractions of this album are the title track and 'Fools'. The title track is probably the most speed metal-esque track of the early seventies, but it also doesn't reduce the importance, resulting in a thicker texture than what most speed metal would have. 'Fools' is an epic with a similar style to 'Child In Time', but with less focus on instrumental prowess and more on hard-hitting and memorable verses. 'Anyone's Daughter' is an odd track with a country feel to it, but despite how it is in contrast to the rest of the album, it's an upbeat, quirky song that is thoroughly entertaining.
The production here sounds much cleaner than 'In Rock' did and even if the fuzz gave that album a raw charm, this is definitely an upgrade production-wise. There is simply far more clarity on the louder songs on the album, which makes it an easier listen than the previous album.
Overall, 'Fireball' is a worthy follow-up to 'In Rock', showing an expansion to the hard rock sound that it started. Even if it has a minor flaw, it is still just as essential as 'In Rock' was due to the maturation and ambition this album shows.
In the shadows of the legendary In Rock, Deep Purple begins to try some new and interesting things. Experimenting with folk, country and even going back to their roots of the late '60s to add a touch of progressiveness and psychedelic feel to their music. The classic Mk II lineup is back for another go and seem to be more relaxed and bring a simple and laid back musical approach. Everything is here, including Ian Paice's amazing mixture of blues and jazz drumming, along with Ritchie Blackmore shredding on guitars, Ian Gillan's screams on vocals and Roger Glover and Jon Lord (RIP 2012) providing bass and keys. Together they bring the classic Deep Purple sound but still are able to try new things --try new colors.
Masterful singer, Ian Gillian, returns on vocals for another Mk II classic. Aiming for of his silky smooth mid range vocals rather than extreme highs upper mid vocals. This is a appropriate change of style for the new influences and experimenting on this album. "Fools" shows greatly Gillan's voice and power that he puts into his vocals. "No One Came" takes a new angle by doing more of a 'rhythmic talking' type of thing much like Bob Dylan would do. This works perfectly over the funky groove in the background and makes a terrific track. The title tracks is more of a classic Deep Purple song with some great screams of Gillian and a great display of his range. When it comes to lyrics this album shows a slightly different style of writing. Most of the songs center around death or changing humanity, as seen on tracks like "Fools", "No One Came" and "Demon's eyes". This is a interesting turn for the band to take and are actually written rather nicely. In conclusion, Gillian is great on vocals with his mid range dominate voice. The lyrics fit well with the vocals style and are interesting and catchy to hear.
Drum master Ian Paice is able to show his amazing skills behind the kits well in this new direction. The opening tracks "Fireball" starts with a fantastic drum intro like that of Billy Cobham (Miles Davis and Mahavishnu Orchestra). This tracks also features a double bass like feeling with a constant kick drum throughout the song that feel kind of before its time. "No No No" and "No One Came" also show a great deal of Paice's fantastic mixture of jazz and blues drumming. The drum tone is very much the same from the previous album, which is fine because it seems to be a perfect drum tone for the music they create. Paice is a legendary drummer and though this is probably his weakest drumming of the classic Mk II lineup material, Paice is still able to keep great grooves and catchy rhythms throughout this album.
Ritchie Blackmore is on guitars and decides to take a very minimalist approach on this album. Providing some classic rock riffs like on "No No No" and "Demon's Eyes". These riffs are very blues inspired and are extremely catchy much like the previous album. "Fools" shows a very simple and very heavy chord progression riff which is the epitome of rock riffs. "Anyones Daughter" is a radically different song from the whole Deep Purple discography. Exchanging heavy riffs and jazz drumming for clean and acoustic guitar mixed with country and folk influences. This song is pretty refreshing to hear and is actually a great song once you get past the dramatic differences from the rest of the band's material. This song is very much like early Bob Dylan in the sense of the vocals and guitar arpeggios in the background. "No One Came" is another Bob Dylan like song but mainly because of the vocals. The riff is mainly muted notes but somehow it is extremely catchy and makes a great groove for the organ and drums to jam on. Some solos are on this album and show a more mature and structured style to Blackmore's playing. "No One Came" shows a very well constructed solo that makes you think 'that was Ritchie Blackmore????'. The longer track, "Fools", has a very great and almost ambient middle section solo that is much like Deep Purples Mk I material. "The Mule" also has a great solo with a lot of effects added to it, giving the song a psychedelic feeling. Blackmore is a legend and this album shows a lot of his most mature material and his great rock tone is a great way.
