Rainbow Rising (2CD)
The second Rainbow album from Deep Purple guitarist Ritchie Blackmore, and probably the first as a band in their own right. The first album was recorded with US rock band Elf, laid down while Blackmore was still in Deep Purple. This album was both as an excuse to record the Quatermas track “Black Sheep Of The Family” and its medieval / classical sound to contrast the funk direction Purple were taking at the time.
Rising, however, was a full blown rock album showing Blackmore at his best. Firing Elf and retaining only vocalist Ronnie Dio, Blackmore hired drummer Cozy Powell, keyboard player Tony Carey and bassist Jimmy Bain, the result was a monster of a rock album.
Released in 1976 it opens with ‘Tarot Woman’, a long keyboard intro before guitar and drums again.
Often keeping the bass low, ‘Run With The Wolf’ has a strong bass riff while Blackmore plays a mean solo. ‘Lady Starstruck’ is more of a boogie, with Powell playing a solid rhythm and Dio providing some solid vocals. The solo is a standout, because it is simple, catchy and adds a touch of slide. ‘Do You Close Your Eyes’ is another rock classic.
Onto side two and this is where you’ll find two of the greatest rock songs ever laid to vinyl. Highlighting Blackmore’s neo-classical heavy metal style perfectly, ‘Stargazer’ is 8 minutes of rock perfection, intricate interplay between all five members, and a sound bolstered by the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra . Searing guitar work and wonderful song writing.
The final track is where you will find the individual musicianship blow you away. Even those already fans of Blackmore, Powell or Carey will find this some of their best work individually, never mind together. Powell’s drumming is thunderous, intense and metronomic throughout the 8 minutes of ‘A Light In The Black’, and the instrumental break is blistering guitar and keyboard solo and interplay that surpasses anything Blackmore achieved before or since. Fine production from Martin Birch that is remastered well here.
Large parts of this album were recorded very quickly, so while there is the odd line spare here and there, the sessions were short on alternate versions. However CD1 is made up with an alternate mix that found its way onto the original CD issue. A level change here and there, keyboards slightly higher, a delay in the intro to ‘Tarot Woman’ giving a longer keyboard intro, an extra drum roll here and there.
Disc 2 features the original rough mix, which has the orchestra higher on Stargazer and a full minute keyboard intro too, amongst other things. There’s also a live tour rehearsal of Stargazer.
One of Britain’s best hard rock albums, certainly Blackmore, Dio, Powell and Carey at their best, and a decent package too. Classic rock really doesn’t get any better than this.
Joe Geesin (www.joegeesin.com)
We searched for more on Rainbow, but sadly all we could find a stores or the occasional artist page, apart that is, from Richie Blackmore’s polished site sorry we could not add a more balanced choice.
Album Review – RAINBOW – ‘Rainbow Rising’ (2CD)