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




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3.47 | 237 ratings

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3 stars It was never going to be easy to follow up such an undisputed masterpiece as "Rising". Therefore, no wonder Rainbow's third studio album is widely considered as a sort of poor relation, or even a half-baked effort. Personally, though I've always had quite a liking for this record, I can't fail to recognise it's nowhere as good as its predecessor, and much less cohesive to boot. On the other hand, it does contain some tracks that rank among the band's best-ever compositions, and it's the last Rainbow album for a long time (in fact, until their final release, "Stranger In Us All") to have some relation to prog. After that, the band took a definitely more radio-friendly direction, which alienated a lot of fans (including myself).

A well-known fact about Rainbow is that they hardly ever recorded two albums in a row with the same line-up (with the exception of live albums, of course). "Long Live Rock'n'Roll" is no exception to the rule: gone are two-fifths of the line-up that recorded Rising (keyboardist Tony Carey and bassist Jimmy Bain), to be replaced respectively with David Stone and Bob Daisley (later with Ozzy Osbourne). The core members of the band are still Blackmore and iron-lunged singer Ronnie James Dio, flanked by the late, great Cozy Powell on drums. This trio of musicians share also all songwriting credits.

As a matter of fact, the main problem of LLRnR lies exactly with the songwriting: when it's good, it's really great - but when it isn't, then it can be somewhat hit-and-miss. This is clearly shown by tracks like "Lady of the Lake" or "Sensitive to Light" - pleasant enough to listen to, but not on a par with the best compositions of the album. Like "Do You Close Your Eyes" on "Rising", they are generic, nondescript hard rockers; while "LA Connection" and "The Shed" share the same nature of powerful mid-tempo songs dominated by Powell's sledgehammer drumming. Dio's voice is commanding as ever, but doesn't get the same opportunities to shine here as it did on "Rising". Both the anthemic title-track and the fast-paced forerunner of thrash metal that is "Kill the King" foreshadow the development of Dio's vocal style with Black Sabbath - less melody and more of an awesome roar. Blackmore's soloing is also not as inspired here as it was on the band's previous albums, though the various live albums recorded by the band in this period show a different story.

This leaves us with the record's two only actually prog-related tracks. The Middle Eastern-tinged "Gates of Babylon" (which some have unfairly called a "Kashmir" rip-off), a sinuous, keyboard- and orchestra-driven song features a dazzling guitar solo and epic, grandiloquent vocals. The orchestra also appears as the main backing of Dio's voice (this time, soft and almost understated) on the acoustic ballad "Rainbow Eyes" - a 7-minute-plus song that is quite uncharacteristic for the band (and therefore hated by many a fan), and harks back to "Stormbringer"'s beautiful "Soldier of Fortune".

After this album, Dio would leave Rainbow to join Black Sabbath and record the magnificent "Heaven and Hell". While Powell would stick for another album (the controversial "Down to Earth"), Stone and Daisley would be replaced by two veterans of the British rock scene, former Colosseum II keyboardist Don Airey, and none other than former Purple bassist Roger Glover. The band then embarked on a path which brought them commercial acclaim, but much less musical credibility. As to LLRnR, though it is indeed a more than pleasant listen, I would hesitate to give it more than 3.5 stars - so I will settle for 3, though "Gates of Babylon" and "Kill the King" alone would be worth the price of the album.

Raff | 3/5 |


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