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Rainbow - Rising CD (album) cover

RISING

Rainbow

 

Prog Related

4.16 | 357 ratings

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russellk
Prog Reviewer
5 stars Every lover of rock music ought to have this stunning album in their collection. And every fan of metal ought to listen to it regularly, reminding themselves of their genre's origins.

RAINBOW was the hard rock supergroup assembled by RITCHIE BLACKMORE after he left DEEP PURPLE in the mid 1970s. This was going to be bigger than purple - after all, a rainbow has all the colours. Their first eponymous album was disjointed though it showed promise, but this, their second album, is where everything came together. Every member of the band was at the height of their powers, and in a mere 33 minutes each band member has ample space to contribute their own genius. The superb songwriting on this record deserves to be highlighted: a blend of short, sharp rockers with not a bloated note anywhere and three magnificent extended tracks. Frankly, this album almost serves as a 'Greatest Hits' for RAINBOW, so uniformly excellent is their work here.

The first side of the album begins with 'Tarot Woman', an extended keyboard introduction building energy, leading to a dramatic, above-average rocker. RONNIE JAMES DIO is perhaps an acquired taste - I found his distinctive exaggerated tremolo hard to take initially - but it is suited to the semi-operatic style he adopts and the storytelling lyrics that characterise this album. COZY POWELL lays the strongest of foundations with his double bass drum attack, and BLACKMORE has never sounded better. The intensity drops a little with 'Run Like The Wolf' and 'Starstruck', but these songs are better than anything DEEP PURPLE was cobbling together in the mid-70s. And certainly better than the KISS-inspired pap masquerading as rock. 'Do You Close Your Eyes' is this album's little mistake, a short love song in somewhat bad taste. For those of you who demand perfection before you award five stars, subtract a star.

Side Two, however, is a level above anything hard rock had hitherto brought to the table, and must be listened to repeatedly at maximum volume. 'Stargazer' is, simply put, one of the most influential tracks in rock. However, I'd like to consider Side Two as one unit - after all, 'A Light in the Black' continues the story begun in 'Stargazer' (a wizard tries to learn the secret of flight, enslaving men to help him build a tower. He dies in the attempt, setting the slaves free). 'A Light in the Black' tells the story of one man's journey home. So, here we have a common progressive theme (fantasy) and the music is most certainly prog. From the rollicking drum prelude through the guitar motifs and the astonishing variety of vocal hooks, 'Stargazer' grabs your attention immediately. It is, however, the gargantuan keyboard lead in the chorus (with the vocal responding) that gives this song its mystical flavour. There's a central guitar solo - easily the best thing to come from BLACKMORE'S fingers, you forget such naivety as 'Smoke on the Water's riff - which builds into a series of rising notes that bring us back into the narrative of the song.

The final two minutes feature DIO at his very best, with a series of rising exclamations ('My eyes are bleeding!' 'There's a rainbow rising!') with the band at their bombastic best, backed by a full orchestra into an extended fadeout. I wish I could listen to this again for the first time, so breathtaking did I find it in 1976.

'A Light in the Black' is a much faster track, sounding for all the world like an ALLMAN BROTHERS BAND workout, something from 'Live at Fillmore East' perhaps, but with a much heavier, driving beat. The central section of the song is a series of frenetic soloing from keyboardist and guitarist, an over-the-top celebration of freedom that leaves the listener breathless. A final rock-n-roll ending - the boys deserve it - and the album is over far too soon.

This is how they made music back then. It's an album that retains every bit of its lustre three decades after it was recorded. An essential element in the history of rock, 'Rainbow Rising' is one of the most impressive albums of the 1970s and perhaps the best of its year.

russellk | 5/5 |

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