Review Summary: More diverse, and just as excellent as In Rock.Deep Purple: A Retrospective
Episode V: Fireball
A year after their landmark hard rock album In Rock
, Deep Purple went on to release its follow-up Fireball
with the same now-famous Mark II line-up. Although the basis of the album is still the same riff-driven hard rock, Deep Purple takes a step back while mixing their acquired style with new elements, among which blues, boogie and even country influences. Fireball is also not as heavy as its predecessor, featuring a far greater amount of more laid-back songs. Like almost any album released by Mark II Deep Purple, it is regarded as a classic in the band’s catalogue by fans and critics, though as far as the band themselves are concerned, only Ian Gillan regards it as highly.
Deep Purple Mk. II was:
- Ian Gillan ~ Vocals
- Richard Hugh Blackmore ~ Lead Guitar
- Roger David Glover ~ Bass Guitar
- Jon Douglas Lord ~ Keyboards/Organ
- Ian Anderson Pace ~ Drums
The opener title track is about as close as we get to In Rock. An energetic opening drum performance by Pace precedes what is the fastest song on the album, after its intro driven heavily by Gillan’s catchy vocal performance. He does not make use of falsetto as much as on In Rock either, but his powerful, convincing vocal delivery throughout the entire album and unique voice make more than up for it. The vocals are one of the strongest points on Fireball
, and as such it is no surprise why only Gillan views the album as a classic. The only track where he falls away for a great deal is the largely instrumental The Mule
, a relatively well-known cut (partially because of the fact it was used as an opportunity by Pace to show off his drumming skills on stage), and the only one of this album to make it to Made in Japan.
is a real oddity, and doesn’t quite sound like anything else Deep Purple ever did before or after. Apparently Ritchie Blackmore had been toying around with a country riff, which kept floating around in his head. When he showed it to the rest of the boys, Gillan came up with some fitting lyrics, and Deep Purple’s strangest track was born. It is great fun hearing it one or two times, but the appeal quickly disappears, and Anyone’s Daughter becomes a skipper. Another lower point on the album is No No No
, which is unfortunately plagued by slightly annoying lyrics and being too repetitive. It could have well been cut some shorter from the more than 6 minutes it became.
The minor boogie elements found in the album come best to their right in closer No One Came
and especially Demon’s Eye
, each driven by a groovy instrumental section complemented with fitting vocals, making for two excellent outputs. The album’s absolute high however, is the 8:11 epic Fools
. It switches psychedelic jam sessions in the beginning and middle with sudden loud parts, where Gillan puts down his best (and rustiest) performance on the entire album by far, coming up with some of the cleverest and catchiest lines he’s ever written. Fools
is an often overlooked gem next to famous Deep Purple classics such as Highway Star
and Smoke on the Water
, but is one of their finest achievements. What’s more, it works also perfectly in the context of this album.
Perhaps not as well known to the bigger audience as In Rock
or Machine Head
due to lack of another Child in Time
or Smoke on the Water
is another excellent achievement by Mark II. Mixing new elements with the hard rock style they discovered on their previous record, Deep Purple creates great fresh material on a mostly consistent, but also orginal record that is just a tiny step back in overall quality.