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- Archive Feature
is unbelievably ten years old this year. Always one of my favourite
(if not, the favourite), I thought it would be nice to mark
the occasion with some details on the recording of it, together
with a useful interview.
Purple In Rock's success took the band somewhat by surprise.
They had built up a good following by the constant touring which
preceded it but had never expected it to stay in the top 30
charts for a whole year. Towards the end of 1970, the time came
to think of a follow-up. The band were still filling the demand
for concerts which In Rock had caused, and were expected to
somehow break off to do an album without having had any time
to think about what they wanted to do. Not only that, but there
was the additional pressure of having to follow In Rock. So,
in September 1970 they found themselves in the studios, and
more or less at a loss for ideas. As an indication 'Anyone's
Daughter' was the first track they laid down! It was just a
fun song really, to get the sessions going - Ritchie came up
with a country and western backing, Ian wrote some appropriate
lyrics, and they recorded it almost live.
next visit to the studio didn't take place until January 1971.
This time the bulk of the album was completed, and 'The Mule',
'No One Came', and 'Prostitute' - soon rattled 'Strange Kind
Of Woman', substantially finished, and three other numbers worked
out: 'Distilled' (which become 'Fireball'), 'Slow Train', and
'Born To Live (Freedom)'. Hoping to finish the LP, they even
re-scheduled the first four dates of the UK tour at Leeds on
January 29th, and the first taste of the new material came out
on Dec 12th in the shape of 'Strange Kind Of Woman' / 'I'm Alone'.
'I'm Alone' made use of an older riff which had been titled
'Grabsplatter' (issued on an EP in 1980). The band returned
to the studio after the tour to do 'No No No' and 'Fools'. As
yet, we can't say at which studio the various numbers were done.
Roger indicated that 'The Mule' had been done at Olympic, whilst
most of it was done at De Lane Lea with engineer Martin Birch,
whom they'd discovered during In Rock's recording.
A live gig at London's Roundhouse on April 30th as part of the
Camden Arts Festival saw the band trying out 'No One Came' on-stage,
probably the only time it was done live. The tapes were finished
in time for the group to issue Fireball over in America in July,
coinciding with an important tour there. At the request of Warners,
they included 'Strange Kind Of Woman' on it. The album was finally
issued in the UK in September, with another UK tour the same
month. Although the band had talked of including a new version
of 'Strange Kind of Woman' here, this was never done. Instead
we got an extra track called 'Demon's Eye', probably the last
track to be taped for the album, nearly nine months after the
first had been done!
Because it had taken so long to do, the album was in some ways
squeezed out of the live shows, and few of the songs were done
on-stage; only 'Fireball', 'No No No', 'The Mule' and 'Strange
Kind Of Woman' were used regularly. The reason was quite simple,
the band were already writing material for the next album, and
two of these numbers - 'Highway Star' and 'Lazy', were being
done on a tour which should have been promoting Fireball!
LP went into the charts replacing In Rock, and stayed there
for about ten weeks. This wasn't a bad showing, but the longevity
of In Rock made it seem less of a success I suppose. That, coupled
with adverse comments on the album by the band, tend to give
Fireball a rather poor reputation today, whereas in reality
it is a superb LP, but one which many people - expecting more
of the same after In Rook, failed to appreciate.
there is no denying that due to the length of time it took to
do, the album lacks the unity of purpose which marked In Rock,
and some of the later LPs. The end result was a number of individually
excellent tracks which didn't combine to make a strong album
because they all seemed different. This was something all the
band saw as the main drawback to the LP: Jon Lord - "I think
it was a better album than a lot of people said it was, musically,
but it lost a lot of balls. There was very little linkage between
sessions. With In Rock we were trying to make a point. Fireball
is a much more melodic album, funkier. It's closer to what I
would want from a rock album than In Rock was". Ritchie however
was hard on the album right from the start - "I got kind of
bitter, and threw ideas to the group that I had thought up on
the spur of the moment. I said if you want an LP you've got
to give us time. We made virtually everything up in the studio,
we never had any time to sit back and think. There are only
three tracks I think are good: 'No No No' 'Fools', and 'Fireball'
itself". He also got in a dig at John Peel, who had been slagging
Purple off in the press; "We work around riffs. Y'know, we ring
up John Peel and ask him if he's got any good riffs!!
too came down on the album, and tends to feel in retrospect
they maybe progressed too far with it. It's a bit sad to hear
this about your favourite album! Only lan Gillan seemed to be
positive about it, and still is today - "I personally prefer
it to In Rock, but the rest of the group prefer In Rock. Fireball
was a little more introvert, yet it was just as heavy. I thought
there was more to it, though I suppose it wasn't very together
as far as the feeling of the album as a whole goes".
