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As some of the earliest purveyors of heavy metal music, Rainbow left behind a catalog that is truly remarkable and unforgettable to say the least. Sure, the AOR/melodic rock/pop music of their post-Dio years hold up pretty damn well, but their first three releases would shape the future of an entire genre of music.
What's to be said about Dio and Ritchie Blackmore that hasn't been said already? The pair was a match made in heaven or Valhalla however you see it. Dio's vocals are truly out of this world. They are beautiful yet ferocious, powerful and tugging at the listener's heartstrings. They can make us laugh or cry, smile or singalong. Dio is part of a small handful of singers who can convey such emotions over his listeners. Meanwhile, Ritchie Blackmore was enjoying his newly found freedom from the then funk inspired Deep Purple by shredding his brains out like he did on previous Deep Purple releases such as Deep Purple in Rock, Machine Head, and Burn. The solos and riffs are endless. Ritchie Blackmore was an fountain of metal guitar virtuosity so to speak.
While Ritchie and Dio dominate this release as well as the self titled release and Long Live Rock 'n' Roll, we need not forget the other musicians on this record. Tony Carey gives his only metal performance on this record and it's pretty amazing. He helps kick off the record with a proggy and spacey Keith Emerson inspired intro on “Tarot Woman”. The rest is history. Also, Tony gives us an absolutely facemelting duel of keyboards vs. guitars with Ritchie Blackmore on “A Light in the Black”. Now I think I know where Yngwie and Jens Johanson got it from. Tony would go on to have a respectable career in progressive rock, but never match the quality of his performance on this record. Cozy Powell's drums keep the beat fast and steady as they should be. Who can forget the proto-speed metal drumming of “A Light in the Black” and the flanged drums of “Stargazer”? I'm going to assume that Jimmy Bain is playing bass on here, but it's so hard to tell between the epic guitars of Blackmore and mind boggling vocals of Dio. Not much to say about him.
This is not my favorite Rainbow album (my favorite would be Long Live Rock 'n' Roll), but how can I not give it 100%? Even if I hated Rainbow, which I couldn't imagine for my life, I would still have to give a 100% rating for its influence alone. Without this record, it is very safe to say that power metal, speed metal, thrash metal, progressive metal, etc. would've never existed.
This is the greatest thing Dio ever put his name on. Some will point to Heaven and Hell, some point to Holy Diver, and a few even point to Dehumanizer, but this is it. This album is very good, and as close to consistently great as Dio ever achieved. Most of the songs are good to great, and this is the best instrumentation and songwriting Dio ever worked with. Yes, this album is short, but much of it is great.
Dio is a monolith on this album. His vocals soar and shout into the heavens and at fate. His range, his roar, his emotions, and his bite are all at their apex and he weaves them perfectly. Vocally, there are very few albums to rival this. Less than ten during the 70's, and no more than that during the 80's. His lyrics are very good as well, mysterious women and sorcerers. I am somewhat reminded of Uriah Heep with these lyrics, but Dio's aggression shines through even the words. The only problem with them would be his repetition on songs such as Stargazer. It's a great song, but he repeats himself far too much.
Blackmore is spectacular on here as well. His solos are fantastic on Stargazer and others, tasteful mixtures of blues and classical. These were some of the best solos around at the time, only Schenker could match him for melodicism, only Uli could rival him in neo-classical technique, and Dimeola was the only one other than those two who could rival him for technicality at high-speed. His riffing is quite good as well. Combined with the keyboards, he creates great atmosphere on Tarot Women and Stargazer, and Starstruck is very fun. This was possibly Ritchie's peak in terms of skill and creativity. Rock music has not seen many guitarists rise to the level that Ritchie did throughout the 70's.
As for as the other people here, Cozy is pretty good. He does a very good job on most of these songs. He isn't hyper-technical, but he can still squeeze in some good fills along with playing aggressive and keeping time. Add in that he can also groove when the song calls for it, and you have a very good drummer. Powell often ranks amongst the best metal drummers, and he deserves the praise. The rest of this instrumentation is less impressive. The bass is not very loud, nor does he do anything. The keyboards are loud, but other than a few atmospheric touches, doesn't earn its place. It's possible that Ritchie did some of this himself, which wouldn't surprise me in the least.
As mentioned before, this is as consistent as anything with Dio ever was. Part of this is probably the short run-time, but that is besides the point. The bluesy rocker is below-average, but that is the only thing that damages the consistency, and it's short. It actually strikes me as a harbinger of the large number of filler songs that would populate Dio's solo albums. The first song and the last two are metal classics. They have great atmosphere, guitar playing, vocals, and drumming. The rest is more above-average. I enjoy Starstruck, but it's not really anything to get worked up over. The atmosphere on these songs is excellent as well. The cover pretty much sums it up, powerful and majestic. Compared to the previous record, this is more aggressive, and it's more epic compared to the successor.
