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Rainbow - Finyl Vinyl CD (album) cover




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2.64 | 71 ratings

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2 stars First of all, it's always a terrible idea for any musical group to call anything they do "final." Chances are that a reunion of sorts is in the cards down the road and that happened to Rainbow just like it did for sundry others of their ilk. Leader Ritchie Blackmore said "never again" in 1984, folded up his tents and went to shack up with yet another reconstituted edition of Deep Purple. Lo and behold, nine years later the Rainbow balloon was re-inflated so the title of this record became a lie. No big deal, though. It happens all the time. Anywho, when Ritchie left the purple gang in the mid-70s I not only lost interest in the group he walked away from but I also failed to be able to generate any interest in the new outfit he was putting together. My tastes in music were starting to lean in more of a jazz/rock fusion sorta way in those days and despite how much I'd loved his fiery guitar style up to then I was ready to find other gun slingers to singe my short and curlies. In other words, unless I heard a Rainbow song on the FM I was oblivious to the products of their craftsmanship. Earlier this year I grabbed up one of their albums at random to see what I'd missed. "Down to Earth" was a disappointment and that's like saying the Titanic was a bust. It reeked of manure. However, I've learned not to judge a band by one CD so then I went the safe and less expensive route. In cases like this where I don't want to further invest in their catalog I'll spring for a greatest hits package to get a comprehensive overview of their career. Even better is a live album because you usually get a more accurate bead on what the group was really about. "Finyl Vinyl" fit the bill and I'm marginally pleased to say that at least it was listenable.

The curtain-raiser is "Spotlight Kid." A pompous concert opening featuring Dorothy and Toto leads to a speedy number with Blackmore out in front, shredding his fretboard frantically and as spectacularly as he did with his former combo. It's a good starter tune that gets the juices flowing. "I Surrender" is next and this heavy rocker kicks hard but the song is of average quality at best. If not for Ritchie's blistering guitar ride it would be a total waste of time to sit through. "Miss Mistreated" follows and it's the kind of lead-footed plodder that I refer to as vanilla rawk. It ponderously meanders along and never matures. There are a few studio cuts included and the first one is "Jealous Lover." It's a riff-based ditty that's somewhat unattractive yet fairly typical of the stagnant era it was created in. There's a Foreigner aroma wafting through the track and that should tell you volumes. They go back to the stage for "Can't Happen Here," a song that's reminiscent of DP's excellent "Burn" but without the splendid urgency and inventive interludes being included that made that tune a classic. They churn out a faithful rendition of their hit single, "Since You Been Gone," but, like the original, it leaves me cold as a DQ dilly bar. Too Top 40 for this stubborn progger to endorse. Another studio track, "Bad Girl," is next. It's a formula rocker that I find annoyingly vapid and predictable. Again, it's Blackmore's hot guitar solo that saves it from the abyss. But just barely. "Bad Girl" is a bad song.

Things brighten considerably with the live version of "Difficult to Cure." While its lone guitar beginning is only semi-interesting, that brief exposition evolves into a full band affair wherein the other guys join up to support Ritchie as he proceeds to put on a showcase of his six string prowess. When they morph into a strong, updated delivery of Ludwig Van's "Ode to Joy" it's a nice treat for the senses. Finally Blackmore comes through with the goods. In addition a symphonic string section appears and it's a stroke of genius. This track is definitely the proggiest thing on the disc. (Can you imagine him with ELP?) The extended organ intro for "Stone Cold" is cool but the song that ensues is weak and woefully dated. In that era 100 acts were putting schlock of this nature out every month. "Power" fares no better. It's more of the run-of-the-mill rock that only served to further taint that once proud but ultimately jaded genre and it deserves to be avoided. "Man on the Silver Mountain" is one of the few Rainbow numbers I know and it's also the one I immediately identify with the band. Taped earlier in their career, I can tell there's a lot more energy and effort being put into the performance. Ronnie James Dio's vocal is killer and Blackmore's guitar work is invigorating. I especially appreciate how they effortlessly dive into a fun, bluesy deal at the end. "Long Live Rock & Roll" follows. It's a pounding shuffle that's a decent headbanger as long as you keep your expectations low. Dio's goading-of-the-audience-into- participating segment gets real old real fast, however. The album goes out on a tasteful note with the studio instrumental, "Weiss Heim." Its somber mood is refreshing and highly effective. Ritchie restrains himself and it pays off as the number stays in its gentle pocket all the way through. My only wish is that they would've let pianist David Rosenthal become more involved along the way. He could've made the song extra special.

"Finyl Vinyl" was released in March of 1986 with hopes that it would resonate among the group's fan base who sorely missed their Rainbow fix. It sold reasonably well, reaching #87 on the US charts (not too shabby for an entity that had been dead two years). I get the impression that most of Rainbow's material was penned by Blackmore because everything I've heard so far sounds quite derivative of Deep Purple. And with good reason. Ritchie was the most vital cog in that famous ensemble in their heyday and he took a lot of their signature sound with him when he skedaddled. There's enough good stuff on this record to keep it out of my dungeon but it falls short too often for me to call it average. 2.3 stars.

Chicapah | 2/5 |


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