Performed byDeep Purpleand reaching number 15 in the UK charts _________________________________________________________________________________
Original broadcast date02/12/1971Duration of dance - 2.31 mins _________________________________________________________________________________
Dancers: Andy, Babs, Dee Dee, Flick, Louise, Ruth _________________________________________________________________________________
A link to the dance:
Originally billed as "Roundabout", Deep Purple were named after a song title (yes the one covered by Donny & Marie) in 1968. Ritchie Blackmore chose it as "it was a song my grandmother used to play on the piano". Deep Purple have always been primarily an album band. Their first three LP's were fairly successful in the US but didn't chart in the UK. Only their 4th album "Deep Purple In Rock", released in June 1970, became their breakthrough record in Europe, peaking at No. 4 in Britain.
"Fireball", taken from the album of the same name, was the third DP 45 to make the UK charts after "Black Night" (No. 2) and "Strange Kind Of Woman" (No. 8). It was also their final Top 20 single in Britain. The song entered the UK Top 30 in the week ending 04/12/1971.
That week's Top Of The Pops had been wiped from the BBC archives but in 2008 it was discovered that Polydor Records (Slade's record company) had recorded the show (and 18/11/1971) on a Philips 1500 and that the tapes still existed. The recording was recovered and is now held by the BFI while the BBC also have a copy. Unfortunately it is in black and white only. Like 18/11/1971, the episode features Jimmy Savile's "twin brother Percy".
Even more than "Let's See Action" (from TOTP 18/11/1971), the Pan's People routine for "Fireball" suffers from the absence of colours. One can only speculate about the vibrancy of the original performance - but I assume the colours used for the costumes would have been those of flames: red, orange, black, possibly yellow.
The choreography is certainly a bit different but I do like those headbanging rocking girls, even if the routine doesn't quite work without the proper colours. Just as the track, the performance is very fast and even, dare I say, slightly chaotic in places. The moves seem to be a little too complicated which makes it hard to keep up, causing the dance to look somewhat untidy here and there. One dancer in particular loses her way a couple of times because of the pace of the routine.
It's not a clip that I play very often, and when I do, I find myself lamenting over the loss of colours rather than enjoying what's there.
Shifting into top gear, this one is a fast, furious and frenetic fireball! The outfits themselves display a lot of flesh but the shawl with feather like additions make the fast movement much of a blur on close-ups. The low quality nature of the existing recording doesn't help and there's no doubt also that the impact of this performance has also been reduced due to lack of colour...of course, we're lucky it exists at all.
There's a cabaret type feel to the result but that's not necessarily a bad thing and it's all quite relentless in its pace which obviously suits the nature of the record. Flick gives it her all so is my DotD but honourable mention for Dee Dee and Ruth who are also well in tune with the proceedings. 7/10
I'm a little conflicted again here. Far from being a Dance track I do like Flick's attempt to choreograph this pre-Thrash and I suspect in colour these ladies would have looked literally Red hot but the black and white and fuzz take some of the shine off the performance once again. Nevertheless the ladies still manage to generate considerable heat and for the most part they do a commendable job of keeping up with the speed of the music and I find it's a good one to just lose yourself in and turn up really loud even for dance enjoyment. One could almost hope that the dancers were given a rest week between Let's See Action and this one, such is the pace. Babs throws in a little Allemande for good measure but largely compensates with Blonde bombshell explosion contributions. Anyway I do like this overall and am awarding 8/10 with a promise of at least 9 if the colour version appears. My DotD is Dee Dee who is always good when told to "give your all."
Some Dancers who gave a good time, broke all the rules, played all the fools, yeah yeah yeah they blew our minds
This dance routine features an obvious frantic pace, in tune with it's corresponding soundtrack, including, at times, absolutely insanely fast paced stomping, & waving of tail feathers, & just look at the ladie's top halves, it all must've ruffled a few feminist feathers, what with it being the early '70s, & 'women's lib' in the ascendency.
But it's great fun to watch for The few minutes of it's duration.
