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




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3.73 | 300 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars There's a Rainbow rising

For this their first album, the band were actually called Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow, emphasising that this was very much his baby. Part of the reasoning behind this was that the album is essentially a Blackmore solo album, with the band Elf, lead by vocalist Ronnie James Dio, providing the backing band.

While Blackmore had not actually left Deep Purple when this album was recorded, the writing was very clearly on the wall. His dissatisfaction with the sub- standard "Stormbringer" left him seeking an alternative outlet for his own preferences, and the success of this album simply helped to accelerate his departure.

Blackmore and Dio hit it off straight away as a song-writing partnership, coming up with all but two of the tracks here. Dio's main contribution to that side was in the lyrics, which are based in fantasy and legend. While the opening "Man on the silver mountain" and other tracks such as "Snake charmer" (which has an uncanny resemblance to songs from the Coverdale/Hughes Deep Purple) are steeped in the power rock of Deep Purple, there is an admirable diversity to the tracks on this album.

The feature track "Catch the rainbow" is a reflective ballad which swims in mellotron (or mellotrom as the sleeve describes it) and features a superb vocal performance by Dio. Blackmore's guitar work here is notably restrained and low in the mix. Other highlights include "Sixteenth century Greensleeves", a hint lyrically of what was to come with Blackmore's Night, and an instrumental cover of the Yardbirds "Still I'm sad". "Temple of the king" also focuses on the acoustic side of the band, the story-telling lyrics painting a wonderful picture of mediaeval life. Blackmore adds a beautifully delicate lead guitar solo to the song.

Given the heavy rock backgrounds of the musicians, as a whole this is a surprisingly light album. It does have its heavier moments of course ("If you don't like rock'n'roll" is another), but the restrained subtlety on show is what differentiates this release from its successors.

I have to admit, I have loved this album since its release over 30 years ago. Even today, I find it as inspired and listenable as it was then. OK, so apart from "Catch the rainbow", there are not many hints of prog here, but the album set the standard for many bands who did subsequently explore prog territories.

Easy Livin | 4/5 |


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