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Rainbow - Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow CD (album) cover

RITCHIE BLACKMORE'S RAINBOW

Rainbow

 

Prog Related

3.65 | 189 ratings

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Raff
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars In 1974, guitar wizard Ritchie Blackmore left Deep Purple, disgusted by the funk and soul influences that bassist Glenn Hughes had starting injecting in the band's sound. Then he teamed up with four-fifths of American band Elf (who had supported DP in their last tour of the US), changed their name in Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow - just to make it clear that it was his band - and proceeded to record their first, self-titled album - an excellent example of mid-paced, melodic hard rock with the added punch of Blackmore's brilliant guitar work and Ronnie James Dio's awesome pipes.

While lacking the majestic, epic quality of its follow-up, the legendary "Rising", "Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow" contains several songs that quickly became mainstays of the band's live performances. Opener "Man on the Silver Mountain" features a lazy, almost hypnotic guitar-over-keyboards riff, and introduces the listener to Dio's powerful, commanding vocal delivery, surprisingly melodic for those who only know him from his heavy metal days with Sabbath and his eponymous band. As this album shows, the iron-lunged frontman would have made a great prog vocalist, had he chosen to go that way. "Catch the Rainbow, a wistful, mellotron-soaked, bluesy ballad with a heartfelt vocal performance from Dio, is pure heaven for Blackmore fans, especially in the numerous, extended live versions currently available. In a similar vein is the laid-back, Oriental-themed "Temple of the King"; while the heavier "Sixteenth Century Greensleves" exemplifies Blackmore's love of anything Renaissance, as well as pointing the way to what was going to be the musical and lyrical content of "Rising".

While the remaining tracks are not on the same level, they nevertheless make for a satisfying listening experience - with the possible exception of the rather nondescript, run-of-the-mill rocker "If You Don't Like Rock'n'Roll". Interestingly, the album includes two covers, Quatermass' "Black Sheep of the Family" (remarkably close to the original, though further enhanced by Dio's vocals), and an instrumental version of The Yardbirds' "Still I'm Sad", which closes the album in style.

Though Rainbow has often been dismissed as a Deep Purple clone, there are very few (if any) hints of Blackmore's former band on this record. The strength and clarity of Ritchie's guitar is one of the most impressive features of the album, blending with the other instruments and complementing Dio's singing, instead of engaging in wild duels with the keyboards (or even the vocals) as it happened in Deep Purple. If I had to describe ".. Rainbow" in a few words, I would say it sounds amazingly disciplined in comparison to the almost unbridled fury of the likes of "Burn" or "Machine Head".

As the previous reviewers have duly noted, the prog quotient of this album is definitely not as high as its follow-up. "Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow" is nevertheless a musically and vocally excellent effort that can easily appeal to most prog fans, especially those whose roots lie in the classic era of our beloved genre.

Raff | 4/5 |

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