To me it just seemed right; a natural progression to In Rock.
It had different moods, so you could play different tracks at
different times. In Rock was a very positive album, but tended
to stick to the one theme. Fireball doesn't get played all the
way through as often, but the individual cuts are singled out
more frequently. The band seemed to be satisfied with what they
had said and done on In Rock, and settled down to produce an
album for themselves, not worrying too much about how it would
be received. The musicianship was superb, with good performances
from everyone. It was balanced too, with less emphasis on solos
every number. One track in particular, 'No One Came', illustrates
just how well they were playing. A brilliant bass line from
Roger, with a slightly synthesised tone to it. Ace drumming
from Paicey (who discovered during the sessions, as he wandering
about the corridor banging a snare drum, that he got a much
better sound out there than in the studio room. As a result
his kit was installed outside for the duration, and later on
Machine Head, for the entire LP).
The guitar solo hardly seems like a solo, it blends in so well.
Ritchie had abandoned his "faster than thou" approach for a
much more subtle and emotional technique which I find stunning.
Lordy simply moves in as Ritchie ends, and with some brilliant
organ work takes the number to a climax, before lan Gillan returns
for the punch line. lan's lyrics are easily some of his best
ever. A clever and witty use of words to put across an idea
which on paper seems to mean nothing, but when he sings it,
makes perfect sense.
I could ramble on about all the tracks. It was an album you
could play at school with pride, stuff the common room trendies,
this is what a good band sounds like. The disc came in a luxurious
embossed sleeve which you could almost caress, some neat photos
inside, and a lyric sheet. It just seemed to yell "class", and
later won a design award. If I had to choose between this and
In Rock for my desert island, I still don't know which I would
pick. Dig it out and see what you think; and if you don't have
it, forsake the much touted, but more clinical Machine Head
et al, and put this top of your shopping list!
- NME Article, August 14th 1971
"This album is more mellow than Deep
Purple In Rock. When we recorded that we were a bit angry at
the world because we didn't have a name, we weren't big, and
we just wanted to smash it through that we played rock. Now
we're not as angry, this is a sit of sit-back album, but not
in the sense that we're trying to prove all the things we can
do. It's just easier going Deep Purple. It's just a natural
progression I think."
Roger Glover, back
the day before from an arduous tour of America and Canada, was
talking about Purple's new album. FIREBALL. He contributed a
lot of background information and expressed opinions on the
improvement of various members of the band.
The album begins with FIREBALL, a helluva
rocker. lan Paice's fierce, fast drumming spurs on the guitars
of Glover and Richie Blackmore, and lan Glllan sings with controlled
force. There's a typical Gillan scream among the frenzy, then
he continues the tale of a woman who is doing him in. Paice's
drumming, specially the bass work, is excellent rock and roll
of the calibre not heard much these days unfortunately. Jon
Lord has a period of pounding individual notes before we return
to the main theme.
ROGER (referring to what sounded exactly
like a lead guitar solo): Weird bass solo that, that's a bass,
doesn't sound like a bass does it?
NO, NO, NO is slow (it had to be after the
last track), with a plodding beat interspersed with almost funky
passages from Richie Blackmore's lead. His solo has a lot of
echo and not a little feel, Glover maintaining an effective
heavy beat throughout. The lyrics are simple and not the best
ever written but they fit the style of the number. Lord is almost
Jimmy McGriff-ish in his approach to his solo contribution which
builds on a chord at the end.
ROGER: See, Richie is very influenced these
days by Shuggy Otis, that's what all those bits are. A lot of
it is very understated, it's not flash, very coolly played.
It's amazing how little Ian has changed, when I first joined
the band he was... (he waved his arms about to Indicate frenetic
drumming) now he's.... (gentle rhythms with the hands) Just
listen to it. It's about the most complicated bass pattern I've
ever used, usually I just plod along and leave it to the others.
It occurred to us that it might be a great audience participation
number, we'd just shout out obvious things that the audience
wouldn't like and get them shouting 'no no, no.' I don't know
if it will work. We'll just have to wall and see.
DEMON'S EYE: a medium- paced rocker with Gillan
doing his sexual groan routine. There's a fair bit of fuzz on
the guitars, especially noticeable during Lord's solo which
is high-pitched in contrast. It's one of those numbers that
has Deep Purple stamped all over it and marches on steadily,
leaving deposits of evil in its wake.
