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Blackmore's Night - Shadow of the Moon CD (album) cover


Blackmore's Night


Prog Folk

3.22 | 106 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars I very much remember the day I first saw this CD, without the benefit of any music magazine or other reviews to guide me. Not long after its release in 1998, I was browsing in a wonderful record shop in Wrexham, North Wales, near to where I used to live, when I just saw the magic word Blackmore.

Ritchie Blackmore was easily my earliest idol. I had got into Deep Purple & Rainbow before I was introduced to prog as a quite young lad by neighbours. I loved them both, and then, as now, I regarded Blackmore as a genius, incapable of doing much wrong. I, of course, bought the CD and spent what seemed an age trying to get my head around the fact that he had joined with a female vocalist and gone all Olde Worlde.

However, once I began to appreciate what I was listening to, I fell in love, and have got every release since. Moreover, I recognised in this album some very important points. Candice Night has a fantastically sensual voice, and is almost a female version of Dio in his more mellow moments. Blackmore was still an incredible guitarist. The songwriting and arrangements were exceptionally strong. And, perhaps more to the point, the music was exceptionally warm and drew me in until I was hooked. I have seen countless reviews and articles bemoaning the fact that Blackmore had "abandoned" his true rock roots, Geoff Barton being the chief culprit.

Ignore them. What we have here, and in subsequent releases, none of which are any less than three stars (good), is about the perfect fusion of traditional English folk with prog and rock sensibilities. The musicianship is never less than excellent, the production is lush, and, for those of you who love their folk prog in the shape of a certain Beastie, it features about the finest ever Ian Anderson flute solo put to record in the exciting and boundless energy of Play Minstrel Play.

None of the tracks are anything less than gorgeous. There are, though, some outstanding moments. The opener, the title track, announces itself in rip roaring fashion, and draws you in. Renaissance Faire will have you dancing a sixteenth century jig with your partner, that is, unless you are both tone and rhythm deaf.

The aforementioned Play Minstrel Play is simply incredible. I love the narrative that Night so sensuously provides, Blackmore has never sounded better on an acoustic guitar, and Anderson blows away as if his very life depended upon it.

Ocean Gypsy is a copy of a track by those other English prog folk giants, Renaissance. If anything, this version is better, and that is stated without any disrespect whatsoever to a band I have admired for many years. Candice Night's vocals are enough to send shivers down your spine, and she is backed by perhaps the finest pastoral music it has been my pleasure to hear. A track with which to fall in love with with your loved one by your side.

Lastly, Greensleeves is a stunning reworking of a traditional English folk tune, something that Blackmore had tried in a different fashion, very well, with Sixteenth Century Greensleeves on Rainbow's original. This is quite different and far better, simply because the arrangement is closer to the spirit of the traditional work. You also marvel at Blackmore's dexterity on his guitar.

Elsewhere, it is simply excellent folk rock, combined with a couple of poppier tracks and also fusions of pop/rock and classical music such as Writing On The Wall, which is fun without being in any way essential.

I would highly recommend this album to anyone wishing to explore the latter career of a true rock God. I would certainly recommend it to anyone wishing to take themselves out of a tiny little stereotypical box and who wish to explore something a little bit different from a man who had the guts to reinvent himself, without care for the consequences.

Four stars for this. An excellent addition to any prog rock music collection which only just falls short of being a true masterpiece - not by much, though.

lazland | 4/5 |


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