After its first line-up fell apart in 1969, Deep Purple decided (or more appropriately, guitarist Ritchie Blackmore decided) to stray from their obvious classical music influence and focus on shaping their music into a much more deliberate hard rock form, making a hard-edged sound which would later be rightfully described as a part of the birth of heavy metal. By straying from their previous sound ("Concerto For Group and Orchestra" and later "The Gemini Suite" were the only significant "classical" breaths from this new era), 1970's innovative "In Rock" saw new additions Ian Gillan and Roger Glover joining Blackmore, Jon Lord, and Ian Paice, making for Deep Purple's most memorable line-up, and firmly established the band's new purpose.
As is always the case, a follow-up was in demand, but Deep Purple were plagued with a hectic touring schedule, thus the several start-and-stop visits to the recording studio, which certainly influenced 1971's "Fireball." Sometimes, Deep Purple pulled together musically better than they did personally, which gave their albums their luster, and the songs here are no exception. "Fireball" made one of this band's most unique traits even more obvious; it was here that DP (lyrically and musically) took the obligatory themes of fast-paced, hard-living rock and roll lifestyles, and placed them in dramatic structures that gave these seemingly cliched topics a unique perspective. 'The Mule' is the best example of this; it is a dense, heavy, and dramatic piece that features a brief but poignant and well-sung verse from Gillan, topped off most notably by Paice's disciplined and raging percussion. 'Fools' is another dramatic song which clocks in at over eight minutes and is highlighted by a lonely, melancholy solo by Blackmore (most likely using a guitar though it sounds like, and may be, a violin or cello). But it's the more traditional rockers that put "Fireball" in the same class as the other Mark II line-up albums; the title track became a radio favorite, and 'Demon's Eye' sounds as if it could have been recorded even by the later Deep Purple line-ups. The closer, 'No One Came' is on the edge of erratic, with an always clever prose by Gillan.
Finally, Warner Archives and Rhino Records have given "Fireball" a well-deserved treatment; this remastered package comes with the hit single 'Strange Kind of Woman,' two songs left off the album (one of which, 'I'm Alone,' is ironically one of the best songs on this CD) and an unreleased track straight vaults ('Slow Train'). Also included is 'The Noise Abatement Society Tapes,' a hodgepodge of quirky rehearsals, not to mention a detailed booklet with abundant liner notes by Simon Robinson and contributions from Roger Glover.