ROGER: The whole album was going to rest
on one track, Fireball. We couldn't think of one track on Deep
Purple In Rock that it could rest on. If they played Fireball
on the radio it would be a great selling point. Actually we'd
decided on the title of this album before we'd written the words.
ANYONE'S DAUGHTER. All sorts of country-style
tinklings that sound like tuning-up time have been left on at
the beginning. It's a spoof of so many C&W numbers but at the
same time a considerably good track. Lord throws in some nice
studio boogie piano almost nonchalantly and Blackmore adds some
repeated phrasing, mainly in the background, with some licks
up front. The lyrics are amusing and delivered in a semi-serious
manner while, as the track progresses, the music becomes more
involved, only to fade on a short piano run.
ROGER: The reason we left all this rubbish
on the beginning was we'd got used to hearing it playbacks so
many times it didn't seem right without it. This is very strange,
this track, because it was recorded the day after we'd had a
big discussion about being exciting and heavy. It's difficult
to keep excitement going, you could easily fall back and let
things go along normally. If we wrote ballads it would be very
simple. We were sitting round the studio waiting for inspiration
and Richie just started tinkling around with that chord thing
and we joined in, it was a fun.
THE MULE: Again Paice's drums are immediately
noticeable, flitting from speaker to speaker. The music almost
drowns out the lyrics and has a weird spacey quality which sounds
as though it's been achieved by a novel use of an organ-lead-guitar
combination. Blackmore takes over and the drums speed up over
a continuous drone. I was reminded of Sabre Dance at times.
Not for the musically squeamish.
ROGER: The lyrics aren't very important
in this number. That's why they're sort of set back, it's more
of a mood thing. We had so much trouble mixing this one, I'd
sit up until six every morning doing it -it'd start with the
whole group there and one by one they'd yawn and go 'there's
not much I can do to help' and they'd drift off and leave me
on my own. I'm still not happy with it, I'd like to do it again.
It's musically great and there's a
lot of excitement there, I don't want to bring it down in any
way, but I'd like to bring the excitement out a bit more. It's
a whole weird thing this. (He paused and added with a laugh)
A weird trip, man!
FOOLS. The opening bars are reminiscent in
a strange way of 'Child In Time'. It's all very deceptively
modest until the breakthrough, when the heavy rock smashes through
the surface. A repeated guitar riff lends considerable weight
to Gillan's vocals. Midway Blackmore uses alternating volume
control to create a cello effect. Back to the lyrics which says
a hell of a lot in terms of trying to put put people straight,
and a spot of bass organ with a cathedral-like effect totally
suitable for the mood.
ROGER: This is one of my favourites. It's
quite deep really, very loosely it's about a guy who dies and
he's looking back and can see the world is run by fools. What
he's saying is 'I'm dead. But if I could only communicate with
you, you'd be so much better off.' It's a protest song in a
way. Ian's voice has changed a lot, especially on this one,
it's thickened. He's proved he could scream but this one is
middle range. This is another example of little Ian's' subtleness
and we've been using this guitar solo on stage for some time,
we never thought it'd work on a record but it's worked great.
None of it is worked out, he's making it up as he goes along.
It's completely ad lib. The electric piano chords were on afterwards.
I think the same thing's happened to Richie that's happen to
little Ian, he doesn't have to go out and prove he can play
fast, consequently there are little licks and runs that are
pure tasteful. The words were written by Ian and myself, most
of the words on the albums are written by him but occasionally
we get together.
NO ONE CAME is no-holds-barred fury. Gillan
packs spit into his voice. Glover underlines the whole shebang
with simple but effective bass line work and Blackmore has an
almost lyrical solo that explores a number of suggestions before
petering off, leaving the way clear for the organ to take up
the lead and guide everything along. While all this is going
on the drums pound out a steady rhythm there's what sounds like
some organ experimentation of a curious nature - (Roger was
to prove me wrong on this later) - which fades leaving you wondering
what's going to happen next. But isn't that sometimes the best
ROGER: This is my favourite number on the
album. It's got that weird beginning that throws it, it comes
in on the on-beat. These are some of the best lyrics Ian has
ever written, they're autobiographical to a certain extent,
with a little embelishment. Some of the best drum sounds I've
ever heard on this track, that and 'Demon's Eye.' Very simple
bass line that, one note. We took the first verse without the
words and put it on the end, just a load of rhythm, that's backward
piano. It's just pure chance the way it fits.
