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Blackmore's Night - Past Times With Good Company  CD (album) cover

PAST TIMES WITH GOOD COMPANY

Blackmore's Night

Prog Folk


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Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars The one with the song by King Alfonso the 10th

A double live CD by Candice Night and her husband recorded in Holland in 2002. There's a bit more a rock feel to this collection than the original studio albums. It's all relative of course, and the traditional instruments are very much still here.

The opening version of "Shadow of the moon" runs to some 10 minutes, and sets the pace and tone for the rest of the gig. There's also a lovely extended version of "Fires at midnight", complete with violin and acoustic guitar duet.

The recording quality is superb throughout, and Night sounds perfectly comfortable in her role as "Front (wo)man". The strength of the song writing partnership is evidenced by the fact that almost all the tracks are credited to Blackmore, often with Night. That said, David Coverdale wrote the Lyrics for the wonderful "Soldier of fortune" (originally from Deep Purple's "Stormbringer"), and Ronnie James Dio, Tchaikovsky, T Susatto, Henry VIII and King Alfonso the 10th (sic) all receive writing credits too!

The digi-book version has two bonus tracks, an alternative live version of "Fires at midnight", and a non-English version of "Home again" (in my ignorance, I don't know which language.)

An excellent album, well worth buying even if you have all the studio albums. As you listen, remember to picture the people in the front row in their mediaeval garb, as is traditional at Blackmore's Night concerts.

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Send comments to Easy Livin (BETA) | Report this review (#17170)
Posted Saturday, July 31, 2004 | Review Permalink
Muzikman
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars Wunerful! Wunerful! If you are old enough to remember, Lawrence Welk used to say that on his TV show. That is what the first live release "Past Times With Good Company" from BLACKMORE'S NIGHT is. I have often wondered what direction Ritchie Blackmore went after he closed up shop with his successful group RAINBOW and his on again off again relationship with DEEP PURPLE finally came to a close. For those of you that have been following his career since those days and have not heard his most recent material you will be in for a big surprise. Do not expect the electric guitar runs soaked in rock and blues. Do not worry folks, he has not completely hung up the electric six-string, but I have to be honest, most of the music caters very strongly to acoustic instruments.

Ritchie's love for days gone past have finally reached their full blossoming fruition with a group of seasoned musicians that play RENAISSANCE-era music with a modern twist. He formed the band with his fiancée, vocalist/lyricist Candice Night and they released a first studio effort titled "Shadow Of The Moon" on Intersound in 1998. He handpicked musicians from around the world to merge rudiments of world, RENAISSANCE, new age, folk, and rock. I not only heard all of those genres in all of their gorgeous glory, elements of Middle-Eastern music find its way into some of the tracks as well.

Their repertoire includes uplifting and delightfully rich compositions complimented excellently by Night's sweet vocals. Blackmore's fretwork is as usual, beyond reproach. He really has a found a niche that I think may last until the end of his unparalleled career. I cannot compare their studio efforts to this live material as I have not had the pleasure to hear it yet, although I can tell you that this two CD set will give you a good overview of the all the highlights of that work while bringing each song into a effervescent and most appealing light. The sound is fantastic; I do not think it could be any better for a live recording.

This is as progressive as music can get. It is without any uncertainty worldly in every possible way. I am sure a broad audience will find many hours of enjoyment listening to this 2-disc set. I am not one to listen to this type of music on a regular basis; this however would be the exception to the rule. Any reservations that I may have had about listening to music like this more often are now taking a permanent back seat. I loved all of this. Blackmore may have lost many fans by making this change but he has also created an entirely new audience while bringing along some of the old faithful, like me.

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Send comments to Muzikman (BETA) | Report this review (#17172)
Posted Monday, January 24, 2005 | Review Permalink
Angelo
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars Have you ever fallen in love with someone's voice?

I know I have... I remember that years ago, when my wife was still my girlfriend, I would just sit still and listen to her singing in another room. The joy and happiness from that voice did miracles to even the worst of moods (it still does by the way). Listening to Candice Night singing Home Again on this album has the same effect. What voice this is - crystal clear, great range and you can hear how much she enjoys singing to the crowd. It really made me feel like 'coming home' the first time I heard it - I even got watery eyes...

I'm not an export on folk, nor on renaissance or medieval music, but I do like tracks like Ayreon's Ye Court Yard Minstrel Boy (on The Final Experiment). The 83 minutes of great music on this album are on a completely different level though. Folk, mixed with classical music and rock (driving beats combined with acoustic snares, brilliant! - well, it works for me).

I'm not going to attempt a track by track review here, but here's a small overview. Songs like Shadow Of The Moon, Under a Violet Moon and Renaissance Fair have a great mix of old and modern sound to them, and really make you feel like going to a big banquet and enjoy yourself. Candice' voice, mixed with the beat and the string melodies works perfectly. In some places (shadow of the Moon, Fires at Midnight) I can almost see here dance through the audience, casting here fairy spell on them.

When the electric guitar kicked in for 16th Century Greensleeves the first time I played the album, I was disappointed - why ruin the renaissance atmosphere with an electric guitar? However, after mere seconds that feeling was gone. The guitar lead at the start somehow fits in perfectly with the rest of the album which is to be expected from someone like Richie Blackmore of course. In this song, Candice' voice (again, sorry...) makes you forget about Rainbow's Ronnie James what was his last name again?

