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Rainbow - Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow: Stranger in Us All CD (album) cover

RITCHIE BLACKMORE'S RAINBOW: STRANGER IN US ALL

Rainbow

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4 stars On of the few Rainbow albums I have outside the marvelous Dio years, again Ritchie introduces a new vocalist, the unknown Doogie White (as are all players unknown to me), and again it proofs to be a good choice for the music. Which naturally is very good, with some outstanding tracks, and filled with great melodies and guitar play from Ritchie Blackmore. Some medieval and classical influences are heard throughout the album, while the sound can be compared with the better Deep Purple and Rainbow songs from the eighties.

The album is very heavy with great guitar runs and licks from Ritchie, with outstanding bass and vocals, but it's on the more melodic and slow parts where the real beauty of this album becomes apparent. "Hunting Humans" filled with beautifull guitars, but driven by the fabulous basslines and hypnotising keyboard sounds and Doogie's voice is really beautifull. Same applys to "Ariel" simply stunning song, co-written with Candice Night, and a classical feel to the sounds on a fantasy medieval theme.

Black Masquerade has again that medieval influence that often enters Blackmore's music, rather pompuously done, with hints of Anya from deep Purples The Battle Rages On, but with better vocals and lyrics. Grieg's "Hall of the Mountain King" is treated with respect, with very good vocals from Doogie, and grandiose guitars, the melody is used quite often by rockbands, but this is the ultimate rock version of that classical piece (IMO). The album closes with the "Yardbirds" cover "Still I'm Sad" which they had done previously on their debut album also (as an instrumental), and one of the best songs on this great album, the build-up to the title line is perfect.

I didn't mentioned all tracks, but the ones mentioned are the highlights according to me, the rest is very good also. A solid rock album, with lots of interesting sounds and it rocks from start till finish. Get this if you think Ritchie Blackmore is a great guitar player.

Report this review (#101335)
Posted Friday, December 1, 2006 | Review Permalink
WaywardSon
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars This album was quite a surprise and showed Rainbow returning to their roots. On the first two tracks,"Wolf to the moon" and "Cold Hearted Woman" one can immediately hear that Blackmore is back with his Purple style riffs. Bring in Doogie White on vocals and the music takes a turn for the better, back to the classic rock sound we are used to from a band like Rainbow.

Ritchie does some experimenting on "Hunting Humans (Insatiable)" which makes for some interesting listening. Not something you would expect from Rainbow. This song has the bass and drums way up in the mix, while Ritchie unleashes some strange alien type sounds from his guitar.

"Stand up and fight" is the sore thumb on this album, much like Blackmore´s "If you don´t like rock n roll" on Rainbow´s debut album.

"Ariel" is one of the best songs, with some beautiful lead guitar by Blackmore. This song also introduces us to Candice Night who appears as a guest vocalist on this track. Doogie White does a fantastic job on vocals, especially during the middle part of the song, just before Candice takes over.

"Too late for tears" is a good standard rocker which is followed by "Black Masquerade" on which Ritchie gives a glimpse of the musical direction he will eventually turn to when he forms Blackmore´s Night with Candice Night.

"Silence" is another Deep Purple sounding track with a driving riff and powerful vocals from White.

"Hall of the mountain King" is another Rainbow clasic (Previously it was done by Savatage) which showcases Doogie White´s vocal talents.

"Still I´m Sad" was last done on "On Stage", so this is the first time it appears as a studio track. Here it is speeded up with White having no problems reaching the high note which were reserved for Dio.

All in all this is a great album. If it wasn´t for the fourth track I would have given it five stars. Sadly this was to be the last studio album from Rainbow and the last time Ritchie Blackmore played hard rock.

Report this review (#130099)
Posted Tuesday, July 24, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars I'm a big fan of Rithcie Blackmore; actually I'm his biggest fan that I personally know. Lots of people used to detract him based on his behaviour and difficult personality; as I'm interested in music, not in the musician's character, I really don't care for this point (although I blame him for being too ego-centred and didn't help Dio in reactivating the classic Rainbow line-up).