Jamming - Archive Feature
doubt, the most important release of late has been that of the
first official Deep Purple video cassette. Even though I know
only a small minority of you have access to a machine, it can't
really be ignored! I hope most of you got to hear the tracks
aired by Tommy Vance on the radio, and I've no doubt tapes of
the soundtrack will start to circulate if EMI still persist
in their idiotic stance of only issuing studio quality material
on disc (surely just a limited pressing is feasible?). For those
of us without the video, I hope the inclusion of the following
series of photographs will be some consolation, but first some
details of the actual festival. Deep Purple Mk 3 began their
first US tour with a gig in Phoenix, Arizona on February 3rd
1974, coinciding with the release of Burn. It was a long tour,
but a successful one, making the band the biggest selling group
in the States that year. The tour headed towards a climax in
April, with a massive outdoor festival at the Ontario Speedway
on April 6th 1974. The band had known about the festival for
some months, they'd been booked even before Mk 3's lineup had
been finalised - attracted by an undisclosed fee, and the impressive
publicity it would generate.
Ontario Speedway is near Los Angeles in California, and the
concert was promoted by ABC TV. They hoped to make a killing
by filming the entire event, and then screening it on TV. In
the event, they made a profit on ticket sales alone, with a
crowd of 200,000 people attending. It was due to last twelve
hours, and Deep Purple were supposed to be co-headliners with
Emerson Lake and Palmer. Lower down on the bill were Black Sabbath,
Black Oak Arkansas, The Eagles and more. There was apparently
a soundcheck the previous day, for pictures have been seen showing
the group tuning up on stage, and in different gear to the actual
show. The stage was built around four railroad box cars, with
scaffolding around it for the lights etc. and a massive wooden
painted rainbow spanning the back of the stage. It was this
rainbow by the way which gave Ritchie the idea for his electronic
version when he formed Rainbow in 1975.
Stories abound about the group, the main problem arising when
the show ran early, and Deep Purple were asked to go on while
it was still light. Ritchie Blackmore: "We were headliners -
and we were supposed to go on the stage at dusk: 7.30pm. We
arrived early to tune up and the promoter says 'you've got to
go on'. We outright refused. It was 6.30, and we weren't about
to do anything of the sort. I just ignored him. He said we'd
be off the show if I wasn't on-stage by the time he counted
30. He hadn't t reached 15 when I had him thrown out". Purple
got their way and went on as it got dark. The set followed the
normal order,and it went down well with the crowd. During 'Space
Truckin', Ritchie began to ask one of the camera men to move
back, as he was coming right onto the stage and blocking people's
view. He did so, but began to edge on a little later. Eventually
Ritchie began to break his guitar up over the camera, and rammed
it right into the lens. "I hadn't planned to go for the camera,
I was out to kill this guy who gave me the countdown! Anyway,
I couldn't spot him, so I had a go at the camera". The audience
loved it! At the end of the number Ritchie's amps were totally
ablaze, and he was rushing around like a demon.
TV sponsored the US TV show "In Concert", which showed various
groups live once a week. The California Jam was filmed specifically
for the show, and screened over four weeks. The first week saw
a compilation of all the bands, intercut with interviews etc.
On this show they used an edited 7 minute version of 'Space
Trucking', just the demolition sequence. A follow up programme
showed more or less the whole of Deep Purple's set, and was
broadcast in conjunction with ABC FM radio stations. It was
repeated at least four times over the years, but never taken
up by UK TV stations. A couple of cuts managed to sneak out
on two bootlegs, and that was it. A couple of years later in
London, Tony Edwards managed to get the 7 minute edit of 'Space
Trucking' included in a Deep Purple compilation which he assembled
for European TV stations. Again it was ignored in the UK. It
wasn't until 1980, and the release of the Deepest Purple compilation
by EMI that we got to see any of the video. The album was to
be heavily promoted on TV, and casting around for some exciting
footage, they eventually used 30 seconds or so of the California
Jam. To see it, we had to sit through hours of commercials!
To get the video transferred onto the UK video system Tony Edwards
had used the facilities of the BBC. It turned out that they
were planning their first video cassettes for 1981, and so a
deal was arranged whereby they could issue the entire concert.