I can't explain better then this right now, but this album brings 'old' music that rocks in it's own way - and it's going to be on my list of favourites for quite a while I expect.

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Send comments to Angelo (BETA) | Report this review (#79123)
Posted Tuesday, May 23, 2006 | Review Permalink
Sean Trane
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Folk
2 stars Well this live album will not realty bring you a hidden facet that other BN studio albums would. If you are a Purple or rainbow fan and hope that live Blackmood unleashes high and dry, smashes his guitars his a XVth century tapestry, slays dragons with one cold stare and screws the princess on stage, think again. You get nothing more than a fairly close version of the studio tracks, plus a batch of relatively interesting covers, hidden or not.

The medieval touches might be slightly more present than on his studio recordings, but nothing to get excited about. You get this XVth century instrumental reminding you of Greensleeves, than an adaptation of a Henry VIII track in two parts, a rather unworthy rendition of the old Purple Soldier Of Fortune (Candice's signing was never real strong, so she would be best advised to stay away from strong numbers that she can be compared with Coverdale) and the Rainbow XVIth Century Greensleeves, again not even coming close to the original but designed to please the fans not able to forget the man's past Some of those tracks are still cheesy live as they were in the studio (debut's title track), that instrumental Sunset track (downright laughably romantic), the awful sing-along Home Again, the cheesy-fondue Renaissance Faire (they forgot the Y) and other average tracks.

This set comes in a rather different jewel case that you might just be used to, but that's about it for novelty. For fans only, I would say or maybe a fitting intro. Can make a pleasant listening experience if you share it with a woman not really into rock music.

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Send comments to Sean Trane (BETA) | Report this review (#82212)
Posted Thursday, June 29, 2006 | Review Permalink
SouthSideoftheSky
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Symphonic Team
3 stars I was quite unimpressed by Blackmore's Night's first couple of studio albums and then I gave up on them altogether. But Blackmore's Night is actually a much better band live than they are in the studio. At least we are spared the glossy and very pop oriented production of many the studio albums, and the electric guitar is brought out a bit more in the live setting, at least compared to the first two studio albums.

Still, this is primarily a rather light weight (too much so for my taste) renaissance and Folk rock concert with only occasional ventures into the rock past of Ritchie. Deep Purple and Rainbow gets one song each, which I think is too little. But it is understandable that they want to concentrate on the material they have done together. Candice Night sings the Deep Purple classic Soldier Of Fortune really well. It is a beautiful version.

The Rainbow song was a surprise. Here Ritchie brings out his Stratocaster and we get some heavy riffs. Despite being very eclectic music, this is hardly progressive though. But it warms the heart of a Rainbow fan like this writer.

Much of the music here is traditional and the selection here is basically Blackmore's Night's greatest hits with a Rainbow and a Purple song thrown in. They perform well and Candice can really communicate with an audience. The good atmosphere oozes out of the speakers.

Blackmore's Night is certainly not an essential band for the Prog fan. But if you want to check them out, the best way to enjoy them is probably in a live setting. This might be the only Blackmore's Night album you ever need (though the Fires At Midnight album is good too).

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Send comments to SouthSideoftheSky (BETA) | Report this review (#198927)
Posted Tuesday, January 13, 2009 | Review Permalink
Kotro
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars Minstrels in the gallery

Overall appreciation of live recording quality - Past Times With Good Company is a good quality live recording covering material from the first three Blackmore's Night albums. My version has different cover art, a gayish pink one with flowers and crap rather than the tavern scene displayed here.

In comparison to the original studio tracks, the material here is generally played in a more acoustic fashion. This approach results quite lovely in songs originally acoustic, but not so good in the others. This does mean, however, that this show lacked energy throughout. Some differences worth noting: Shadow Of The Moon is an extended version with the beginning of Written in the Stars as opener. Play Minstrel Play is a good quality rendition of the studio version without Ian Anderson, whose absence is not felt, courtesy of a well orchestrated meddle section and finale. Fires At Midnight works well in the beginning, but there is no guitar solo (replaced by violin), and it features a boring extended middle section in the build-up to the end, which is quite climatic. Apart from their own songs, there is also space for covers. First, an acoustic one of Deep Purple's Soldier of Fortune. The electric guitar only appears in the second CD, right on the opener, a cover of Rainbow's 16th Century Greensleeves. Home Again is ok, featuring some minor improvisation, but not nearly as spectacular as one would expect it to be in a live setting. I Still Remember is guitarless and too drowsy, as if it was a vinyl record played in a slower rotation. Finally, we get some more electric guitar (yay!) on Writing On The Wall, which played live with a proper band and no studio gimmicks such as the awful drum machines featured in the album version, turns out quite better than the original. Choosing some definite highlights, I would have to go with Play Minstrel Play, 16th Century Greensleeves and, surprisingly, Writing On The Wall.

In conclusion, this live offering should be mostly of interest to fans of the band - but even for them this would might be a useless additon, given that there are two DVD's with similar playlist, and the importance of the visual component in a band like Blackmore's Night. Live musicianship is top quality, but most tracks are weaker than their studio counterparts. Also, and this is a personal issue, I find Candice Nigh extremely annoying live, too lovey-dovey for my tastes.

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Send comments to Kotro (BETA) | Report this review (#271926)
Posted Sunday, March 14, 2010 | Review Permalink

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