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


Blackmore's Night


Prog Folk

3.30 | 63 ratings

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Symphonic Team
3 stars Fires At Midnight comes a little bit closer to what you would expect from a man like Ritchie Blackmore. It is perhaps not an album that would appeal to all Deep Purple and Rainbow fans, but if any Blackmore's Night album could convert them it is this one (or maybe a live album). Fires At Midnight largely avoids the glossy pop production of both earlier and later albums in favour of a slightly more rock sound. It also avoids those awful drum machines that sometimes are present in their music.

But the most important difference is that the electric guitar is much more heavily featured here and several songs even rock quite hard! The electric guitar sound is excellent and often reminds us of Ritchie's days in Rainbow. The lead guitar in I Still Remember has a Far Eastern flavour that reminds me slightly of the Rainbow classic Gates Of Babylon. Indeed, both the opener Written In The Stars and I Still Remember I find excellent. And this comes from someone who used to completely dismiss this band.

I am not going to go through all the songs but we find many other good ones here, and only a couple of less good ones. The Bob Dylan cover is out of place and I would much prefer it if they stuck to their own compositions and some traditional material and left out those American Folk singers entirely. But this is certainly not their worst such cover ever.

The best songs on Fires At Midnight are basically the longer ones; the aforementioned Written In The Stars and I Still Remember, as well as the seven minute title track complete with quite long electric guitar solo(!) and the surprisingly potent Storm. The latter could perhaps even be called Prog? Anyway it features great acoustic guitar play over an up tempo rock beat and some surprising changes.

After Storm the album falls flat with a series of not so good songs. The ultra-catchy All Because Of You is a song that wouldn't be entirely out of place in the Eurovision Song Contest! This is followed by another song that also would have been best left out. But if you manage to get through this part of the album there are some nice acoustic instrumentals awaiting you where Ritchie plays alone on a stringed instrument (guitar or lute, I suppose). These might not be very memorable by themselves, but they function as nice interludes between the vocal tracks, helping to keep the album reasonably varied and interesting. However, with a running time of over 70 minutes it does tend to get more than a bit samey and it would have been very easy to leave out some weaker tracks and making the whole album stronger.

While far from perfect, Fires At Midnight is easily my favourite Blackmore's Night studio album. But maybe a live album or video is still the best starting point for Prog fans and Deep Purple/Rainbow fans.

SouthSideoftheSky | 3/5 |


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