Episode #10 – Fireball

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Show Updates:

  • In response to the question posed “Deep Purple in Rock” or “In Rock.”  James Massa came in with a good point that the I is lower case.

Patrons to Thank:

  • Clay Wombacher

Lead Up To Album & Writing:

  • They toured for 15 months straight after the release of “In Rock.”
  • “Fireball” was initially meant to be released at the end of 1970 but recording lasted from September through June.  It wasn’t released until July of 1971 as a result.
  • They recorded at De Lane Lea and Olympic Studios in London.
  • They also rented a house called “The Hermitage” in North Devon to prepare for the album.
  • The sessions weren’t very productive.
  • Blackmore was a bit of a prankster and smashed Glover’s door with an axe in the middle of the night leading to Glover chasing him and almost killing him.
  • During the two weeks locked away at this house Blackmore held a lot of seances.
  • The band was exhausted from being on the road and used the time to relax and spent a lot of time at the local pubs.
  • During this time Gillan and Blackmore’s relationship started to show its first signs of stress.  Gillan was starting to drink a lot more.
  • In “Deep Purple – A Matter of Fact” Jerry Bloom tells this story Jon Lord told him about how he drove to pick up his wife who’d just had a baby and drives back to the writing sessions in the middle of the night.  His child got sick and he had to drive them back to London. He missed three days of the recording session and they band was upset with him. It turned into a huge fight and he threatened to quit the band.
  • Roger Glover told a story about Ian Paice just walking all over the place holding a snare drum and hitting it.  He didn’t like the way it sounded in the studio but preferred the sound he got in the corridor. Because of this he set up his drums in the corridor to record.  Glover says the band was annoyed but they were happy with the resulting drum sound.
  • Blackmore was considering himself much more the focal point of the band, shifting from Jon Lord.  Ian Gillan was drinking a lot and starting to fight with Blackmore. Roger Glover states: “Ian seemed to go off the rails with attitude and drink problems.  He and Ritchie were at complete loggerheads and Ian may have got to the point where he thought ‘I’m the singer, if Ritchie can behave like that, so can I’. So he became just as big an arsehole.”
  • John Lord was having back problems which was a holdover injury from the Artwoods days when he was his own roadie, lugging a Hammond organ to gigs.
  • Roger Glover collapsed on stage one night and diagnosed with stress-related stomach problems.
  • Blackmore had to have his appendix removed.
  • Live shows were starting to show some strains.  Set was unchanged wince they didn’t have time to write new material.
  • They hoped to not be in the same position of having short studio sessions between gigs like for In Rock but it didn’t work out.
  • In the middle of all of this Lord took Paice and Glover off to join his other guests to perform “The Gemini Suite” with the Royal Philharmonic.

Album Art:

Album Details and Analysis:

1.) Fireball

  • Intro sound effect is meant to be a fireball moving by.  It was made by an air conditioning unit being turned on. The band apparently told the press it was a “special synthesizer.”
  • Gillan says it’s a song about “unrequited love.”
  • Track was released as a single and reached number 15 in the UK charts.
  • First instance of Ian Paice playing a double bass drum.
  • Legend has it that he borrowed a second bass drum from Keith Moon who was recording next door.
  • When played live a roadie used to add a second bass drum to his kit as double bass pedals didn’t exist yet.
  • It was dropped from the setlist early on, perhaps because of the work needed.
  • Legend also has it that this laid the blueprint for metal moving forward with two kick drums.

2.) No No No

  • Political and social protest song against environmental destruction.
  • Roger: “Ritchie is very influenced by Shuggy Otis these days, that’s what all those bits are.  A lot of it is very understated, it’s not flash, very cooly played.

3.) Demon’s Eye

  • This song is not on the US version that we had. Instead it was replaced with “Strange Kind of Woman.”