This album wasn't to be a Rainbow album, but pressures from the company made Ritchie reactivate his old band's name. It's a very good album, far better than the eighties' Turner albums (excepted the first one). Doogie White is a wonderful singer and has its own distinctive vocal signature. Best tracks are IMO Wolf to the moon, Ariel, Too late for Tears and Black Masquerade. The others are good too, but this album can't be considered a truly classic. Hardly it could be labeled as a "excellent addition to any prog music collection"; if it was a "heavy rock collection", I'll give it 4 stars. But if you're a fan of Blackmore you won't be disappointed: there are standing solos and very good riffs along the album. Notice the participation of Candice Night in the lyrics dep. and vocals ("Ariel"), giving a clue for the next Blackmore move.

3 stars - good, but non essential (in a prog context).

Report this review (#139187)
Posted Wednesday, September 19, 2007 | Review Permalink
ZowieZiggy
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Dear old Ritchie was sacked for good from "Purple" after the release of "The Battle Rages On". I bet you ! For sure, the battle was furiously raging.... So, why not have another "Rainbow" ride ? Twelve years after their latest release.

The line-up has been totally changed of course. And the result is quite good actually. The lead singer, Doogie White is really performant. Powerful voice, fully in-line with the hard-rock genre. He will be guest vocalist on an awful number of works (doing lots of cover albums from "Iron Maiden", "Whitesnake", "UFO", Slade", but even "T-Rex" and "Yes"). He'll be the lead vocalist of the band "Cornerstone" and will even participate in a band called "White Noise" with a few members from "Mostly Autumn".

The songwriting is also above average (for "Rainbow"). A solid opener "Wolf To The Moon" will remind you the good old days. A hard-rock anthem. One of the highlight. The bluesy side is not forgotten. As if Ritchie was nostalgic about Mark III ! Again, Doogie is rather convincing during "Cold Hearted Woman".

"Ariel" has definite flavours of "Stargazer". The Middle-East sound of the intro strongly reminds this great song. Excellent vocals again. This song is another highlight of this good album. Guitar work of the master being superb (as he always have ought to be).

This album is the best "Rainbow" one since "Rising". Hard-rocking like hell, perfect riffs, heavy and strong beat; but still melodic. "Too Late For Tears" is the perfect combination of all these characteristics. Another highlight. But there is almost nothing but highlights on this excellent album. Of course, you'll need to be in the hard-rock stuff to get into it. "Black Masquerade" is just as good. Catchy melody and wild rhythm. I tend to like this combination very much. Passionate guitar break. This song is not only one of my preferred "Rainbow" one but it can also compete with a lot of "Purple" ones. Really.

There is also a good cover of "Hall Of The Mountain King". ELO also covered it in the early seventies. Where ELO put lots of strings (obviously), Ritchie provides some furious guitar (obviously as well) and the extended version of an old "Rainbow" song ("Still I'm Sad") closes this album in a brilliant manner.

If you want to get the best of "Rainbow", I would recommend the fabulous "Rising" of course and "Stranger In Us All" which comes really close. When I listen to this album, it is really a pity that Ritchie called it quit after such a release. It would have deserved some follow-up. Or maybe that Ritchie wanted to be remembered on a high note ? If this is the case he completely succeeded.

I couldn't beleive what I heard. And when it is good, it is also necessary to mention it. I have been rahter harsh with the band for most of their work but I am enthusiastic about this one. I would also like to salute the great performance from Doogie White.

Four stars.

It is really a surprise to get such a good album at this time of "Rainbow" 's career. They will tour to promote this album and then Ritchie will start his "Blackmore's Night". Something completely different.

Report this review (#146540)
Posted Tuesday, October 23, 2007 | Review Permalink
SouthSideoftheSky
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Symphonic Team
3 stars Blackmore's Masquerade

The sound of this album is closer to that of the Ronnie James Dio-era Rainbow albums than to the Joe Lynn Turner ones, or for that matter the sound of Blackmore's Night. But you could say that this album has traces of all three elements. This is hard rock with some AOR and also some slight Folk and Symphonic influences. Candice Night contributes some background vocals at the end of the excellent Ariel (a song that was recently performed live by Blackmore's Night, see their Paris Moon DVD).