It wasn't a straight forward task by any means. The footage
was at times poor, and had to be beefed up. ABC had erased the
master tapes of Deep Purple's set (in revenge for the loss of
their TV camera!), so the sound had to be taken off the existing
video soundtrack instead. However from what I heard on the radio,
they have done a very good job. The music was also much better
than I had expected. The vocals are some of the best we've heard
from Coverdale's Purple days, and both Paice and Lord get well
mixed up. Blackmore is rather subdued but seems to take heart
when they reach 'Mistreated' - and although the intro doesn't
quite scale the heights of Perks & Tit, the rest is excellent.
So all in all, it's a good video debut for the band.
US NEWSPAPER ARTICLE
high in the air on a giant TV crane, Diane Biederbecke aimed
her ABC-video-taping camera at the stage far below. The crowd
at the Ontario Speedway was growing impatient as the next attraction,
Deep Purple, stalled and waited for the sun's last rays to disappear
beyond the horizon. On the stage itself
the video cameras were poised for action. At last Deep Purple
sauntered out before the massive crowds and struck their thunderous
opening chords. The TV tapes flicked into action and Diane,
like the eye of a tremendous iron snake started to swing on
a wide arch toward the intensely engrossed musicians.
Deep Purple's fury grew, until
guitarist Ritchie Blackmore, feeling his characteristic surge
of pure violence, lashed out with his axe at the unblinking
eye of the video camera nearest him. For those watching In Concert
on their television sets at home, there was a vision of shattering
glass and chaos. "I think I'm personally responsible for Blackmore
hitting the guitar against the camera," remarked Josh White,
the boyish director of In Concert's "California Jam. Part I
and II." "Because I saw him the night before. Deep Purple did
a technical rehearsal, and I said 'are you going to smash your
guitar?' And Richie said, 'yeah, maybe. I dunno. what the hell.'
He was kind of irked about a dozen things having nothing to
do with me. And I said. 'Well, listen, if you do it, favor the
camera. I'll get a good shot of it and it'll look great.' He
favored the camera all right" Josh laughed, "to the
tune of $8,000 in damages."
The First Clean Up -
Bootleg Album Review
First Clean Up ED 129:1981.
A curious new item, originating in Europe, with a collection
of items from the numerous Purple cassettes floating about.
The plain white sleeve just has the words "The Unreleased Album,
Deep Purple, First Clean Up, Live, Limited Edition" on, and,
according to people over there, is one of a series of similarly
packaged albums by various groups. Pressed in red vinyl, the
label has tracks and dates on.
Side one contains 'Ricochet', from the BBC archive session.
It's one of the items we rescued from the BBC when working on
In Concert, but didn't think worthy of release. It's the 'Speed
King' tune with improvised lyrics, and was taped in 1969, 'Mumblin'
Thing Blues' follows, taped in Koln, 4.4.70. It has been bootlegged
before, on a long deleted record called Back To The Rock, but
this seems to be slightly better quality. The song is a loose
jam. There's very little guitar on it, but it's interesting
for real fans. 'Joddle King', from Offenbach 10.4.71 turns out
to be 'Speed King', prefixed by the 90 second yodel which the
band did for a time in 1970, taking the piss out of The Equals.
I guess Joddle = Yodel! It's a good item though, with some crazy
out of tune guitar, but nice interplay between Jon & Ritchie
in the middle, getting quiet "you can hear a zip being undone",
as lan puts it. 'Maybe I'm A Leo', the only unreleased number
from the In Concert album, closes the side. It was a toss up
between this and 'Never Before' when we did the LP, and this
lost. An average performance, but as they only did it live once,
it's one for collectors. Recorded in March 1972.
two is generally poorer quality, being mostly audience recordings
except for the opener 'No No No', taped for German TV in 1971.
Always a sad song live I thought, lan sounds a bit hoarse, but
there's the nice funky bit near the end where he yells "do you
like me? No No No", and seems to mean it. 'Fireball', taken
from Sheffield City Hall, Oct 5th 1971 is from my first ever
Purple concert. Quite haunting to find it on vinyl ten years
later. They used to take the song at twice the studio speed,
and how they kept it going I'll never know. "This is the fastest
song we do,cos it kills us" lan once put it, and wasn't far
wrong. There is a stunned silence before the crowd erupt at
the end. 'Mary Long' is next, a poor version - the band were
after all only a couple of months away from splitting at this
time - it was done at Wien, 14.3.73. The disc ends with an early
Mk 3 song, from 11.12.73 at Gothenburg; 'What's Going On Here',
only done live a few times. Distorted vocals, but very loud
guitar - you can hear the amps buzzing quite clearly.
Mainly for hardened collectors then, if you can find it (don't
write to us) - and I've just noticed it's arranged in chronological
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