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Deep Purple - Fireball CD (album) cover


Deep Purple



3.79 | 853 ratings

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4 stars A letdown after In Rock, but nowhere near as much as I thought it was after first listen. If I had to make any major complaints at this juncture, it would be about this album's production; the in-your-face crank-it-as-one sound of In Rock is largely lost here, with Ian's voice largely buried and the other instruments often sounding like they were tracked 20 feet from the microphones. Another, less serious issue is that the band decided to diversify a bit - on the one hand, this eliminated any chance of the album being an inferior In Rock 'clone,' but on the other it means the band isn't doing what it knows best, which means the finished product can't help but suffer a whee bit.

It starts out on a high note, of course, and a fairly expected one at that. "Fireball" would fit in perfectly well on In Rock, propelled by an awesome drum groove (kicking off the song), Ritchie's typically speedy riffage, Ian's typically great singing and some more goofily fast organ and guitar solos. Of course, I can barely hear Ian's great singing, but again, that's just a general flaw to be accepted about the album. That is, except on track three (of the US version, which I have), a single that was obviously recorded in a completely different session from everything else on here. "Strange Kind of Woman" is just about the perfect pop-blues-rock piece, one that packages the crrrrunch that Ritchie and the rhythm players could deliver into a melody that is just about impossible to stop singing for hours after the track is over. And, naturally, it also has the best guitar solo on the album. This track would get better live, but believe me, this version deserves all the credit it can get.

The other five tracks, though, are a bit puzzling to hear on a Mk. 2 Deep Purple album. "No No No" is the worst of these, acting almost as a parody of the band's successes on In Rock. It starts off as an ok mid-tempo stomping rocker, kinda like "Into the Fire," but not only does it not have as much crunchy power as its predecessor, it makes the mistake of going almost seven minutes without the various solos doing much interesting. Ritchie more or less succeeds in creating some trippy, "moody" guitar sounds in his part before moving into some rather mundane soloing, but Jon is largely intolerable as he plays a slooooow, boooooooring part using "Tarkus" noises but forgetting to make them fast or interesting. Meh. If you can make it through seven minutes of this, you're a better man than I.

Beyond this, we come to a country number ("Anyone's Daughter"), with an introduction featuring some beautiful slide work in places, before settling into the actual song. It isn't bad, but it won't knock "Dead Flowers" off its pedestal as my favorite country song anytime soon. The piano work is a nice touch, though. Then we come to a more-or-less psychedelic (!) number in "The Mule," which features a fantastic percussion groove combined with Easterny guitar lines. In theory, it should probably get boring, but it really doesn't - Ritchie gets an awesome solo in the middle, and the bulk of the rest manages to be so hypnotic, and the ending so percussion intense, that I can't honestly say that I don't enjoy the heck out of it.

The last two tracks are each quite long, and my feelings are mixed for them. I kinda like the quiet Gillan vocals over the quiet organ introduction to "Fools," but I'm not sure I'd stretch it out quite so long if it were up to me. The song itself ends up rocking pretty well in places, but danged if I don't notice the weak production here more than elsewhere on this album. And needless to say, making it more than eight minutes, where many stretches are slow guitar noodling over a (nice nevertheless) percussion pattern, is a bit excessive. Finally, the album ends with another well-written, well-arranged, badly produced rocker in "No One Came." On the one hand, the vocals are mixed hideously on this track; on the other, Gillan's delivery is hilarious (I love the way he says "And said man your music is really funky"), Lord's solos are interesting, and the "meat" of the track is plenty tight and crunchy for my tastes.

It may seem from reading that a **** is a bit high for the description I've given. Maybe. Then again, there's only one track that I actively dislike, a couple I really enjoy, and the rest is intriguing at the worst. In other words, I may not be thrilled by this the way I am by In Rock, but I definitely don't dislike the album enough to give it less than a very good grade. A low **** it is.

PS: As mentioned before, I have the US version of the album. The UK version has a track called "Demon Eyes" in place of "Strange Kind of Woman."

PPS: The liner notes for the US version make reference to "bassist Ian Gillan and vocalist Roger Glover." Amazing.

tarkus1980 | 4/5 |


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