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Rainbow - Rising CD (album) cover




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4.19 | 472 ratings

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Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Chills, Thrills and Bellyaches

The sacrificial band of the debut (Elf) had mainly been sacked, and the original core of Blackmore and Dio came up with one of the most stunning pieces of rock music since Child in Time.

For this is Heavy Rock with keyboards - music at the roots of Heavy Metal with a strong foundation in the Blues but with far more swagger than swing, and pretentious aspirations towards Classical music and Progressive Rock, but without the structuring of the former or the musical boundary breaking of the latter.

You won't find any Prog here, of course - but Stargazer comes very close with its epic themes, and there is something about the way the band come together for this track that has that certain something.

What you will also find on this album is an awful lot of filler - like a rather bland starter to a meal with an unsatisfying main course - but a scrumptious desert that you'll keep coming back to, and coffee that doesn't just give you a lift, but jet-propels you into the night.

Dio Mk I

Tarot Woman opens with a one and a half minute flurrying, phasing keyboard run from new guy, and relative unknown, Tony Carey. This sets the scene for Blackmore to gradually crank up the volume on a menacing single-note rhythm that suddenly explodes into the main, driving riff.

Then the unmistakable tones of Ronnie James Dio knock you for six - the man could be singing about anything, the power of his vocal chords, the perfect intonation and the quality of the tones he produces are simply astonishing, no matter how many times you hear them.

A great opening, and great sound to a song that is, in itself, fairly unremarkable. The melodies are strong but forgettable, the key changes reasonably dynamic, and the performances driven with an almost unheard of precision in rock music of the time, but I find that the choppy drumming removes flow in an almost surgical manner, and the aimless noodling on both guitar and keyboards gets a bit tiring.

Run With The Wolf sounds a bit like an outtake from a Mark II Purple album. Again, all the elements are carefully in place, but the precision drumming does make the song feel rather cut up. Naturally, when you focus on the great Mr Dio's voice, the shivers run up and down the spine, but again, the song is pretty unremarkable, and Blackmore's soloing insipid. His interjections to Dio's vocal line have a decent loose and expressive feel, though, and the last minute of the song is significantly better than ther rest, as the band get into a groove.

Starstruck has a lot more groove going on - the change in gear is almost tangible as the energy of this song pours out at you, the drums flowing decently, and every change feeling like it's a part of the ongoing musical narrative rather than some afterthought. The slide guitar solo enters more interesting territory as Blackmore experiments with the possiblities of using the slide, and moves away from pentatonic noodling into something more melodic.

We're back to the choppy ploddy stuff for Do You Close Your Eyes - and it's worth nothing that we've heard little from Tony Carey apart from atmospherics, and absolutely nothing from fellow new guy Jimmy Bain... and we're still hearing little. Small wonder that Blackmore continually changed the line-up, as there are none of the personality players found in his previous band(s).

Now for the big event.

From the opening phased drums of Stargazer, you know you're in for something rather special. All the ingredients of the previous tracks are still here - inconsequential keyboards and bass, ploddy, precise drums, crunching power chords, and the majestic tones of Dio - but the overall feel has suddenly changed, like an aura of magic has descended on the group.

The verse lines are long and strung out, with decorative instrumental lines and sumptuous keyboard washes concentrating the mind on the moment rather than the journey - but Eastern flavoured motifs spring out of the guitar and keyboards, and suddenly some of Dio's rather nonsensical lyrics suddenly take on a life of their own and begin to make sense.

Then Blackmore winds out a perfect concoction of Eastern sounds, thanks to flurries around the harmonic minor scale, and microtonal note-bending and a not insubstantial amount of bluff - although here, again, the Rainbow magic is at work, making a mysterious sense out of the bluff. Some very tasteful dive-bombs later, and an even more impassioned vocal section follows, the vibrato in Dio's voice almost brass-like in quality, the spat out rhythmic patterns and note-bending giving more feel to the music than any note- flurry or technical display possibly could.

Underneath, there's the vaguely dissatisfying feeling that this is just a two-chord jam, in the manner of a psychedelic band - but, for a Hard Rock act, this is an act that's Hard to follow.

And it has to be said that Lights in Black does a good job to start with - it feels like part II of Stargazer somehow, uptempo and driving fast and hard, ex Jeff Beck group member Cozy Powell putting in a thumping battery on the double bass drums. This is quite an exit, and Blackmore and Carey's arpeggio duet puts me in mind of some of the duets he had with Jon Lord.

5 minutes of this feels a bit long though, especially when Blackmore goes off on a noodle trip. He fortunately brings it back to something a lot more melodic later - and I recognise the melody line as the same one Riot later used on the title track of the album Narita. There's lots to like about the ensuing duetting and soloing, and, of course, there's more Dio to look forward to - but nothing new is stated musically.

In Summary

Side 2 of the vinyl (the last two tracks) are well worth owning this album for, if you enjoy the heavier side of rock - although I'd argue that Stargazer is a song for all). The first side is second-rate hard rock, though, and the entire album is just the Ritchie Blackmore and Ronnie Dio show, not an excursion into experimentation and improvisation by a great Prog Rock band.

Ultimately an energetic rock album that would be unremarkable if it were not for the tight precision in performance, the legacy of Blackmore, Stargazer, and above all, the astonishing vocalisations of one Ronnie James Dio.

In case I'd forgotten to mention him... ;o)

Certif1ed | 3/5 |


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