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Blackmore's Night - Fires At Midnight CD (album) cover


Blackmore's Night


Prog Folk

3.33 | 76 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars "The stars are out and magic is here"

The third album from Ritchie and Candice maintains the medieval flavour, while developing a harder edge; there is a maturity to the music here which represents a definite progression from previous albums. Blackmore seems more inclined than before to plug his guitar in, while the music is still far from his work with Deep Purple there are more similarities at times with some of Rainbow's softer pieces.

With no less than 16 tracks, the longest of which is around 7 minutes, there is strong evidence that both Blackmore and Night remain as inspired by their chosen lifestyle as ever.

The opening "Written in the stars" begins innocuously with a-capella vocals by Candice Night, but the pounding drums soon signal something altogether more powerful. Blackmore's lead guitar drives this feel-good song throughout, diving and soaring behind a fine vocal performance. The lead guitar soon returns on the mid-paced love song "I still remember". In-between, a cover of Bob Dylan's "The times they are a changing" adopts a more orthodox medieval feel, transforming the song into what is surely a traditional English folk song.

Later, the title track will see Ritchie add a full blooded lead guitar workout to a track which features mysterious lyrics to an acoustic backing, before building through a fanfare of wind instruments. The development and arrangement of the track belie any notion that Blackmore's Night are content to simply re-create the past. "All because of you" is a similar if more commercial type of song, Blackmore's lead guitar being supplemented by some fine bagpipes!

"Home again" instantly became a live favourite, the irresistible sing-along chorus being an obvious invitation to audience participation. Night plays teasingly with the arrangement of the song giving it the feel of a drunken romp especially when Ruby's Choir join in "live" for the choruses!

The traditional side of Blackmore's Night is at its most evident on track such as "Crowning of the king", which develops a Tielmann Sussato theme that leans heavily towards bands such as Steeleye Span. The traditional instrumentation also contributes towards the atmosphere of the track. An aspect of the band which is often unjustly overlooked, is the lyrical talent of Candice Night. "Hanging tree" just one of many examples of her ability to tell a story which sounds for all the world like it has been around for centuries. Perhaps posterity will ultimately acknowledge the true depths of her talents in this regard. "Benzai-Ten" is another excellent example of Night's gift for story telling; here she recounts a Japanese legend of a goddess who married a dragon king to "stop him eating humans".

Also in the traditional vein is "Storm", a song with a strong Pentangle feel and some excellent Spanish style guitar. "Waiting just for you" takes a familiar 18th Century theme (one which Steve Hillage used briefly on "It's all too much") and transforms it through the addition of romantic lyrics into a potential single.

Ritchie adds a couple of solo acoustic guitar pieces, the first of which is the brief "Fayre thee well". "Praerorius (Courante)" follows a similar pattern, the tracks acting as fine interlude pieces.

"Fires at midnight" is arguably Blackmore's Night's best album up to this point. The enhanced arrangements complement some of the best songs Ritchie and Candice have written together, while moving the band securely into prog folk territories. As an album, the tracks knit together perfectly, offering the option of selective listening or a highly enjoyable hour of music.

Easy Livin | 4/5 |


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