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Rainbow - Long Live Rock & Roll CD (album) cover

LONG LIVE ROCK & ROLL

Rainbow

 

Prog Related

3.40 | 174 ratings

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The Whistler
Prog Reviewer
4 stars (Long Live 4.5!)

Long Live Rock 'n Roll is usually the kind of album I hate; it has NO diversity, whatsoever. So how come I can listen to it three times in a row without batting an eye? Well, there IS a kind of vague diversity to it. Buried underneath the metal there's some blooz and there's some Eastern crap, and there's that gorgeous closer, but the keyword there was buried. Anyone who doesn't have patience for Blackmore, Dio and company will never bother sifting through the metal for those chunks. Which is actually a sin.

I have a hard time choosing a best song (every song on side one is winner, and a solid chunk of two too), but it's hard to beat the title track. That bouncy little riff 'n chorus is infectious, the walking guitar-lines behind the verses are ingenious, and the solo starts out all Chuck Berry-ish, but then takes a turn for the classic Blackmore-ish. Brilliant rocker, and such a nice sentiment too (I might have stolen that last bit from somewhere...anyway, read on).

But it doesn't stop there! "Lady of the Lake" is just a fun number. It's another medieval styled rocker (a little funky this time), but it's catchy as hell; if it don't get you singing about Lake Ladies, nothing will. Oh, and, the solo is beautiful. We toss in a (very) little variety with "L.A. Connection," a thumping, downbeat number with a great, bluesy solo. Okay, so maybe I'm a little biased, 'cause I always love a hometown song, but can you blame Dio for trying to break from the Dragons and Dungeons rock a little? He wails but good on that one. Great plinky-plink pianer too.

The epic this time is "Gates of Babylon," is yet another "Kashmir" styled song. Only much faster than either of its predecessors, and it's a REAL epic; there's a nice keyboard introduction and a couple of other little moving parts to it (okay, so there's a dip in the middle of the guitar solo, but hey, the tempo changes, and besides, it's real atmospheric and cool). Fantastic, extended solo, the orchestra is moody, the violin at the end is perfect, the Arabic feel is flawless, the lyrics are as dorky as sin, what more could you possibly want?

However, just when you think they've thrown all they could at you, the second side starts with ANOTHER class act rocker. Never mind that "Kill the King is both catchy and headbangin'; the solo is enough to make your skin crawl (in a good way, mind). It's just so fast, so twisted, how the crap does he do half that stuff? You can't even air guitar to it properly! And dig the tumbling drums that serve as backing. Fantastic coda, sounds like Dio is giving birth through his head. And the lyrics? They're about chess! I swear it's true, read 'em more carefully next time.

The next two numbers are a tiny bit of a let down, but headbangers shouldn't notice. "The Shed (Subtle)" is a somewhat mindless, albeit tight and thumping, rocker. So nice, if not finger flashing, soloing, but just listen to Ronnie; it's clear they were having some fun with that one (and the title? Get out). "Sensitive to Light" is an upbeat pop metal number with downbeat lyrics. Not the best melody, but never mind that, Blackmore's miniature solo is, quite literally, gorgeous.

Of course, after two fairly straightforward metal numbers, I wasn't sure where the Rainbows were gonna take us. But "Rainbow Eyes" is an AMAZING number. I really mean it. It's a ballad, and it's sung by Dio, and Dio...Dio sounds like a real live human being, rather than an elf king. Terrifying, isn't it? The lyrics are decent and everything; I can get real emotion from this. Good, watery guitar, and nice use of the recorder too. Not a second too long.

Look, you've got the voice and fingers of the genre working their guts out (not to mention some great session men, eh Cozy? The drums are killer), and it WORKS. The production is crisp, the rockers are fast and tight (compare the title track to the studio "Man on the Silver Mountain"), the epic is sufficiently layered and interesting (remember "Stargazer's" endlessness?), and all the numbers are played loudly and aggressively (just...wow).

Well, except for "Rainbow Eyes" of course. But again, as good as the earlier ballady stuff was, it's here I can really feel for the song. And it was, in fact, this song that prompted me to raise the rating to "masterpiece." After all, it gave us JUST enough variety, JUST enough sentiment, and what's more, the album just feels so damned complete now. I know it's short, but I can't think of a thing to add to it. It's fully functional, from start to finish, from the opening drum beats to the fading recorders. I know I can't rate it higher, due to the couple of "okay" tracks, and the overall lack of diversity (it was almost a four, and it'll never be higher than a solid point-five), but hey, who needs that when you've got WIZARDS?!?

Seriously though, it's clear that by Long Live, they'd learned to milk the formula for all it was worth. It's really a pity that Dio left the band right now (and who can blame him; Ritchie had already fired/taken over the role of the bassist). Oh well, hell of a swan song he left us with, one of the best I ever heard. Godspeed elf king...Godspeed.

But let's not focus on that. Instead, let's remember that this might be the finest heavy metal album ever recorded. And I'm serious when I say that. Pick it up if you value the genre, or artsy pretentiousness, or just really, really freakishly good guitar playing. Because it's all that. And Dio.

The Whistler | 4/5 |

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