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Rainbow - Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow CD (album) cover




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3.73 | 300 ratings

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4 stars 1975, and Blackmore had finally had a terminal fallout with Deep Purple, although it seemed to mainly be the funky direction set by Hughes & Coverdale that really lay at the heart of the problem. So, he formed a band with himself and Elf, led by the, well, elf-like Ronnie James Dio from the States.

Right from the word go, with the eternal classic Man On The Silver Mountain, Blackmore began to set his imprint of a band going back to basics, focusing on hard rock as an art form, with blues and folk based leanings. He also, of course, set the ultimately terminal course of his baby by beginning to sack anyone who he didn't like the look of first thing in the morning. By the time this rather good debut was released, only he and Dio remained, with the remainder of Elf probably feeling like the jilted bride at the alter after the promise of future riches being blown away.

This is a solid album, without ever really approaching true classic status. Rather, it should be regarded as the initial statement by two heavy rock gods laying down their initial template, from which great things would be built.

The aforementioned opener is a genuine classic, still sung by Dio on stage up until the point of his passing away. Sixteenth Century Greensleeves, with its medieval influence, is a very early foretaste of the direction Blackmore would take when he finally left Purple and hard rock forever and moved in with his missus. Temple Of The King is the one almost forgotten Rainbow track that every completionist should definitely own, a beautifully sung track with subtle backing by Blackmore, who makes his instrument sing with the vocalist.

My personal favourite is Catch The Rainbow, extended to ridiculous lengths on the classic On Stage live double album, but here a track of exceptional feeling, maturity, and heralding, to me, the onset of a writing partnership that was to define the maturation of hard rock in the late 1970's and influence a huge number of post rock bands in later years. Dio rarely sounded better, and the true musicianship of Blackmore is very much to the fore.

Elsewhere, the album closer, Still I'm Sad, a cover of a classic Yardbirds track, is poignant when one considers the split from Purple and extremely well performed. Much of the rest is simply high quality mid 1970's rock, nothing more, nothing less, no bad thing if, like me, you were awakening to the joys of such music at about this time.

This is a rather difficult album to rate. It is, in parts, excellent, but, in others, a template upon which to build greater things. I'll round up 3.5 to four stars simply because it is an important album that any fan of hard rock with progressive leanings should own, if only to see where one of the greatest exponents of the genre at that time started it all off.

lazland | 4/5 |


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