A frenetic effort from five firebirds and then some. Taxiing phoenix risk a pile up on the runway as some of the semaphore goes a bit astray, while I fear Flick is going to do herself a mischief (or at least give herself a headache) before take off, but even in black and white this is worth an 8 while the frenzied Flick just beats Dee Dee for Dotd.
Yes, those vigorous bodies in flaming costumes must be quite a sight in colour. It's worth remembering though that in 1971 many homes didn't have a colour set, my expectation would be over 50%, and in a lot of areas the proud owners would be the envy of the street. It's quite compelling when things are going well even in blurry b/w, but too often things go awry and the effect is like a splash of water on it. You don't get any of this shaking it about like mad with Legs & Co. One or two such dances would have been good but I wouldn't need any more. Yes, it's raunchy, but it soon becomes monotonous and enter any complexity and it can easily come unstuck. Though on this occasion it seems to be the slower stages that cause the most faltering. I've never been one for bluesy hard rock either but this one ain't so bad and there are some interesting sounds in the latter part. The chopped-up camerawork we see at the end is another common motif of this time and not one I'm a fan of.
Yes for the second raucous rock track (the first being I'm A Man) we have another almost primal piece of carefree body shaking using those flame costumes to good effect. The seemingly high tempo means there is no let up in the proceedings, and the two or so minutes seem to fly by. It does kind of break down towards the end, the abstract drum interlude seemingly difficult to provide anything for Flick to devise steps for and the last 20 seconds is some quite insane editing but on the whole i do really enjoy this. Not quite up to the standard of the previous routine for The Who, i'll give it 7.5/10. DOTD Ruth
As has already been said this was probably so much better in colour. Although we have enough left to fill in the gaps and sharpen the image. So I think the original version would have been worth a 9/10.
Dotd: I found myself drawn to poor Andi. I don't know if I ever saw Pan's People with her in and if I did I obviously didn't pay any attention as I was so young. So I've effectively been introduced to her through this site and I find myself wishing there was a little bit more good quality material from that time to remember her by.
I watched this for the first time last night and I just thought:- one sexy, raunchy dance. The outfits were perfect for the song and the routine was fabulous. Loved all the headbanging. It really was Pans People at their best and how they will always be remembered. Sexy and fun. I will award this dance nine out of ten and the best dancer is awarded to Andrea. She looked so lovely.
Everywhere, wherever you look, manipulation rearing it's head.
An interesting story about how this routine was discovered. If only all the record companies had recorded Top of the Pops. Now I see what it going on in this routine with the ladies looking like they are a visual representation of fire with the costumes and the heavy moves, especially my Flick which I would call this a literal routine as the ladies try to be like a fireball. I prefer Black Night as my Deep Purple song of 1971, but it is nice to see that this routine still exists today.
Pan's People dancing to real rock music once again. Always a treat and a pleasurable experience to see how the music will be interpreted by the group. And the performance here is indeed a treat, that we can still enjoy despite the limitation and obstacle of not being in colour. The routine itself has a ‘go-go-ish’ and hippy style feeling for it, which is always to be enjoyed. But a style, I feel, that would soon disappear from the Pan’s People repertoire. Of course, with so many routines now lost to us, we cannot say for certain how many dances after ‘Fireball’ would be of this type, but my own personal feeling is that Flick was moving forward in her art of choreography and adopting other styles, including more literal ones. And the ‘hippyish’ form found here would be vanishing soon, much like it would do in the general music world in the early 1970s. A great loss for devotees of the style, such as myself.
