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One of Deep Purple's Finest Moments - 95%

caspianrex, October 14th, 2009

I was amazed to see that this fine album only had 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.