The album opens on a strong note with Wolf To The Moon and there are several good moments. The best tracks are the aforementioned Ariel and Black Masquerade. Also the Symphonic Metal version of the classic Hall Of The Mountain King I find quite enjoyable. The progressive moments of this album is largely confined to these three tracks. Black Masquerade has a somewhat folky instrumental section with great acoustic guitar play and a short (and somewhat subdued) harpsichord solo (or something that is supposed to sound like a harpsichord). Apart from that the keyboards largely take a back seat on this album, unfortunately.

The bluesy rocker Stand And Fight is rather boring and generic and brings this album down a bit. The rest is pretty straightforward Hard Rock, not bad but not remarkable either.

Still I'm Sad is, of course, a classic Rainbow number that used to be an instrumental (originally from the debut album), but this is a version lyrics.

Overall I think it is clear that Stranger In Us All was the best Rainbow album in a long, long time, vastly superior to any of the Joe Lynn Turner-era albums and also far better than the recent (at the time) Deep Purple albums. Sadly, this was to be the last ever Rainbow album. Ritchie went on to create the Folk Pop band Blackmore's Night to the everlasting bafflement of his long time followers. As I hinted at above, if you listen really, really carefully to this album you might hear some traces of what was to come. Personally, I think that he went too far with the Blackmore's Night idea - something in between what can be heard on this album and what was to come in Blackmore's Night, would have been really interesting, I think. Building on the few folky elements of this album but still maintaing a Hard Rock base.

For Ritchie Blackmore fanatics and fans of classic Hard Rock in general, Stranger In Us All is an essential album. For other people this is still a good, but non-essential album.

Report this review (#192331)
Posted Monday, December 8, 2008 | Review Permalink
Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Were you there when the glory years of rock music took place in late sixties into late seventies? If so, I think you must remember the debut album by Ritchie Blackmore's (who had been famous as Deep Purple guitarist) newly established band, Rainbow. And I bet you remember that the ballad 'Temple of The King' was a hit maker. In my case, I remember vividly how my big brother Jokky played the cassette (Perina) repeatedly almost everyday, in loud volume, replaying 'The Temple of The King'. For my personal favorite, I liked 'Man on The Silver Mountain' , 'Self Portrait', 'Snake Charmer' and ...the concluding track, an instrumental one, called 'Still I'm Sad'. ANd two years later the band released 'Rainbow On Stage' which made me 'stunned' and the song was performed with lyrics. What an excellent rock live record!

My point is clear .. If you were there in the seventies, I think you would jump into the last track of this album and start shouting:

See the stars come fallin' down from the sky

Wouldn't you? I did! Yeah.. I was there and this song was one of my favorite rock songs of the seventies. The song is really fabulous in terms of composition. It has great melody that flows nicely, brings the music into an inspiring energy, combined with great harmonies resulted from the combination of Ritchie's guitar and other musicians plus singer. The strength of the song is truly in its groove and melody. Oh man .. I love it very much! I think this song attracts those of you who love classic rock of the seventies.

But don't worry .. the opening track 'Wolf to the Moon' (4:16) is also kickin'. It has all you need in straight hard rock music: excellent melody, catchy riffs and powerful guitar solo by Ritchie. Even though in this album there is no musician who played with Ritchie in the seventies but I can feel the taste of the seventies especially through Ritchie's guitar work in rhythm section as well as solo. The vocal work by Doogie White is not bad at all and it reminds me to the voice of Ronnie James Dio as it fits with the music. 'Cold Hearted Woman' (4:31) is not a bad composition at all. While in 'Stand and Fight' (5:22) the music changes into rock'n'roll style with harmonica opens the music combined with guitar work. Another interesting track is 'Black Masquerade' (5:35) where the music has some sort of eastern music content.

