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The last album featuring the the powerhouse trio of Ronnie James Dio, Ritchie Blackmore, and Cozy Powell is one hell of a way to go out. All three turn in stellar performances and make this a top notch release. What separates this record from the previous two of the Dio era are the more complex, unconventional song structure and guitar parts of Blackmore.
Ritchie Blackmore is a great guitar player. That was probably the most obvious statement one could make, but the songs "Gates of Babylon", "The Shed (Subtle)", and "Kill the King" separate Blackmore from any othe guitarist. From the unique opening to "Gates of Babylon" to the walking, thumping of "The Shed"; these are cuts that not too many guitarists can emulate or achieve. The man is one of a kind and one of the best and there is no better vocalist to complement the Man in Black than Ronnie James Dio.
Dio does it all on this album. He can do aggressive vocals like in "Kill the King" or melodic, catchy vocals in "Lady of the Lake" or "Long Live Rock 'n' Roll." He can go along with a fast number like "Sensitive to Light" or carry a number like "Rainbow Eyes" with his smooth and mesmerizing voice. The man can nail every note and can sing any kind of a song that Blackmore throws at him. He excels in voice control and perfectly sings off of Blackmore's riffing. This is truly a magnificent performance from Dio.
The other member of the tremendous three of course is the one and only Cozy Powell. The calculated way he attacks the drum kit is remarkable. He found a balance to not do too much and attacks at the most opportune times. The perfect example of this is "Kill the King." The sound is so fierce and accelerating that the head-banging will make your neck sore and that is a fact.
This album would be perfect, but a couple of songs just do not live up to what these three men can do. While "Long Live Rock 'n' Roll" is a good opener and very anthemic, the chrous does become a little repetitive and should have been shortened. "L.A Connection" is a poor, plodding rocker that is an obvious song to get into the mainstream. It is a big disappointment, especially considering the other cuts found here. The last song that falls on its face is the odd closing "Rainbow Eyes." I mentioned before of the remarkable performance Dio gives on the song, but that is all there is...just Dio. There is no guitar or drums throughout the seven minute song. The only instrument is a violin and flute and that is unacceptable!
This release is a shooting star for metal and has many enjoyable moments to take in. It is very unfortunate that this lineup could not stay together because there could have been many more incredible releases from this powerhouse, but then there would have been no Heaven and Hell, so there are some positives out of that breakup. One thing is for certain though and that is: Long Live Rock 'n' 'Roll and Long Live Rainbow!