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Rainbow - Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow: Stranger in Us All CD (album) cover




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Easy Livin
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Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars Blackmore's White Night

Following the release of "Bent out of shape", Ritchie Blackmore decided to rejoin Deep Purple. The "Perfect strangers" album was Purple's strongest release for years, and it seemed Rainbow had run its course. A final compilation album "Final vinyl" was posthumously released in 1986.

As we have come to realise though, it is wise to expect the unexpected with Ritchie, and when the old battles with his old mates "raged on", Ritchie left Deep Purple one last time. He decided to resurrect the Rainbow name, but the resultant line up was completely new save for the copyright holder himself. Scotsman Dougie White assumed vocal duties and Paul Morris came in on keyboards. Despite his brief tenure in the role, White has subsequently exploited the role to the full on his CV, his "Former Rainbow" tag appearing boldly in publicity for his Rainbow tribute band White Noise. Perhaps the most significant arrival though is of Candice Night, who provides backing vocals and shares the lyric writing credits with White.

The fact that Blackmore chose not to reconvene the line up which had enjoyed commercial success with Rainbow's immediately previous albums was probably not because of any animosity. It seems instead that he wanted to return the band to the style of the original Dio era. Thus, while the songs are still highly accessible, they are much less rooted in the AOR style, the lyrics also occasionally having a fantasy bent.

The opening "Wolf to the moon" makes for a fine link back from the "Bent out of shape" era to "Long love rock and roll", the upbeat rock song having commercial appeal while reminding us of those glory days. "Cold hearted woman" actually has more in common with Graham Bonnet's contribution to Rainbow, sounding more than a little like his "Night games". "Hunting Humans (insatiable)" is quite out of character for Rainbow, the thumping hard blues beat and quasi-monotone melody being highly addictive.

Likewise, "Ariel", which is a successful attempt to revisit the wonderful symphonic sounds of "Stargazer" (and indeed "Kashmir"), is a magnificent, brooding affair which would have suited Dio perfectly. Dougie White though offers a fine vocal performance, counterpointed by the delightful fledgling voice of Candice Night. The song would later assume epic proportions which it became a highpoint of Blackmore's Night gigs in the next century. "Black masquerade" is more upbeat, the resemblance here being to "A light in the black" from the "Rising" album.

The final two tracks are adaptations or covers. "Hall of the mountain king" takes Greig's famous theme (as used by Rick Wakeman on "Journey to the centre of the earth") and adds lyrics by Candice Night. Grieg's "Morning" theme is also sneaked in briefly. Natually, the track builds to a suitable crescendo. The final track sees Ritchie revisiting the Yardbirds' "Still I'm sad", a song which originally appeared in instrumental form on Rainbow's debut album. This time, the lyrics are restored to the performance, emulating the live version from the "On stage" album.

There are one or two prosaic efforts here, most notably the bland "Stand and fight" which has the distinct feel of filler. Despite it's "Close to the edge" lyric, "Too late for tears" also falls into this category. By and large though, the songs are strong throughout.

As with Rainbow's other later albums, there is no epic track here, although most do run for a bit longer than the commercial pop those releases contained. As such, Blackmore's trademark guitar sounds are largely confined to backing the vocal lines and to brief solo bursts. This is though a fine epitaph for one of the major bands of the late 20th century. This really would be the last studio album by Rainbow, Blackmore soon deciding that his future lay in the Renaissance folk rock of Blackmore's Night.

Easy Livin | 4/5 |


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