Unlike other routines of a similar era, which are very watchable despite being in black and white, this dance to Fireball is an exception. The loss of not being able to view this in colour is very noticeable. This is one for which full colour availability would have heightened the visual pleasure enormously. We can only surmise how the costumes would have looked, but it is probable that they were flame-coloured, so that when we see the full extent of them being waved, shaken and thrown about in glorious effect, it would have looked like each of the girls were a raging inferno. Surely! Or even like a Phoenix rising from the flame, given the feathered nature of the outfits, on top of the minimal bikinis and obligatory boots worn underneath. From the very moment Pan’s come into view there is Dee Dee at the front with her right leg cocked at a jaunty angle, the head and body shaking begins. The entire routine is like a firebrand, particularly towards the end with many quick camera cuts taking our eyes here, there and everywhere. With the team split into three for the most part, in a similar way as ‘Let’s See Action’, noticeably with Ruth and Andi paired together again. And Flick seemingly reviving her vibrant head-tossing efforts from that earlier number. Babs, Dee Dee and Louise perform together also like before with many sharp and engrossing moves, as if in a chorus to the other players. The part showing the three of them around the 01.35 mark is particularly entrancing, as the three seem to have abandoned themselves to their fiery fate. All so very enjoyable- but how we would love to see this in colour. The absence of which can only detract from the routine overall. Damn the BBC once again!
Heavy metal, hard rock, or any where in between. How should one categorise this kind of music as recorded by Deep Purple? A kind of music I was very much enthused by in the later 1970s or so. Did I ever see Deep Purple? Checking my list of old concerts witnessed by me, I find that I did not. But had a wonderful Spring of 1980 seeing various constituent parts of the band, such as Rainbow, Gillan and Whitesnake in various venues around London. And also that same spring attending on Black Sabbath at the Hammersmith Odeon. And I would state that I have always preferred the Sabs rougher and more down-to-earth approach to rock music from the Purple’s smoother and more ethereal style.
Viewing this piece over and over, I find it difficult to decide who to favour as the top dancer here. All produce praiseworthy efforts. As soon as Ruth appears here she enchants me. Do I use that word too often? Perhaps, but it is the word that works best- especially for her puckered mouth at 00.14. Indeed, it feels personal! Flick is a delights as a dancer always, and here she does exactly that from about 00.29 until over layed with Andi and a puckering Ruth yet again. The pairing of Ruth and Andi works wonders another time about 00.39 as they open up to send this viewer delirious! And Flick reaches another height about 01.28 as she seems to re- encapsulate her divine performance form ‘Let’s See Action’. And with the burnt offerings of Babs, Dee Dee and Louise about 02.00, now resigned to their own personal Inferno for Eternity- and performing human semaphore at the same time. And then so on until all of Pan’s are seemingly consumed by the raging fires of their mortal doom, as the quick cutting camerawork does not allow us to linger on any one dancer’s ultimate demise. And does that not look like the sun right at the end- 02.32? Oh! Choices to be made, whom shall I rescue from a fiery hell. Yes, I know!
DOTD- Ruth- It feels like she is on fire here- for me alone. My own risen Phoenix. Of fire and brimstone. Sulphurous.
The dance 8.5/10. If this was in colour it would scream out more. And I feel the routine loses a little urgency towards the end. But a great watch always.
The dancing marks are now-
Andi- 6, Flick- 5, Ruth- 5, Dee Dee- 4, Louise- 4, Babs- 2. ( 26 routines )
Thanks for yet another interesting (and enthusiastic) review. I think that your reviews greatly enhance this section! It's so refreshing to read how much you enjoy these routines which I would still count among the first phase of PP on TOTP - the pre-Cherry era.
Heavy metal, hard rock, or any where in between. How should one categorise this kind of music as recorded by Deep Purple?
If my memory serves me right we called it hard rock at the time. I don't think the term heavy metal was coined yet - or if it was, it wasn't very widespread.
Thanks for the kind words, Vin. I hope my reviews make an interesting read.
You know, watching all the extant videos again for my reviews, I am beginning to think that this whole period, the three years of 1970, 1971 and 1972 might be my favourite period of all the TOTPs dances. I hope my enthusiasm will encourage others to see these routines in a new light.
Also, when looking at the updated marks for the dances you have posted. I am surprised that some of the- later- dances that I like, and will give good reviews for, are not very popular with many others on here. I hope I can make a difference to them in my marking.