Overall, this is a good album which demonstrates that Ritchie is still kickin' in the nineties. Of course you should not expect something like 'Stargazer' is coming out during this period of time. But the guitar playing of Ritchie is interesting and those who love Deep Purple and Rainbow will favor this album, I believe. Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Report this review (#228146)
Posted Friday, July 24, 2009 | Review Permalink
Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars Blackmore's White Night

Following the release of "Bent out of shape", Ritchie Blackmore decided to rejoin Deep Purple. The "Perfect strangers" album was Purple's strongest release for years, and it seemed Rainbow had run its course. A final compilation album "Final vinyl" was posthumously released in 1986.

As we have come to realise though, it is wise to expect the unexpected with Ritchie, and when the old battles with his old mates "raged on", Ritchie left Deep Purple one last time. He decided to resurrect the Rainbow name, but the resultant line up was completely new save for the copyright holder himself. Scotsman Dougie White assumed vocal duties and Paul Morris came in on keyboards. Despite his brief tenure in the role, White has subsequently exploited the role to the full on his CV, his "Former Rainbow" tag appearing boldly in publicity for his Rainbow tribute band White Noise. Perhaps the most significant arrival though is of Candice Night, who provides backing vocals and shares the lyric writing credits with White.

The fact that Blackmore chose not to reconvene the line up which had enjoyed commercial success with Rainbow's immediately previous albums was probably not because of any animosity. It seems instead that he wanted to return the band to the style of the original Dio era. Thus, while the songs are still highly accessible, they are much less rooted in the AOR style, the lyrics also occasionally having a fantasy bent.

The opening "Wolf to the moon" makes for a fine link back from the "Bent out of shape" era to "Long love rock and roll", the upbeat rock song having commercial appeal while reminding us of those glory days. "Cold hearted woman" actually has more in common with Graham Bonnet's contribution to Rainbow, sounding more than a little like his "Night games". "Hunting Humans (insatiable)" is quite out of character for Rainbow, the thumping hard blues beat and quasi-monotone melody being highly addictive.

Likewise, "Ariel", which is a successful attempt to revisit the wonderful symphonic sounds of "Stargazer" (and indeed "Kashmir"), is a magnificent, brooding affair which would have suited Dio perfectly. Dougie White though offers a fine vocal performance, counterpointed by the delightful fledgling voice of Candice Night. The song would later assume epic proportions which it became a highpoint of Blackmore's Night gigs in the next century. "Black masquerade" is more upbeat, the resemblance here being to "A light in the black" from the "Rising" album.

The final two tracks are adaptations or covers. "Hall of the mountain king" takes Greig's famous theme (as used by Rick Wakeman on "Journey to the centre of the earth") and adds lyrics by Candice Night. Grieg's "Morning" theme is also sneaked in briefly. Natually, the track builds to a suitable crescendo. The final track sees Ritchie revisiting the Yardbirds' "Still I'm sad", a song which originally appeared in instrumental form on Rainbow's debut album. This time, the lyrics are restored to the performance, emulating the live version from the "On stage" album.

There are one or two prosaic efforts here, most notably the bland "Stand and fight" which has the distinct feel of filler. Despite it's "Close to the edge" lyric, "Too late for tears" also falls into this category. By and large though, the songs are strong throughout.

As with Rainbow's other later albums, there is no epic track here, although most do run for a bit longer than the commercial pop those releases contained. As such, Blackmore's trademark guitar sounds are largely confined to backing the vocal lines and to brief solo bursts. This is though a fine epitaph for one of the major bands of the late 20th century. This really would be the last studio album by Rainbow, Blackmore soon deciding that his future lay in the Renaissance folk rock of Blackmore's Night.

Report this review (#243063)
Posted Monday, October 5, 2009 | Review Permalink
siLLy puPPy
COLLABORATOR
PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams
4 stars The 1995 release STRANGER IN US ALL was intended to be guitarist Ritchie Blackmore's first solo album after permanently retiring the RAINBOW brand name and rejoining / then again leaving the legendary Deep Purple in 1993. Apparently a demand from the BMG label which released the album, Blackmore was forced to resurrect the RAINBOW moniker and put together the umpteenth version of the band that absolutely nobody was expecting to see make a comeback especially in the alternative everything mid-1990s when the grunge scene had all but made 80s hard rockers obsolete.