I would say that this is a very good to great album. It's pretty consistent, but it's short. Just over half an hour of great music is fine in death metal, but not really in hard-rock and heavy metal. The music just isn't built for that kind of brevity. That's probably the bulk of the ten point deduction, is that this kind of music should be longer. The rest is Close Your Eyes, but at least it's very short as well. This is the essential Dio and Rainbow release, that every early and power metal or hard-rock fan should hear. I would say that this is basically essential for those three groups of fans, both for the music contained, and for the influence it would have.
Rainbow is one of those bands that has two of early heavy metal's biggest heavyweights- Ronnie James Dio and Ritchie Blackmore- yet manages to slip under the radar of most heavy metal fans and music critics. Whether this was the result of Dio's work with Black Sabbath and solo work overshadowing Rainbow, or simply the fact that Rainbow had gone AOR when Dio left, I can't be certain. It is a disappointment that Rainbow isn't cited as often, since they had arguably the biggest impact on the sub-genre we today call power metal, much of it coming from this single album, "Rising."
Historical rhetoric aside, "Rising" does what every great album should, by taking you on a journey away from your boring existence into another place altogether. To this end, it does so by utilizing not just the talents of one, but all of the musicians in the band, bringing the overall sound of Rainbow in a fairly consistent and realized direction. Ritchie Blackmore's combination of hard rock riffs with neo-classical soloing and harmonized solos leads the musical journey, with Dio's powerful vocals supplying the narrative. Everything comes together, without ever sounding superfluous, indulgent or (in the case of many of Rainbow's power metal disciples) down right cheesy. Even the inclusion of a keyboard solo in the opener "Tarot Woman" makes sense when the guitars come in and you realize where the song is taking you.
Although filled with fantasy elements, the lyricism in Rainbow is not quite the ham fisted dungeons and dragons fare people tend to attach to the power metal that sprung from Rainbow (including Dio's own solo work). Instead, Dio relies more on mysticism, metaphor and subtlety, with "Stargazer" telling the fable of a wizard who demands a tower be built for him to fly from, only for him to fall and die like any mortal man. Not all the lyrics are quite so heavy handed, with the song "Do You Close Your Eyes" serving as a short hard rocker. I suppose you could argue that the song is out of place on this album and, in light of songs like "Run with the Wolf", "Stargazer" and "A Light in the Black", that would be a valid point. However, upon closer examination of all the lyrics, I find that the chief lyrical theme in "Rising" is less sword and sorcery and more about mystery and facing the unknown. A man's fear of an obsessed female fan in "Starstruck" or the sexual curiosity in "Do You Close Your Eyes" can be just as much of a struggle as facing witchcraft (Tarot Woman), mystical forces (Run with the Wolf), Tyranny (Stargazer) and the loss of a comrade (A Light in the Black). The difference is simply the scale of the conflict and the lens with which we choose to view it, and that Dio and Blackmore had the ability to make mundane subjects fit in a grander framework is, to me, extraordinary.
For fans of power metal, I feel that this is not only a great album to have in their collection, but an important one. The blend of classical influences and epic vocals and lyrics that has become a staple of the genre originated in this project four years before Iron Maiden had even recorded and album, and the guitar driven closer "A Light in the Black" could very well be the seed from which Blind Guardian's "Somewhere Far Beyond" and DragonForce's "Through the Fire and the Flames" sprung. Even if you are a metal fan for whom those songs mean nothing, the best way to understand the present state of the genre is to understand it's roots. Released in 1976, when both Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin were past their primes and two years before Judas Priest's "Stained Class", Rainbow's sophomore triumph could be seen as the essential missing link between early metal and the speed and power of NWOBHM.
Personal Rating: m/ m/ m/ m/ out of m/ m/ m/ m/
By the mid-70’s, the classic rock heroes had become clumsy, predictable and pompous, they got stuck in the clichés they created, clear signs of the end of an era. The new times demanded something different and fresh, away from psychedelic, bluesy or progressive rock. Punk soon became popular in the UK, giving some clues of how it should be done: simple, aggressive, with attitude. Blackmore was aware of the need to change the old 70’s ways, as his departure from the funky Purple of Hughes and Coverdale proved. His band debut was totally amusing and convincing, though Rainbow’s distinctive superior sound wasn’t there yet. Here is where all glory and splendor started, this album title couldn’t be more appropriate.
