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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.