Deep Purple released Fireball on this day in 1971.
This album was the group’s fifth studio release and the sixth release overall, a direct follow up to In Rock, which had been released the year prior. For this second studio outing, the Mark II lineup recorded intermittently beginning in September of 1970 when their punishing tour schedule would allow for breaks, ending in June of 1971. The work saw them stretching out, utilizing several different styles of approach and topics for their music. This included their oddball song “Anyone’s Daughter”, written in almost a country-style; the bizarre tone of the song was a chance for singer Ian Gillan to show off his now-famous offbeat sense of humor with his performance.
As an interesting trivia tidbit, Fireball is the first studio album for which every single track has been performed onstage during at least one tour. I talk specifically about one of their songs’ onstage history, “Fools”, here.
Fireball is a well-regarded part of the band’s catalogue, though the members themselves are split on its merits; Gillan considers it one of his favorite records the band created, while guitarist Ritchie Blackmore did not think it was particularly good.
The music-buying public seems considerably less divided; this was the first of Deep Purple’s albums to reach No. 1 on the UK charts, a feat only matched by its immediate successor Machine Head and later compilation album Deepest Purple. It did well elsewhere too, reaching No. 1 on the German charts for four weeks. This was the second of Purple’s albums to reach #1 in Germany after In Rock. In the United States, it blew past all but the band’s first album to reach No. 32 on the chart; no album since their debut effort had even cracked the top fifty, and none since The Book of Taliesyn had even broken the top 100.
- Edit on 2021-01-24: Added more specific information on German charting. Optimized for new site.