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[Fan Site]

Reviewed:
  1. Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow (1975)
  2. Rising (1976)
  3. Live in Europe (1976)
  4. Long Live Rock'n'Roll (1978)
  5. Down to Earth (1979)
  6. Difficult to Cure (1981)
  7. Straight Between the Eyes (1982)
  8. Bent out of Shape (1983)
Remarks:

Country: UK


Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow (1975)

When Deep Purple practically disbanded in 1974, Ritchie went on to form a band with most of the former members of another band, Elf, which was mostly known for its frontman, Dio. Rainbow is one of the few instances where someone from a legendary band successfully created another legendary band. The hard rock Raibow began here is very different from Deep Purple, though. It is guitar-driven, simpler, and much more powerful. The album, however, falls short of the maximum score because it is quite uneven: there are at least three songs that would not hurt the release if dropped. This leaves six great pieces, such as "Man on the Silver Mountain" (which they played at just about every concert in the late seventies), "Catch the Rainbow" (one of the most moving ballads), and "The Temple of the King" (an anthem that every teenager in my school seemed to know and like).

Verdict: a worthy addition to any hard rock collection.

 

Rising (1976)

Here's one of the perfect releases in hard rock. From the cover picture, to the compositions and arrangements, and finally to the delivery, this reeks of professionalism and talent. This is the strongest Rainbow line, with Cozy Powell providing the drumming equivalent to Dio's powerful vocals. Magic and wizards float throughout the long complex songs which manage to clock at 8 minutes without boring the listener for a second. Much more refined than any other album Rainbow ever recorded, "Rising" offers two of the best known songs - "Stargazer" and "Light in the Black."

Verdict: a classic.

 

Live in Europe (1976)

The official "On Stage" from the same period sounds anemic compared to this double CD that was recently released. The "Rising" lineup works their magic live on stage and the song selection showcases the band in all their fury (well, fine, "Mistreated" probably does not fit this description). This is one of the few recordings that features a live performance of "Stargazer" and this alone should be enough to convince you to get it. Naturally, the album opens with "Kill the King" (is there a Rainbow concert release that does not have this one?) It must have been quite a treat to see this formation live. Pity I was three years old back then.

Verdict: an excellent concert, if this is your sort of thing.

 

Long Live Rock'n'Roll (1978)

The last of the releases with Dio behind the microphone. Although not as strong as the other two, this album is much MUCH better than what Rainbow would produce next. Some songs could have easily been on "Rising" but there is also quite a bit of filling here. Besides the popular title song (which I detest), there are three other songs that everybody knows. "Kill the King" is one of the most covered (by metal bands) classics ever. There isn't anything the covers have that wasn't in the original in the first place. The persistent leitmotiff and the pounding double-bass gallop compete for attention with Dio's unmistakably strong vocals. "Rainbow Eyes" is very moving and enchanting ballad (one of the first songs I heard that did not have drums in it). Finally, the long "Gates of Babylon" explores Blackmore's favorite Arabic world whose music mixes with modern rock quite well.

Verdict: although not on par with the first two albums, get this before other Rainbow releases.

 

Down to Earth (1979)

After Dio left, Ritchie found Bonnet to replace him - a mistake very much like the decision to replace Gillan with Coverdale/Hughes. Except Rainbow did not change the sound to fit the vocals which makes it even less tolerable. An entirely forgettable album which manages to sound cold and wooden even by 70s standards. Some stupid love songs more than offset the generally strong musicianship found in "Eyes of the World" or "Lost in Hollywood." Unfortunately (and despite sporting two hits) the album does not have much else to offer. Still, it is much better than most of the other hard rock crap that came out during this period.

Verdict: the gasping of a dying inspiration, still some strength left.

 

Difficult to Cure (1981)

So Bonnet's rasping did not suit the music, but does Turner's do? No! I wish they had learned from the Rainbow debacle that this guy's operatic approach does not work for hard rock (maybe progressive instead) before they stuck him in Purple (not that it matters, the band was dead at the time anyway). Adding Glover to play the bass brought his trademark hit-writing skills to Rainbow. Unfortunately, it also destroyed the coherence of the band. This album is so poppish, it is hard to believe Ritchie was part of it. Looking at the song list, there's hardly a piece I remember well enough to whistle. The lineup is just as bad live as in the studio, with the drummer and singer looking like glam stars rather than hard rockers. Not surprisingly, fans of the latter Rainbow can't stand their earlier work, the exact reverse of my opinion.

Verdict: I wouldn't rush to buy this one.

 

Straight Between the Eyes (1982)

The 1981 lineup actually manages to improve a tiny bit but not too much. Rondinelli is annoying as hell, there just isn't any imagination in his drumming. He is technically proficient but does not have a style of his own (which is Powell's strong suit). Turner has toned down a bit but his singing reminds me of women vocalists too much, though not ones like Doro, who sounds manlier than he ever will. Again, hard rock gives center stage to pop, with some touches of glam. Way too uninspiring and forgettable. "Eyes of Fire" could have been a good song if played by the "Rising" lineup.

Verdict: a teeny-weeny bit better than the previous album.

 

Bent out of Shape (1983)

At this point, I was giving up on Rainbow but this album surprised me. Turns out, the band is capable of producing a decent piece of music. Although not a classic (the song structures are too flat), this release is quite hard rocking compared to the two mistakes before it. Who hasn't danced or done other things to "Can't Let You Go"? My favorite songs are, as usual, the fast-paced compositions like "Fire Dance" which happens to be a damn good one too. The strong aspect of the CD is the melody which is usual for Blackmore who manages to come up with the best tunes. Incidentally, Nightwish used "Snowman" in their "Oceanborn" album (the singing uses the motiff).

Verdict: the best of the latter Rainbows, has not been surpassed since.