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Blackmore's Night - Ghost Of A Rose CD (album) cover

GHOST OF A ROSE

Blackmore's Night

 

Prog Folk

3.28 | 54 ratings

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Kotro
Prog Reviewer
3 stars Formulaic

Following the artistic success that was Fires at Midnight (where the band finally found the formula for well-balanced medieval acoustic compositions and modern rock songs), Blackmore's Night returned with an album that, perhaps smartly, took few chances by not straying too far from that previously successful effort. But does than mean that Ghost of a Rose is a clone of Fires at Midnight? Well...

It certainly doesn't begin like one. The first track, Way To Mandalay, for starters, begins the album quite earily, before turning into a gentler ballad, nothing like the rock scorcher opener that was Written In The Stars on the previous album. It does feature some interesting synth work complemented by a back layer of Ritchie's Strat providing some riffs, and eventually a bit of solo doodling, not his most inspired effort. The folksy 3 Black Crows follows, switching off the electricity and resorting to more traditional instrumentation, like the lute, drums and all sorts of pipes. So far, nothing really exciting. Next up is the cover of Joan Baez's Diamonds And Rust. If there is one thing we can compliment Blackmore's Night for is the quality of their covers, usually best than the original. This was a brave choice, because unlike Ocean Gypsy, Self- Portrait and The Times They Are a-Changin', Diamonds And Rust is actually very good in its original form. Candice manages not to embarrass herself, partly by staying away from the temptation to try and sound like Baez. Ritchie's gentle strumming is obviously one of the great improvements from the original, and when he switches to electric, magic happens. Perhaps the electronic percussion heard on the background could be dispensed, but it does not in any way ruin the experience. Not a substitute for the original, it is nevertheless an excellent complement. The merrier Eastern-Europe sounding Cartouche carries the album traditional folk mood on. It's fast paced percussion and violin playing really counterbalance Candice's moody vocals. It's the first Blackmore's Night penned highlight of the album. The first part of Queen For A Day ensues, another gentler ballad supported by the acoustic guitar and Candice's vocals, with a hint of medieval woodwind in the chorus sections and the build-up to it. The second part of Queen For A Day is a small czardas-like instrumental, a format that Blackmore's Night explore so well, featuring a great acoustic guitar solo by the man in black, with sublime interplay with the violin. The next track, Ivory Tower begins quite cheasily, with the distant sound of a church bell and Gregorian choir introducing it, only to turn into another ballad, with the choir and bells returning for the chorus. It gets merrier towards the middle, featuring a very interesting instrumental section, only to return to the drowsy ballad it began with. Nur Eine Minute follows, an aptly named instrumental featuring a duet of acoustic guitar and cello, to which a faintly heard harpsichord joins in. Small, yet delightful. Next up is the title track. Like on previous efforts, Blackmore's Night go to great extents to make this track a good one and worthy of naming the album - Ghost Of A Rose certainly does not disappoint. The lush medieval intro to the song might give the impression of another bland ballad, but soon the orchestration (brilliant led by the cello) drop in just before Candice produces some of the more heartfelt vocals in the album. The chorus, specifically, is excellent. What starts as a ballad slowly builds up, without, however, turning into a violent rocker ? in that aspect it is quite a different beast from Fires At Midnight. Another highlight. Mr.Peagram's Morris And Sword ensues, another small folksy acoustic instrumental piece, making the bridge between the previous delicate highlight and the folksy highlight coming up next. The jiggy Loreley opens with several woodwinds and violins, backed by baseline that provided the fast paced rhythm of this quite entertaining song, easily a sing-along when played live. Where Are We Going From Here begins eerily, with the distant violin and the sound of wind giving it a gloomy feel. Candice's melancholic vocals and Ritchie's gentle acoustic don't exactly brighten the picture. And it's pretty much the same for another three and a half minutes. Like the previous album, it seems this one had its duration extended with the inclusion of some really uninteresting tracks such as this one. Rainbow Blues also begins quite gently and unimpressively, with Candice singing to yet some more boring acoustic guitar strumming. Just as I am about to fall asleep, a great guitar riff comes along and wakes me from my stupor. Perhaps not by accident, Rainbow Blues sounds more like a Rainbow song than a Blackmore Night's one. Except that it is actually a Jethro Tull cover, from their not so great album War Child. Again, this cover sounds a little bit better than the original. Ritchie sounds like he is having fun with his Strat, while Candice is always an interesting alternative to Ian Anderson. By now, if you think there is nothing more to the album, and can't wait for it to finish, think again. All For One begins with a languid electric guitar solo, almost reminiscent of Santana at his cheesiest. Ah, but here come the martial drums! Soon where transported into the tavern with the Three Musketeers, all of it in the form of a very catchy rocker which never leaves it baroque musical themes forgotten. Apart from an instrumental middle section with the return of the initial solo, there isn't much variation in this track, but from what I'm hearing, it doesn't really need it. Yet another highlight. Finally, Dandelion wine brings the album to an end by way of (yes, you guessed it) another folkish gentle ballad, this time one that just seems to drag on for too much.

Overall, despite trying to keep the same formula introduced in Fires At Midnight, this is a weaker effort than its predecessor. It is filled with too many bland ballads and fails to raise any excitement throughout as it happened with the previous album. However, Ghost of a Rose does live with the paradox of occasionally having excellent songs, some better than any of the ones found on Fires At Midnight, such as the aforementioned Diamonds And Rust, Cartouche, The second part of Queen For A Day, the exquisite title track, the tavern sing-along Loreley and the heroic rocker All For One. Still, in an hour-long album, it's not enough.

Kotro | 3/5 |

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