4.) Anyone’s Daughter

  • Tells a story in true Gillan fashion.
  • Gillans says this was a fun song but probably shouldn’t have been on the album.
  • The idea for the song came from Blackmore who was trying to emulate Albert Lee’s playing.
  • Recorded at the first session.  Roger Glover stated: “It was recorded the day after we’d had a big discussion about being exciting and heavy.  We were sitting around the studio waiting for inspiration when Ritchie just started tinkling around with that chord thing and we joined in.”
  • Jon Lord: “Ritchie has always admired country and western guitarists so he wrote it in that vein.”

5.) The Mule

  • Sounds like “Tomorrow Never Knows” by the Beatles.  Same idea, not my favorite of either band.
  • You can hear him start to lose the drums toward the end.
  • Lyrics are about the Isaac Asimov character “The Mule” from the Foundation series.  Odd that I never picked up on that because I would have been discovering this album around the time I was reading those books.
  • This song was in the set list until Mk 2 disbanded but mostly to serve as a launching point for Ian Paice’s drum solo.

6.) Fools

  • Song brings up Christian imagery such as “dying on a distant hill.”
  • Roger Glover from liner notes: “It’s about a guy who dies and he’s looking abck and can see the world is run by fools.  Ian’s voice has ‘thickened’ on this one. We’d been using the guitar solo on stage for some time, we never thought it would work on record, but it’s great. None of it was worked out, it’s just ad libbed.”
  • Ritchie used the volume swells he’s been using live on “Mandrake Root.”

7.) No One Came

  • Gillan says in “Child in Time” that this song came out of his fear that one day they’d play a show and no one would show up.
  • Another song that was never played live by the band.
  • Roger Glover from liner notes: “When we first recorded it, there seemed to be an awkward ending, so we made a ‘loop’ of eight bars of the basic riff and edited it on to the end.  Jon sat at the piano and played anything that came into his head while in the control room, on an empty piece of tape we recorded it, slowing it down and speeding up the tape speed, creating a strange effect.  This was then reversed and overdubbed randomly on to the new end section. No one knew what it would sound like but the very first time we tried it we loved the placement of it and that became final position.

Reception and Review

  • The band has been largely critical of this album over the years.
  • Blackmore was upset because he said that they were being pressured to record and not being given time to write.
    • “That was a bit of a disaster, because it was thrown together in the studio. Managerial pressure, we had no time. ‘You gotta play here, here, there, then you’ve got to make an LP.’ I told them, ‘if you want an LP, you’ve got to give us time.’ But they wouldn’t. I just threw ideas to the group that I thought up on the spur of the moment.”
  • Blackmore claims the only good tracks on the song are Fireball, No No No, and Fools.
  • Jon Lord said the album went in a direction they weren’t intending to go.
  • Gillan was the exception stating that Fireball was his favorite album.  He said it was progressive and experimental.
    • “The reason I liked that so much was because I thought, from a writing point of view, it was really the beginning of tremendous possibilities of expression. And some of the tracks on that album are really, really inventive.” However, Gillan also said that the inclusion of “Anyone’s Daughter” on the album was “a good bit of fun, but a mistake.”
  • David Hughes of Disc Magazine questioned how Purple could be progressive and still have hit singles (e.g. Strange Kind of Woman).
  • The album was a huge success and reached number one in the UK and 32 in the US though it stayed in the charts for a much shorter period than In Rock.
  • Lars Ulrich states that he bought this album within 12 hours of having seen them live for the first time.
  • Yngwie Malmsteen says his sister gave him this album when he was 8 and it “changed everything.”

In The News . . .

  • N/A

This Week in Purple History . . .

July 1 through July 7

  • July 4, 1969 – Mk I plays their last show at the Top Bank Ballroom in Cardiff, Wales
  • July 1, 1975 – Ian Gillan Band Forms
  • July 2, 1993 – The Battle Rages On released

Deep Purple Deep Track of the Week:

Listener Mail/Comments

  • Comments about the show? Things you’d like us to cover?  We’d love to hear from you. Send us an email at info@deeppurplepodcast.com or @ us on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.


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