LAURA SHENTON – Deep Purple Fireball: In-depth
The 1971 LP entitled "Fireball" by the hard rock pioneers Deep Purple has always occupied a rather special and intriguing position in the group’s catalogue of albums, and it is undoubtedly one of the more divisive entries in their discography. Obviously, that makes for a great topic of discussion and so Laura Shenton’s study of the record approaches it from different angles and highlights the long and arduous road that led to its creation and release. As the author illustrates quite perfectly, the members of Deep Purple themselves were and still are conflicted about it. While Ritchie Blackmore loathes the album and finds it a rather pointless exercise in progressive hard rock, Ian Gillan treasures the LP and considers it one of his favorites by the group.
This 128-page piece on "Fireball" draws on everything from album reviews to interviews with Purple and further on to concert reviews and various bits of news that were published in the papers back in the day. With respect to the interviews with the band, it is interesting to note that Blackmore’s perception of the circumstances surrounding the writing and recording of the output and his opinion on the final product have ever wavered to this day, which interviews published within the past ten years clearly state. Perhaps the best part of "Deep Purple Fireball: In-depth" is its analysis of how the 1971 opus compares to its predecessor, "Deep Purple In Rock" (1970), and its successor, "Machine Head" (1972) – two wildly successful and pioneering works that very much overshadow "Fireball". Is the latter an overlooked gem then with a lot of merit to it or a lackluster affair lacking musical cohesion that was very much a product of being written while on the road and then recorded sporadically? And what about the quality of the shows and tours as well as the creative spark and chemistry within Purple? All of that and more is covered within its pages.
Shenton’s book is very much an objective study of "Fireball" in the sense that she does not lend her own voice to the narrative much, but the critics and Deep Purple themselves offer some interesting and thought-provoking perspectives that you will undoubtedly find interesting. I very much enjoyed reading this one and particularly the bits and pieces revolving around one of my all-time favorite Purple tunes, namely "No One Came".