Very unfair: It is a much more even album than its
predecessor. The band plays tighter, the pieces have fallen into place, and
thus they also deliver a more self-assured and bold attack. The interplay
between Blackmore and Lord is sometimes exceptionally funky, and behind them
the rhythm section pushes on like a diesel locomotive. It’s heavy, it’s
powerful, it’s cool, it’s groovy. The band is in complete control.
They hardly yield an inch from the formula, good as it
is, except for a tiny pinch of backwards guitars, the frantic pace of the
title track and of course the album’s absurdly atypical “Anyone’s Daughter”
- a talking blues satire with a cowboy hat, served in a stripped down
arrangement of honky tonk-piano, plucking country guitar, tambourine and a
remote, dreamlike electric slide. Ian Gillan shows his versatility as he
turns into a storyteller, relaxed, almost cheerful, a twinkle in his eye.
But on the rest of the album he is a brutal ox pulling
the heavy monster through your speakers, sometimes breaking out in his ear
piercing signature howl.
It is a blessing to hear Deep Purple from this period.
They were a unique organism, every individual contributed to the whole, and
that whole was the mark II lineup, the classic Purple, and no other band on
the planet sounded like them.
Blackmore was the flashy eye-and ear-grabbing guitar hero
or even semi-god, battling it out with Jon Lord’s huge, dirty waves of
Hammond. Blackmore’s guitar and Lord’s organ and the way the two musicians
interacted was the trademark of the band, as was Gillan’s use of his vocal
cords. But none of them would have achieved this without the band’s stellar
rhythm section. Roger Glover’s fluid and tight bass playing was both melodic
and funky. Bespectacled Ian Paice, looking so fragile behind his drums, was
a powerhouse of a man, one of the best rock drummers ever.
The band never seemed to like “Fireball” much (except
maybe Gillan). Blackmore claimed they were under pressure and never had time
for quality control. That may be so, but it sure doesn’t sound like it.
“Fireball” is a strong piece of work, it captures this incarnation of the
band just as they struck gold. They had just entered their classic period.
They are inspired. They are in shape. They deliver.
The fabulous “Strange Kind Of Woman”, recorded at the
same sessions, was omitted from the album. It was only released as a single
in Europe. At the time they must have thought that “Fireball” was strong
enough as it was. And they were right.
Original European release July 1971:
(All songs written by Ritchie Blackmore, Ian Gillan,
Roger Glover, Jon Lord and Ian Paice)
1. “Fireball” 3:25
2. “No No No” 6:54
3. “Demon’s Eye” 5:19
4. “Anyone’s Daughter” 4:43
5. “The Mule” 5:23
6. “Fools” 8:21
7. “No One Came” 6:28
Ritchie Blackmore - guitar
Ian Gillan - vocals
Roger Glover - bass
Jon Lord - keyboards, Hammond organ
Ian Paice – drums