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This is THE definitive metal/rock album, certainly the best classic metal release studio album ever, in my opinion. It has the perfect blend of songs. The vast majority being hard rockin', drivin' metal pieces, with some blues influence, though far less than bands like Led Zeppelin, for example. In fact, the classical influence is far more prominent here (although not as much as on 'Rising'), and the thrilling, remarkably fresh-sounding songs (well, most of them are) are because of that classical influence. Blackmore was classically trained in the guitar, and it shows. His solos are mindboggling in their speed and sound, he uses some very interesting scales to add spice to them, which is why, for me, this album and Rising would both be in my top 5 list (no. 1 would be this album) of great rock guitar albums. Ritchie simply oozes class and sounds very comfortable. Of course, riff-wise, he was never as inventive as Jimmy Page, but he does pull some remarkably good riffs out of the bag here. Anyway, on to the songs.
1. Long Live Rock N' Roll - This is a great up-tempo rocker, does exactly what it says on the tin! Extremely fun, and it's so catchy without being just a pop song, like later Bonnet- and Turner-era songs (btw, I don't actually hate the later era material either). Great guitar solo, too.
2. Lady Of The Lake - This sounds vaguely Led Zeppelin (Physical Graffiti, Houses Of The Holy era), and the plodding riff is very heavy-sounding. The chorus is very memorable. One of the high points of the album. Very smooth, effective Guitar solo.
3. LA Connection - I think this is the weakest song on the album, though not a bad song per se. A mid-paced rocker, has some nice piano lines to accentuate the jazzy, classy sort of sound. A good song to fill the much-needed gap between the slightly dark subject matter of 'Lady...' and the even darker lyrical content of 'Gates Of Babylon'.
4. Gates Of Babylon - Centrepiece of the album along with 'Kill The King'. Song about walking through the gates of Babylon and the devil and stuff. An amazing song, could be Rainbow's best ever, especially with the orchestra and the guitar solo. And what a guitar solo! My favourite guitar solo ever, Ritchie's very finest, even including Deep Purple-era songs. You just have to hear it to believe it. Malmsteen loves this too, but butchers his version. The original is so subtle and builds up on an arabian/eastern scale solo and then, ... BAM! The most amazing and original rock guitar part you'll ever hear. This song and solo deserves so much more recognition. (like in Japan, where it is recognised as a classic)
5. Kill The King - On the original vinyl, you heard the amazing 'Gates Of Babylon' and thought 'hey, the second side can't be nearly as good as what I've just heard on the first' and so you don't expect much (''Kill the King'? cool song title, probably just another storming rocker.'), but boy, does this surpass all expectations. This is the complete version, unlike the version played on the 'Rising' tour, and for me, this is so much better. The opening guitar part is just genius, simple but so effective, and deceptively hard to play. Dio's vocals hit the spot, so aggressive without resorting to shouting. Cozy Powell's drumming is so powerful and incredible, the blueprint for so many drummers today. He more or less pioneered the double bass drum technique, I think. The solo is very rapid, and the ending is perfect, you can see where Iron Maiden took the basis for their driving sound in the last 5 bars of this song. It does sound a bit like Aces High, for example. One of the original Speed-Metal songs (along with Deep Purple's 'Fireball', though Fireball came first)
6. The Shed (Subtle) - Bizarre title, as it doesn't mention sheds, and it's not a very subtle song either, a heavy rock/metal tune to follow another. The intro guitar solo is just cool, and a good song to boot. Tends to be overshadowed by Kill The King, but it's still a good song.
7. Sensitive To Light - Very competent rocker, a party tune, in the vein of 'Do You Close Your Eyes' from 'Rising'. The skill of Rainbow is blending the epic with the rockin' on the same album. I actually really like this song. Dio's vocals are great, and great lead guitar work from Ritchie. A great groove will hook you in this song.
8. Rainbow Eyes - Depends on whether or not you like ballads, I really do, but you'll love this or hate it. I, personally, love it as one of the high points of the album. Very emotional, and a great vocal delivery from Ronnie. The guitar is so beautiful it makes me want to cry. Flute and String quartet combine to give this a mediaeval feel, and makes it the second song on the album to feature a classical ensemble. A real treat for people who appreciate good music, and an excellent way to finish an overall heavy album.
An absolute classic, has my vote as the best rock album ever. No bad songs on the album, ends (arguably) better than it starts (maybe not, actually), and that's why it's such a satisfying experience to listen through end-to-end. If you're even mildly interested, but it now. You will not be disappointed, I guarantee it. Something for everyone. For metalheads, Kill The King and Sensitive to Light, for lovers of darker music, Lady of the Lake and Gates of Babylon, for those who like ballads, Rainbow Eyes, and for Ritchie fans, evry song, but especially Gates of Babylon, Kill the King and Rainbow Eyes. I only don't give it 100, as a matter of policy. so treat the 99 as a 100