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Blackmore's Night - Under A Violet Moon CD (album) cover

UNDER A VIOLET MOON

Blackmore's Night

 

Prog Folk

2.65 | 73 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars "We're going back to a time we knew."

The second album by Ritchie and his good lady is a natural evolution from their previous offering. There is a more refined air of sophistication here, which lends itself well to the type of music Blackmore's Night perform. The songs are generally developed slightly more than on the previous album, with Ritchie even opting plug in his guitar from time to time. The music is still heavily influenced by mediaeval folk, with acoustic accompaniment being the norm. Indeed the sticker on the sleeve proclaims this to be "a kaleidoscope of European folk music and old world compositions". I suspect the "European" tag is largely to pander towards the strongest market for Blackmore's Night's releases, the music in fact being very English.

The opening title track has a Romany/gypsy feel to it, with shouts of "hey" at the end of the choruses evoking a round the campfire feel. The song features some nice organ work by Jens Johannson. The lyrics can be a little kitsch, with lines such as "Raise your hats and your glasses too, we will dance the whole night through, we're going back to a time we knew.". In fairness though, such lyrics do create the atmosphere which the duo are seeking to portray.

There are many highlights throughout the album. "Wind in the willows" is unusual as the lead vocals are performed by John Ford (of the Strawbs early line up) with Candice Night dueting and harmonising. The song has a Fairport Convention folk song feel to it, telling a pleasant tale of the travelling the English countryside. It is a lovely, highly melodic piece with superior lyrics. "Gone with the wind" which follows sees Ritchie offering one of his great, but all too brief, lead guitar solos. Given the acoustic nature of the preceding tracks, the solo comes as something of a surprise, but there no doubting the man can still hack it when he wants to. The track is darker than usual for Blackmore's Night, telling a disturbing tale to a marching rhythm while thunder rages in the distance.

A number of the tracks are Blackmore's Night by the numbers, with a lilting violin here, a lute based theme there and so on. "Morning star", "Avalon" and "Spanish Nights" (Spanish Guitar and castanets!) among others, all fall into this category. Nice songs, but rather undistinguished, and a little too easy.

Rainbow's "Self portrait" is given a dusting down to close the album. The song was one of the weaker moments on their first album, and remains rather ineffective here. There are three Blackmore composed instrumentals too. Don't hold your breath though, these are acoustic guitar solos of course, along the lines of Steve Howe's solo spots for Yes ("Mood for a day", etc.) or a John Williams virtuoso performance.

The guest list for the album is extensive, befitting of a legend such as Ritchie. Most guests though only feature on a single track, the band being Blackmore, Night and two or three others.

A fine second album with much to enjoy for those who are looking for something relaxed but melodic.

A final word about the sleeve art by Peter Pracownik, which sets the scene perfectly; anyone looking for Ritchie's Deep Purple tones cannot say they were not pre-warned by the illustration. It would look so much better though on an LP sized cover.

Easy Livin | 4/5 |

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