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Blackmore’s Night

A veteran of two giants of hard-rock, DEEP PURPLE and RAINBOW, guitarist extraordinaire RITCHIE BLACKMORE took a surprise musical u-turn when, in the mid-90s, he ventured into medieval-type folk music with BLACKMORE’s NIGHT.
SHADOW OF THE MOON (1998) {*6} was the first recorded fruits of his collaboration with musical partner/wife-to-be Candice Night, a total departure from his halcyon heavy-metal heydays. The album found Ritchie and his young/20-something vocalist/lyricist from the Big Apple exploring renaissance-era music via elements of new age, world, rock and of course, medieval folk. Such distinctly un-rock’n’roll instrumentation as pennywhistle, hurdy-gurdy and mandolin contributed to the ambience while JETHRO TULL’s Ian Anderson even made an appearance with a blast of his trademark flute. Fans thinking this would a one-off sojourn before returning to his day-job in DEEP PURPLE would be proved wrong.
Written with the anticipation of a full stage tour, sophomore effort UNDER A VIOLET MOON (1999) {*5} was similar if less restrained, BLACKMORE again demonstrating his mastery of the acoustic guitar. In a hitherto unprecedented burst of creativity, the man continued his immersion in archaic motifs with 2001’s FIRES AT MIDNIGHT {*6}, although how DYLAN’s `The Times They Are A-Changin’’ fit into the latter’s a-hey-nonny-nonny medieval tapestry was anyone’s guess.
Recorded in the Netherlands a year earlier in full-medieval-jackets, 2003’s live double PAST TIMES WITH GOOD COMPANY {*5} (within which RAINBOW’s `16th Century Greensleeves’ was an admittedly better fit) was for a select, ye olde audience, many of which might’ve even gave credence or worth to the inclusive of DEEP PURPLE nugget `Soldier Of Fortune’. Studio set number four, GHOST OF A ROSE (2003) {*4}, took further steps back into folk’s deep cavern of time, its most modern ditty stemming from disastrous renditions of JETHRO TULL’s `Rainbow Blues’ and JOAN BAEZ’s `Diamonds And Rust’.
This reinvention was getting beyond a joke, as even a compilation BEYOND THE SUNSET: THE ROMANTIC COLLECTION {*6} was thought worthy of a release in 2004.
The oblivious pattern was continued for 2006’s renaissance-inspired THE VILLAGE LANTERNE {*6}, a record which again revisited music from his ye olde DEEP PURPLE days (`Child In Time’) – segued alongside `Mond Tanz’ and RAINBOW (`Street Of Dreams’); further folk bonuses came via the almost Park Lane version of RALPH McTELL’s `Streets Of London’.
Putting aside the obvious folky traits of releasing an album of festive dirges by way of foreign-only WINTER CAROLS (2006) {*4}, BLACKMORE’S NIGHT were again in Midsummer Night’s Dream mood on SECRET VOYAGE (2008) {*4}, re-treading staples such as `Can’t Help Falling In Love’ (Elvis had indeed turned over) and `Far Far Away’ to embarrassing effect. Taking up with Sony Records, the pastoral and sentimental AUTUMN SKY (2010) {*6} gave off a Celtic-folk air; the strained cover of The KINKS’ `Celluloid Heroes’ showing what maybe a certain RAY DAVIES could’ve attempted – yeah, and with purple pigs flying high.
On the back of a solo set by CANDICE NIGHT (`Reflections’ 2011), and a Euro-friendly group double-CD, A KNIGHT IN YORK (2012) {*6}, 2013 saw yet another studio BLACKMORE’S NIGHT record, DANCER AND THE MOON {*6}. Bolstered by several neo-classical/folk cuts penned together, the husband-and-wife team tried their hand at three covers:- RANDY NEWMAN’s `I Think It’s Going To Rain Today’, URIAH HEEP’s `Lady In Black’ and the traditional `The Ashgrove’.
Medieval nights for medieval lords and ladies of 2015, ALL OUR YESTERDAYS {*6} was Ritchie and Candice’s chamber-rock taste of courteous Celtic-folk. On one side of the spectrum jig-a-jig friendly a la `Allan Yn N Fan’, the other grandiose and Baroque a la `Darker Shade Of Black’ (very PROCOL HARUM), the obvious couple to talk the talk were re-vamps of `Moonlight Shadow’ (from the pen of MIKE OLDFIELD) and SONNY & CHER’s `I Got You Babe’, both best suited for “Shrek V” – think on!
© MC Strong/MCS 2011-Sep2015

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