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Blackmore's Night - Shadow Of The Moon CD (album) cover

SHADOW OF THE MOON

Blackmore's Night

 

Prog Folk

3.21 | 81 ratings

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Kotro
Prog Reviewer
2 stars Kitsch

Man's man Ritchie Blackmore wearing tights is an image one would have trouble imagining in the heydays of Deep Purple. Ritchie Blackmore playing lutes and acoustic guitar and executing 500 year- old compositions is a bit easier to picture, if one has paid close attention to his work with Rainbow. One thing that would be taken almost as granted is Ritchie next to a blonde bombshell. And this one can sing, too. Meet Candice Night, singer, muse, and half of the band's name. This odd couple decided to embark on a Renaissance Faire of their own, to mixed results. Pick up thy goblet of spiced wine and sit down for the ride.

The album is opened by the title track, Shadow of the Moon, and as the song kicks in you know you're in for a. delicate ride. Oriental sounds opens for synth drenched melody, featuring some faint power chords and delicate guitar licks. Candice Night then begins to sing, her voice gentle and soothing, quite pleasant but nothing remarkable. The track doesn't change too much, following a standard pop format. It is in no way a bombastic opener, but it is really interesting stuff. Next track, The Clock Ticks On does not fall flat either. It is carried by a grandiose opening with trumpets and featuring some interesting use of strings and woodwind. The melody is clearly something of days long gone. The sung build-up to the chorus is a bit too dull, with Candice singing in a quite neutral tone over an acoustic guitar, but the chorus is somewhat more interesting. Nice finish, but again, no surprises here. The next song, Be Mine Tonight, is a real let down after the first two. A lovey- dovey ballad with some really annoying tambourine that really takes your attention from the nice orchestration in the background. Thank God it's short. Play Minstrel Play is another good one. Again the medieval mood returns, vocals are quite good, benefiting from a male chorus. Great flute and percussion, and Ritchie's gentle acoustic guitar strumming. Pretty but not very exciting in the first section, it all changes somewhere in the middle, when the pace gets suddenly quicker and we are treated to a great duo of flute and acoustic guitar by two awesome virtuosos: that's right, Ian Anderson joins Ritchie Blackmore for this one and the result couldn't be better! Definitely a highlight of the album. Now, I was never a big fan of the Renaissance song Ocean Gypsy, or, in fact, of the whole Scheherazade and Other Stories album. Come to think of it, I'm not a big fan of Renaissance at all, which probably haves something to do with me grinding my teeth and covering my ears every time Annie Haslam opens her mouth. This cover however, despite not salvaging the track entirely, somewhat makes it slightly more bearable than the original. It is, if anything, a bit too long and anti- climatic after the thrill of the previous track. Minstrel Hall is an instrumental piece driven by the acoustic guitar, with the accompaniment of flute and tambourine, quite pleasant, and what I feel is one of the good trademarks of Blackmore's Night on this and following albums. Magical World is yet another one of those delicate old-world sounding ballads carried by acoustic guitar and Miss. Night's vocals. There's that damn tambourine again. Good acoustic guitar work, but once more, nothing really mind-blowing. At this point my mind begins to wonder and my head begins to drop. Still I wasn't waiting for the wake-up call that is the next track. My mind wonders as to what the hell they were thinking with Writing on the Wall? It features a terrible dance-club electric drum beat, more commonly found on 90's one-hit wonders than on this kind of effort. It's so bad I can't believe it. What hurts me most is that Ritchie actually decided to take out the Strat for this one, and does produce the most noteworthy electric guitar solo in the album on this track - but it all just sounds so out of place. I can't help but thinking it would have been a great track if they had kept the guitar but dropped the terrible electronic percussion. A disaster, and definitely a song that should have been scratched from the album and buried deep. Renaissance Faire finally gets us back on track after the previous interlude. It pick up from the second track, featuring once more interesting choirs, wind instruments and tasteful string arrangements. And the chorus is really, really catchy, in a good way. Very entertaining. Memmingen follows, another short instrumental not unlike the previous Minstrel Hall, showcasing Blackmore's talents on acoustics. No Second Chance is another attempt at a modern sound, but one that works out much better than the previous. The Strat is back for this one, this time less obvious. The drums sound once again machine-made, but at least they are not as horrid as on Writing on the Wall. Another delicate ballad, it features a nice choir (almost sounding like a Mellotron) and solid vocals by Candice. The structure, however, remains pretty much pop standard - a bit out of place with the rest of the album, but not unpleasant in any way. Mond Tanz gets us back to the melody from the opening track, this time in the form of an acoustic guitar display featuring some interesting percussion and flute accompaniment - Blackmore really seems to be hitting the right keys with the instrumentals, this being another nice one. Spirit of the Sea is yet another ballad, not unlike the previous ones, filled with cheap synths and water sound samples. By now we realize that Miss Night displays a very small range and a very neutral, but pretty nice tone. It is one of the unexpected charms in this album, the natural and pure voice that we easily embrace despite all its shortcomings. Greensleeves is the classic Tudor period song here given a 20th century treatment. Brave move, as it could have resulted in another disaster instead of the interesting take that resulted. Ethereal choirs, a plethora of guitars, some rock n'roll chops and that 15th century melody - I guess we all love a bit of kitsch now and then. The album ends with another cover song, this time of Wish You Were Here by dance-pop/hillbilly act Rednex. And, just like previous covers, it is another improvement over the original. Features some really teasing vocals and delicate Strat playing.

Overall, a bit of a disappointment salvaged only by a few good tracks. It is too long an album, with few points of real interest and often monotonous takes. Production sounds rough, the arrangements too forced and fake, but that's a disease that afflicted many albums in the 90's. The more modern-sounding tracks sound awfully out of place, one of them actually sounding awful on its own. The instrumentals are all fairly well composed, but the rest just suffers from poor production, forced instrumentation (that dreadful tambourine!) and, if you're in to that, very poor lyrics. It's as prog as Amazing Blondel, so definitely not something that will tingle the fancy of the average PA user. Fans of Blackmore should definitely check it, as well as those with an interest in medieval/renaissance melodies or mood in modern music. This is a poor album, but as a project, Blackmore's Night showcase some hidden talents that will make future albums much more interesting.

Kotro | 2/5 |

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