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Deep Purple - 1971 Fireball

ARTIST: Deep Purple
ALBUM: Fireball
LABEL: Harvest
YEAR: 1971
CD REISSUE: 1989, EMI (UK), CDP 7 46240 2 * 1996, EMI, CDDEEPP 2 (25th Anniversary Edition)


LINEUP: Ian Gillan - vocals * Ritchie Blackmore - guitar * Roger Glover - bass * Ian Paice - drums * Jon Lord - organ, keyboards

TRACK LISTING: 01 Fireball * 02 No No No * 03 Strangve Kind OF Woman * 04 Anyone's Daughter * 05 The Mule * 06 Fools * 07 No One Came

WEBLINKS: www.deeppurple.com

Conspicuous by its absence here among classic Deep Purple's 1970's repertoire, is the sometimes forgotten follow up to the landmark 'In Rock' of a year earlier. When that album finally turned the band into genuine superstars, the pressure was on immediately to produce another album of similar merit. The fact it's taken me this long to review 'Fireball' indicates its merits certainly fell short of its predecessor, the victim of the band's endless touring schedule and trying to cram in studio time simultaneously. The results were uneven to say the least, with the straight ahead pioneering heavy metal largely absent and replaced with some eclectic tracks which hardly sounded like the same band. That's not to say that 'Fireball' is an entire loss, but the excitement and heaviness was lost in transition, resulting in more of a stop-gap album prior to 'Machine Head'. The album was released a year after 'In Rock' which probably seemed like an eternity for fans, when a similar act like Uriah Heep released two albums in the same period.

The Songs
The title track is the closest in style to 'In Rock' and more evidence of Purple's revolutionary approach to metal, racing along frantically in its three minutes, throwing in a Jon Lord organ solo, but curiously no Blackmore solo. 'No, No, No' is seven minutes and takes several tangents, with Blackmore taking center stage, soloing extensively during some more restrained moments, the tone more funk based and perhaps a shade too long. One of the more famous tracks off the album is 'Demons Eye' which doesn't differ dramatically from the previous track, ambling along with some mid-paced riffs and a chorus which displayed Purple's penchant for catchy radio material. A horrendous misjudgment follows with 'Anyone's Daughter' which obviously was intended to be a touch of light humour and fun. The whimsical acoustic background sees Gillan relaying a tale about a local lout getting into trouble with the law after taking liberties with the judges daughter. It would have sufficed more as a B-side rather than an album cut. Taking a largely instrumental route is 'The Mule' which would expand to twice its running time live usually, on vinyl here it's rather spacey and progressive, sounding more like a jam that was recorded. The lengthy 'Fools' takes a myriad of twists in its eight minute running time, alternating between some definite prog inspired sections and more familiar hard rock ground. Blackmore's spacey feedback drone provides an eerie backdrop to a lost classic. The best is saved for last, the hard hitting 'No One Came' displaying some welcome power, rumbling along impressively. The lyrics seem to express some type of dissatisfaction with the music industry and stardom, quite unusual for a band so early into their career, yet seemingly older than their years.

In Summary
Bolstered by the profile of 'In Rock' and the hype, 'Fireball' actually hit number one, which seems amazing even 44 years later. While reviews were mixed it continued to establish them as leaders of the hard rock circuit. It must be said this was and still is light years ahead of most bands trying their luck in 1971, most acts suffering from crude production and an already dated sound. It's still a widely renowned classic and an important part of the Purple legacy, which would be cemented forever with 'Machine Head' just a year later.

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