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Blackmore's Night - Shadow of the Moon CD (album) cover


Blackmore's Night


Prog Folk

3.20 | 100 ratings

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Sean Trane
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk
2 stars Surprise struck almost everyone when this first album came out, and I must admit I was among the ones howling with the pack at Ritchie for making what I thought, at the time, was a ridiculous parody of the bard/troubadour thing. I was one of those disabused fans that accused his muse Candice, to lead him by the nose just like males in their mid-50's can cover themselves with ridicule for a young babe's arse - hope I live old enough to live such a degrading experience with such a beautiful tigress ;-).

But over the years and with the succession of albums persevering in the same musical direction and thinking over Blackmore's whole career, I started understanding that his medieval envies were not exactly a late whim, but it goes back to early Rainbow days when he met the golden-voiced dwarf Dio. So in retrospect, I must admit that my attitude at "reading" this album was not right from the start, but one thing that I was right about is the overuse of clichés and a naïve (almost laughable) lovebard (I know ;-) stance.

To call this album progressive folk rock might just be pushing it a bit too far, but the fact remains that this album is full of folk-sounding tunes, never really pretending to being authentically medieval (but sufficiently so that this issue raises the parody sarcasms). But coming down hard on Blackmore for this album without doing the same with Mostly Autumn would be completely hypocrite. Mrs Night has a rather nice voice timbre but does not have a great vocal range and in the run of a whole album like this one, the listeners cannot help but grow weary at the repetition of tracks, which lacks highlights and real soul.

Except from some synth keyboards, all of the instrumentation is acoustic - bar the Writing On The Wall track which is shockingly synthetic-sounding, full of beat-box rhythm and stands out like a sore thumb and the odd superb electric guitar solos that we know Ritchie pulls out from his bag of tricks - see the No Second Chance track or the closing Wish You Were Here. Some tracks are looking at lutes and at Greensleeves shamelessly (some are simply the real thing, but I would not call this version better than Jeff Beck's version as this cover-version borders on the ridiculously cheesy), others try to sound authentically medieval (and almost succeeds) like Mond Tanz. Do not get me wrong; the album is not devoid of qualities, on the contrary, but the least we can say is that the dressing-up is hardly helping out the credibility of the album.

A rather bland, naïve (not yet matured) first record is the verdict, but for a first try, Ritchie deserves some attenuating circumstances and should avoid the guillotine set out but Purpleheads out for revenge. He will issue better albums later on.

Sean Trane | 2/5 |


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