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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.