Everyones favorite organ player John Lord returns. Lord is actually kind of overshadowed on most of the tracks, only being dominant in "No One Came". His organ on this track is stellar to say the least. The two chords slamming on the muted riffs makes this song extremely catchy and funky. In most of the tracks Lord usually plays a distorted organ to emphasis to Blackmore's guitar which he does a great job at. Lord does show his skills a bit in "Fireball", "No No No" and "Demon's Eye" mostly in the form of a solo or two. The other tracks Lord seems to just play a few simple chord in the background to give the songs a great atmosphere and feeling. He does do a great job with that and when you really think about it he isn't really absent at all on this album, but instead he is applying his playing in a new way. Other than organ playing Lord does a neat piano part on the country inspired "Anyones Daughter" that is rather nice. Lord is a great organ player and though his playing is less up front than usual, he does set a great mood throughout this album.
This is the part where I talk about Roger Glover and his bass playing but I'm pretty sure he didn't even record on this album at all. The only audible bass is on "Anyones Daughter" which is actually pretty good, but aside from that where is Mr. Glover? Bass was never a big part of Deep Purples music so this doesn't really bother me that much but i mean come on, at least give me something! Instead if you want to actually hear some of Glover playing I recommend you hear Perfect Strangers.
In the end Fireball is one of Deep Purples most experimental and brave albums. Combining psychedelic, country, and folk influences into their music, Deep Purple makes another classic album that is usually overlook by In Rock and Machine Head. Which is a shame, because Blackmore's riffs, Gillan's voice, and Paices drumming are fantastic in this new direction. This album should be checked out by any Deep Purple fan looking for a new shade of Deep Purple.
Any creation between two masterpieces like 'In Rock' and 'Machine Head' will be shadowed instantly, without doing an analysis of it's real impact (in terms of music, obviously).
Happens that 'Fireball" is not totally underrated but yet it has not the real place it should have when we tell the history of metal genre. And actually, is in this album when DP creates what would become later his most everlasting legacy: the invention of speed and power metal (with the classic metal sound) first lighted in the previous release and confirmed with the one that comes next.
The stormy drumming by the always underrated Ian Paice introduces us into a magnificent example of the evolution in metal. The opening track of the album, "Fireball", is speed/power metal in pure essence. Blackmore's insane riffing with the frenzy singing by Gillan are enough to explain it. Every monster riff in the history of metal was previously created or drafted by Ritchie Blackmore or Tony Iommi. So be it. What comes next is a copy.
Maybe the finest filler in Deep Purple's history is "No No No". Raw and punchy, is a hard rocking bastard who takes it all away. Gillan is the star here, but the whole band do what it takes to make this song great. Roger Glover deserves a special credit for the nice bass line in this track.
Another shadowed masterpiece, which would later became a prototype in some heavy bluesy songs by Purple is "Demon's Eye". Blackmore's riff, once again, breakes it. The virtuoso exchange of the guitar sorcerer and Maestro Jon Lord foretells what would later be the stage staple "Lazy" or even the MK III wonder "Mistreated" (with a slower beat, of course). To me, one of the greatest songs by DP.
The major flaw in this record, "Anyone's Daughter", has no salvation. If legendary bands can make mistakes, this was one, no doubt about it. Nonetheless, the lyrics are amusing, somehow.
If you have heard before about a live album named 'Made in Japan' (really, I mean, you DO HAVE that live album, metalhead, do you?), you know this black jewel entitled "The Mule". Yes, believe it or not, it is from this record, 'Fireball'. Heavy Metal virtuosity meets light here. Every single member of DP shows us what's about doing a metal performance. Forget about eternally overrated pop-rock band known as Led Zeppelin. Deep Purple is far beyond their reach and thanks to songs like "The Mule" they can prove it. Ian Paice's soloing (with Blackmore-Glover-Lord solid lines to support it) are gorgeous, brilliant, superb. Pure purple magic.
After this, everything would sound hollow and tiny. But the fillers which are coming next, 'Fools' and 'No One Came' are very good enough to keep the things rolling. Straightforward and honest rock, with some progressive licks, probably by Maestro Lord. Because of this, these pieces have a fresh and unique air. Nothing else to be said here.
And of course, we can't forget the hit single of this record, which reached the Top positions in UK and many countries in Europe and helped to re-establish DP reputation in the US: 'Strange Kind of Woman' (this song can be found in the Anniversary Edition, with some other nice oddities). A stage staple by own merits, the track always reminds us the great times when DP and BS started to rule the heavy metal world, even with its pop-ish sound. The life performances of this song, with a huge universe of improvisations (and some ironic battles by Blackmore and Gillan) are always a blessing.
This huge masterpiece is straight between the eyes for you to rediscover and love it the way it deserves. Be not affraid and embrace the Fireball, you won't regret it.
Fireball simply isn't as good as In Rock - the majority of the band admit this is the case, fan consensus is likewise. That said, there's plenty of saving graces to the album. The second half is actually, by my reckoning, a bit stronger than the first half, featuring as it does powerful numbers like The Mule, Fools, and No One Came.
