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Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow iTunes Tracks

Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow

Born 14th April 1945 in Weston-super-Mare, England, hard-rock supremo axeman RITCHIE BLACKMORE has come a long way since his rudimentary days as a workhorse session man in the 60s. From co-founding hard-rock legends DEEP PURPLE in early 1968, to his time with the equally arena-sonic RAINBOW (between 1975 and ’85), back to DEEP PURPLE, RAINBOW (again), and beyond via Celtic-folkies BLACKMORE’S NIGHT, the guitarist has had his fair share of the classic-rock spoils.
Back in the 60s (buoyed by guitar lessons from the great Big Jim Sullivan), Ritchie was enlisted by the legendary producer Joe Meek, who, in turn, employed his services for up-and-coming Brit acts such as HEINZ, SCREAMING LORD SUTCH, Neil Christian, Glenda Collins, etc., while he also found time to perform in a more solid band The Outlaws. His first big break came when former SEARCHERS drummer-turned-vocalist Chris Curtis invited the guitarist to join his new Roundabout project, although this was proved short-lived as Messrs BLACKMORE, JON LORD, Ian Paice, Rod Evans and Nick Simper broke free to form DEEP PURPLE. For several years, with an array of personnel changes and conflicts (IAN GILLAN then DAVID COVERDALE would duly front the band), the loudest rock band in the world blasted their way to the top via classic tracks such as `Smoke On The Water’, `Child In Time’, `Hush’ and their initial monster hit `Black Night’.
By the time 1974’s `Stormbringer’ album crashed unceremoniously, the guitar guru was plotting a new venture in RITCHIE BLACKMORE’S RAINBOW. Formed the following year with New York rock band Elf as his backers, including the esteemed metal warbler Ronnie James Dio, the group unleashed their eponymous debut album, RITCHIE BLACKMORE’S RAINBOW (1975) {*6}. While ‘Purple lumbered towards imminent implosion inviting all and sundry to “Come Taste The Band”, the man in black took the brontosaurus-rock blueprint to mystical new heights; the chunky `Man On The Silver Mountain’ being the prime example. Dio was more than capable of handling the medieval metal and mystical muscle, the wee man producing solid performances on `Catch The Rainbow’, `The Temple Of The King’ and `16th Century Greensleeves’.
By the release of the seminal RAINBOW RISING (1976) {*8}, the ubiquitous Cozy Powell was on the drum stool; other new recruits comprised Tony Carey (keyboards) and Jimmy Bain (bass). The record – released under the slightly clipped moniker of Blackmore’s Rainbow – featured such enduring RAINBOW stage favourites as `Tarot Woman’, `Stargazer’ and the equally lengthy `A Light In The Black’, arguably the most cosmically cohesive set of the guitarist’s (and DIO’s) career. Even the shorter, un-spacey 3-minute dirges `Run With The Wolf’, `Starstruck’ and `Do You Close Your Eyes’ were on top of their game and comparable anything from the halcyon days of DEEP PURPLE.
After an ill-advised cash-in live double-album, ON STAGE (1977) {*4} – featuring exhaustive renditions from the past two years and an old ‘Purple nugget `Mistreated’ thrown in – more line-up changes ensued; Bob Daisley finally stepping in for Mark Clarke (who’d temporarily replaced Bain) and David Stone was now the new keyboard man in place of Carey.
Studio set number three LONG LIVE ROCK’N’ROLL (1978) {*7} was another hard-rock gemstone, spawning two UK Top 40 hits through the title track and the hard-driving `L.A. Connection’; their studio attempt of `Kill The King’ (a fave from “On Stage”) was almost punk and a proto-metal exercise in thrash, while in contrast the bluesy `Rainbow Eyes’ was BLACKMORE at his most delicate and sedate.
Surprisingly, it wasn’t until DIO had departed for BLACK SABBATH that RAINBOW enjoyed their greatest success. Recruiting ex-Marbles vocalist Graham Bonnet as a replacement, and enlisting old `Purple sparring partner ROGER GLOVER on bass and Don Airey on keys, the band hit the UK Top 10 twice in a row at the turn of the decade via `Since You Been Gone’ (penned by Russ Ballard) and `All Night Long’. Watertight, marvellously crafted melodic rock, both songs featured on the DOWN TO EARTH (1979) {*6} album, a record that again scoured the galaxy for inspiration through sci-fi-themed lyrics that might’ve been better suited for DIO. Cozy Powell left the following year, as did Bonnet as the 80s were now upon us.
Ritchie duly recruited Joe Lynn Turner as frontman as their next single `I Surrender’ (another from the pen of Ballard) was their biggest hit to date, an epic slice of American-influenced rock that stands among pop-metal’s greatest moments. The album DIFFICULT TO CURE (1981) {*4} made the UK Top 5 although it was clear RAINBOW had adopted a more commercial approach in an attempt to break Stateside; the rock-by-numbers `Can’t Happen Here’ also found its way into the Top 20.
Containing the odd run-of-the-mill hit, subsequent efforts STRAIGHT BETWEEN THE EYES (1982) {*5} and BENT OUT OF SHAPE (1983) {*4} carried on the RAINBOW no frills (or thrills) template with scant regard for anything to boost their flagging credibility. With no sign of a pot of gold at the end of this particular rainbow, BLACKMORE eventually folded the band in 1984 amid plans to resurrect the classic (Mk.II) DEEP PURPLE line-up. Ten years on (again leaving ‘Purple to fester in the mire), the guitar wizard resurrected another version of RITCHIE BLACKMORE’S RAINBOW for 1995 comeback album, STRANGER IN US ALL {*5}, one purely for diehard fans from both ends of RB’s musical spectrum.
The veteran guitarist took a radically different tack on his future folky venture via BLACKMORE’S NIGHT. 1998’s `Shadow Of The Moon’ 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. Despite some ridicule from music biz boffins, Ritchie has continued his sojourn towards finding the ultimate rock chord.
© MC Strong 1994-2006/GRD // rev-up MCS Dec2011-2014

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