Blackmore was always up to the challenge and instead of recruiting past members to form some sort of reunion album took on the bold decision to recruit completely unknown but promising musicians who could reinterpret the classic RAINBOW sounds of the past and take them somewhere new. Blackmore was wise to avoid jumping on the bandwagon that many an 80s band did by trying to adapt to the alternative 90s and instead simply looked to the past and picked up right where the last RAINBOW album "Bent Out Of Shape" left off in 1983 thus making it a 12 year gap between albums and going back further by using the moniker RITCHIE BLACKMORE'S RAINBOW which hadn't donned an album cover since the 1975 debut.

The new lineup included American bassist Greg Smith, drummer John O'Reilly, keyboardist Paul Morris, Blackmore's wife, backing vocalist and future partner in Blackmore's Night, Candice Night and on lead vocals Scotland born Doogie White who was somewhat of a departure from all the other vocalists who came before with a grittier heavy blues rock style of singing. Despite the congregation of unseasoned newbies on board STRANGER IN US ALL was an amazingly great album of 70s and 80s sounding heavy metal and hard rock tracks that excelled in crafting catchy guitar driven hooks and strong melodic emotive lyrics which sort of mined RAINBOW's past and included not only fantasy themes but more mainstream themes as well. The album was a true surprise in its consistency and although while not performing well in the English speaking world, did amazingly well in Europe and Japan where it was certified gold.

Little wonder the American scene completely ignored this RAINBOW release since it basically gave the middle finger to anything 90s and proudly looked back and delivered one of the strongest sets of tracks in the band's eight album canon. The majority of the tracks were written by Blackmore and Doogie White. The opening "Wolf To The Moon" is by far the most metal on board and evoked the Dio years of RAINBOW along with more power metal intensity in the guitar riffs however the album cools down a bit in the energy department and remains in simple hard rock territory for the majority of the album's near 52-minute run. "Cold Hearted Woman" sounds more like something off of a Whitesnake album from the 1980 timeline but the following "Hunting Humans (Insatiable)" provides one of the catchiest bass stomp driven grooves with the most instantly addictive hooks.

"Stand And Fight," "Ariel" and "Too Late For Tears" also focus on heavy blues rock with strong hooks, dirty raw rhythms and despite being completely traditional are extremely well designed and performed. "Black Masquerade" reminds most of the Joe Lynn Turner years both compositionally and vocally. "Silence" is probably the track that sounds the most different from any other RAINBOW tracks despite a bluesy based riffing but still recognizable as a RAINBOW tune. The closing two tracks are the most different. "Hall Of The Mountain King" is a reinterpretation of an Edward Grieg piece from his most famous piece from "Peer Gynt" only arranged into a rockin' the classic hard rock extravaganza with Doogie White adding power metal vocals. The closing "Still I'm Sad" is a Yardbirds cover and if you have the Japanese version, the bonus track "Emotional Crime" is included but nothing extraordinary different to get excited about as it's just another blues rock song.

Very rarely do such comeback albums yield anything worthy of investigating but Blackmore hit a home run with this little gem. While nothing that would make anybody love the band if they weren't already on board, STRANGER IN US ALL is nevertheless an extraordinarily strong album that takes RAINBOW to its next level and obvious conclusion that didn't quite happen before Blackmore suddenly shut things down and jumped back on the Deep Purple bandwagon the decade prior. For anyone who stayed with RAINBOW after Dio jumped ship, this is definitely one that should not be missed as it is chock filled with instantly addictive hard rock hooks and excellent instrumental interplay that sounds like a band of well seasoned professionals but are in fact all brand new to the RAINBOW scene. This was Blackmore's last album as a rock performer for 20 years before forming Blackmore's Night with his wife Candice Night and then eventually reviving the RAINBOW brand once again in 2015. Will there be another album from this band? Who knows but if this is the last one ever made, it's certainly not a bad way to go out.

Report this review (#2574228)
Posted Thursday, June 24, 2021 | Review Permalink

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