Rainbow will soon return to the world`s stages, and I hope there will be an album somewhere in there too. If there is, I hope it will be received better than the very first album reviewed by New Musical Express in 1975. The reviewer was not entirely convinced. Personally, I think it was (and is) a great album even if some of the songs here were even better on their later live album.
Ritchie Blackmore`s Rainbow
By Tony Stewart
When a musician (in this case Ritchie Blackmore) decides to leave a band (in this case, Deep Purple), presumably because of musical differences, you`d expect him to adopt an approach dissimilar from that of his former band.
But not our Ritchie.
This is the same kind of metal rock, the lineup is similar (Ronnie James Dio, vocals; Gary Driscoll, drums; Craig Gruber, bass; and Mickey Lee Souls, assorted keyboards) and even the packaging sniffs of a Purple influence.
The only significant difference I can discern between the two are that (1) Rainbow are not as accomplished musicians as Purple, and (2) their breadth of vision isn`t as great.
In fact this album is duller than a March morning.
The majority of the cuts are the same old riff stews; admittedly they do it capably enough, but that hardly seems sufficient.
Out of the nine tracks, there are only two which are worth complimentary remarks. Those are the gentle melodic “Catch The Rainbow”, and the acoustically based “Temple Of The King”.
The rest are just cliched structures, such as the pounding “Man On The Silver Mountain” and “Sixteenth Century Greensleeves” where Blackmore and Dio reclaim a Uriah Heep riff which they`d borrowed from Purple originally.
And even the inclusion of The Hat`s instrumental re-working of the Yardbird`s “Still I`m Sad” does nothing for me at all.
Besides their lack of imagination in the composing department, with seven originals from the pens of The Hat and Ronnie James, the band lacks any real feeling.
With the exception of Dio.
Now he is a good singer who has a lot of passion, good phrasing and pitch (particularly on “Temple”) and puts a considerable amount of effort into the songs.
Whereas The Mad Axeman and Gruber merely illustrate their technical manoeuverability, Souls (despite the name) is recording in the studio next door and you rarely hear him, and Driscoll is what you`d describe as solid.
But it is a group album. The Hat keeps a low profile, filling out songs and taking the occasional lead, sounding, particularly on “Rainbow” and “Temple”, like Peter Green, but there are no real instances of inspired madness.
So in conclusion, all I can say is that they`re an imitation of Purple, and not a particularly good one at that.
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This number of New Musical Express also contains articles/interviews with these people: Bryan Ferry (Roxy Music), James Stewart, Chapman-Whitney Streetwalkers, Roger McGuinn, The Selling of Reading, Kursaal Flyers, Loudon Wainwright, Leo Kottke, Isley Brothers.
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