It's on the first side that most of the problems lie. No No No and Demon's Eye rely on slow, plodding rhythms that, to my ears at least, lack verve and energy, rendering the songs in question dull and repetitive. The instrumental soloing this time around is generally weaker and more forgettable than, for example, the incredible guitar solos on Speed King or Child In Time on the last album.
And then there's the elephant in the room, Farmer's Daughter, which even Ian Gillian admits was a mistake to release as part of the album. Coming right in the middle, this is a weak and unimaginative folk-rock number that comes across as a novelty song, sabotaging any momentum the album had built up to that point. The disc is pretty much saved by the last few tracks clawing things back, but it's still a blot on the running order which would be better off removed from the album entirely.
I was amazed to see that this fine album only had one review...one! Here's the thing: if you like Deep Purple, and you've never heard this album, you need to get it now. Really, right now. Put away the famous Machine Head; it will still be waiting for you when you're done. Okay, have you listened to it? Wasn't that well worth it?
It is sad that so many people who enjoy heavy metal (or any hard rock, for that matter) judge Deep Purple by one song. And we all know what that song is. We've all learned to play it on the guitar. Forget that song, though. Fireball shows many more sides of Deep Purple, and demonstrates more completely how this band has managed to survive over so many years and so many lineup changes. From the opening air-conditioner sound of "Fireball," to the last notes of "No One Came," this album shows what these heavy metal pioneers could do when they were on their game, before the egos began to run amok. Sure, In Rock may be a more crucial album for the beginning of the heavy metal sound, but Fireball is certainly more diverse.
For one thing, Gillan has rarely sounded better than he does on this album. The aforementioned "Fireball" is a tour de force of classic hard rock singing. But his voice is capable of great subtlety as well, and you get to hear this (and the famous Ian Gillan sense of humor) on the admittedly non-metal track "Anyone's Daughter." A tale of a young lad's sexual escapades in a small town, "Anyone's Daughter" will crack you up, if you listen to the lyrics.
Jon Lord and Ritchie Blackmore are absolute equals on this record, and the organ and guitar trade licks back and forth, and demonstrate how well-deserved the reputations of these two musicians are. (Fireball was clearly recorded before Blackmore's ego got so incredibly out of control, as it later would.) Meanwhile, the powerful, solid bass playing of Roger Glover and the tight drumming of Ian Paice are a solid foundation upon which the other musicians rest. The title track "Fireball" is perhaps the best example of how all five musicians combined to create what would later become the sound we know today as heavy metal. Gillan's screaming vocals, the driving rhythms, the guitar riffs--"Fireball" was obviously the inspiration for later metal bands (I've heard Lars Ulrich cite the album as one of his favorites in several interviews).
So yes, In Rock may have been more seminal, and Machine Head may have been more famous, but Fireball is Deep Purple at their classic best. Give it a listen. You will be happy you did.
Yes indeed, not many people think this is essential DP but dammit all, I LOVE it! After all this contains the first ever speed metal song. And you though "Highway Star" was the first, shame on you! Besides that song there is of course "Strange Kind of Woman," "Demon's Eye," the trippy "No No No" and "The Mule." That's as classic as they come, at least to me they are!
Alright, let's start with the first speed metal song ever, "Fireball!" Why this and not "Highway Star?" Well for starters it's faster and it's got a really nice riff. Also it has Ian Paice on DOUBLE BASS! It doesn't get more speed metal than that! Gillan's singing here is magnificent, not to mention Glover's bass solo. About the only thing this song lacks is a guitar solo, that is present and accounted for in the instrumental version. I actually prefer the instrumental version more than the album version because it sounds better and it doesn't fade out.
So after this masterwork, they decide they can't beat it and play different styles. You know what? It works! Sure, "No No No" or "Strange Kind of Woman" aren't exactly metal numbers, but for DP this actually works. They hearken back to the old trippy, psychedelic MK I songs that most people seem keen to sweep under the rug. There IS a reason why that line-up was successful in America (let's forget about the disgraceful incident in the 80s with Evans, shall we?).
Productionwise, this album is slightly more polished than In Rock. Now that could either be a curse or a blessing depending on your point of view, but I like it. The drums are just right, not too loud, not too soft. The guitar tone rules for '71, and Ritchie's playing is top-notch, as always. Gillan's voice doesn't sound to distorted here and he seems to be more comfortable with singing. Glover's bass is also very clear, a trait most metal bands don't have. Jon Lord's organs are slightly buried, but when it's solo time he comes shining through.
So, should you get it? Why, yes! Be sure to get the 25th anniversary release, its got lots of bonus tracks and really detailed liner notes.