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Deep Purple - Fireball CD (album) cover

FIREBALL

Deep Purple

 

Proto-Prog

3.79 | 853 ratings

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TCat
Special Collaborator
Eclectic / Prog Metal / Heavy Prog Team
4 stars This review takes the 25th Anniversary Expanded Edition (nine additional tracks) into consideration as to whether it adds to or takes away from the original album.

"Fireball" is the sort of disappointing middle child of the power trio of DP MKII albums. However, even so, it still has some great moments, but loses a bit of steam being place in between two huge DP albums "In Rock" and "Machine Head". The record company pushed the band into rushing the album and the band pretty much felt like they didn't get to develop the album quite as well. One thing for certain, the band had found its sound by now (1971) and was feeling pretty confident about it. They might have been a little too confident on this album, but it works for them a few times (like on the mystical/oriental flavor of "The Mule", and the more straight ahead blues-rockers "No, No, No" and "Demon's Eye"), but there are times when it seems they are looking for something a little different and not quite nailing it down ("Anyone's Daughter" and "Fools"). In the end, the album comes across feeling a bit mediocre, lacking the fire of the albums that came before and after it. Somehow, the excitement isn't quite there. But most of you have already heard or read the reviews about the original version of the album. Does the expanded edition make it any better?

The 25th anniversary edition expands the album by 9 tracks. The original release in the US substituted "Strange Kind of Woman" for "Demon's Eye" both of which are highlights on either version. This re-issue brings them both together with the first bonus track being "Strange Kind of Woman" (originally titled "Prostitute") which was released only as a single in the UK. This is followed by the non-album b-side from that UK single "I'm Alone" (fast moving rocker similar to "Fireball"), and then two non-album outtakes "Freedom" (nice boogie-inspired riff, honky-tonk style piano solo and Ian finally gets to let loose on the vocals during the 3rd verse) and "Slow Train" (a more original sounding track but one that holds it's own quite well and would have substituted nicely for one of the weaker tracks on the original album) . These 3 tracks alone would make any DP fan drool with delight. The expanded section of this edition already elevates the overall sound of the album from 3.5 to 4 stars. Will the other tracks maintain that status?

The rest of the bonus tracks are more curiosities than anything else. Next is the familiar sound of "Demon's Eye" but in a remixed version done in 1996. The sound seems a bit more pristine and cleaned up, but it doesn't detract from the original at all, and since it's one of the album's better tracks, it's reappearance is quite welcome. A "sort of" medley follows under the name "The Noise Abatement Society Tapes" which takes themes from "Midnight in Moscow" (a Russian march tune), "Robin Hood" and "William Tell" and melds them together in a instrumental "practice" session. Mostly just the band goofing around. There is an alternate, instrumental take on "Fireball (Take 1)", something that I could take or leave, nothing special. "Backwards Piano" is a short snippet from the piano solo at the end of "No One Came" played in reverse. It all ends with another 1996 remix, this time of "No One Came".

So, the good news is that the expanded edition does actually add to the overall album because of the first four bonus tracks and the two remixes are nice. For me, it makes the album that much better and is worth it even if only for the outtakes, which are stronger than a few of the original album tracks. So, this elevates the album to a 4 star affair, from just good to great. I actually enjoy the album more because of these tracks.

TCat | 4/5 |

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