A huge improvement is what this record meant for Rainbow. Epic tracks like “Stargazer” or “A Light In The Black” speak for themselves. Totally progressive, intricate at times and advanced for the time they were done. Blackmore was determined to increase the complexity of his music, trying to construct everything by a more elaborated song writing process and a completely perfectionist execution. The results were magnificent, as that couple of exquisite majestic metal anthems demonstrate. They’re immaculately defined, featuring an absolutely solid configuration of instrumental grace, with rich structures, well-chosen breaks and extensive sequences for the incredible pickin’ parts. Arrangements are fascinating, including those made particularly for the special guest of the Münchner Philharmoniker, which isn’t only making background noise on “Stargazer”, its contribution to create that cathartic climax was as vital as any of the band members’ instruments. Ritchie made clear riffs wouldn’t take all attention in his project, although some are leading the pack, huge and devastating but still refined and classy. The Man in Black tried his best, he could do no wrong, and his guitar lines are spectacular, combined in stunning perfection with Tony Carey’s stratospheric keyboards, performing sweet harmonies together that provide this stuff of a touch of melody. The much more technical instrumental passages are also admirable, an exhibition of virtuosism and talent nobody else could match by that time. However, there’s time for less complicated numbers here, like “Do You Close Your Eyes” and “Run With The Wolf”, both in the style of the previous record material, with Dio’s charming vocals becoming the main attraction. So, 6 superb compositions in total that went into a new level, escaping from early 70’s rock topics, unveiling a new stage for the subgenre.
This doesn’t sound like Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin or Uriah Heep, Blackmore wanted to avoid any similarities with his previous works so he followed an alternative direction. Obviously, he still gives his music difficulty; the length of most of these tracks makes clear he still wanted instrumental progression and technique to be omnipresent. Certainly, this is no primitive attempt, the precision of the whole performance and the excellence of the arrangements are the result of a previous song writing hard work. The many solos themselves prove it, all so rich and amazingly developed, there’s no trace of improvisation at all. The decision of using an orchestra, the outstanding classical/baroque music influence, the texture of those keyboards, all definitely creative unusual elements Rainbow were the first to conceive. Because we are talking about something made in 1976! Who else did it that way? These guys created a whole subgenre with these cuts: power metal, a bunch of years before Hammerfall, Angel Dust, Grave Digger, Liege Lord, Paradox or Stratovarius played their first notes. All the characteristics are here: this is is technical, melodic and fast, truly fast. “A Light In The Black” in fact features one of the earliest total speed metal double bass-drum rhythms in the solos sequence. Curiously, the only who did something similar before was Ian Paice on the Fireball title-track, what a coincidence. Blackmore always seemed to be around when the essence of heavy metal was created, let’s give him the credits he deserves for the development (I’d rather say creation) of metal, these 6 memorable compositions demand that recognition. And of course, we can’t forget about the immense vocal work of Dio, who reaches perfection, contributing essentially to obtain that unique Rainbow musical identity. Those cool lyrics of sword and sorcery also made this work surprisingly fascinating.
A supreme masterpiece of metal, this is where it all really started, the undisputed living proof of Rainbow’s supremacy in those bad times for rock. With Deep Purple In Rock, Ritchie brought a refreshing new sound based on aggression and strength, with Rising he contributed tremendously to develop a new level of heavy metal, more sophisticated and melodic. Both albums are essential to understand the evolution of the subgenre in the 70’s, their huge influence as well was constant in most of the upcoming decade new sounds and still it is. Although Rainbow never get the recognition they deserve, scandalous...
Rising is a legendary album. Rainbow itself may not be as well-remembered as it should be, but Rising and Long Live Rock And Roll are unforgettable, and their influence unshakable. Rising is almost unanimously agreed to be their best album, and I'm here to discuss why.
Hard rock music in the 70's was great, there's no denying that. This was when the music scene was ruled by greats like Queen, Led Zeppelin, and the Rolling Stones. Heavy metal, on the other hand, was limited to slower, Heavier bands like Deep Purple and Black Sabbath. Rainbow's Rising managed to bride the gap between the two amazingly well. The number of styles at work here is immense. From progressive to classical to folk to just traditional hard rock and metal, Rising spans countless genres.
The opening track, Tarot Woman, is fantastic and, in a sense, daring. Few bands at this time used synthesizers in such an energetic ways, and the minute-and-a-half opening on Tarot Woman sets the spacey, dreamy mood that persists through much of the album. The cello on Stargazer is implemented seamlessly, and you can even hear reminders of Stargazer in some of Iron Maiden's more progressive albums. There is just a ton of courage here, everything feels like a roll of the dice.
Ritchie Blackmore really lets out on Rising. I honestly think that he does his best guitar work ever on this very album, even better than most of Deep Purple's best stuff. His alien riffs on Run With The Wolf and Starstruck are truly a testament to how creative a guitarist Blackmore is. There's a memorable solo on just about every song.
Ronnie James Dio is fantastic as always. The greatest metal vocalist ever is at the top of his game. The vocals he belts out on Rising would never be topped until years later, on his magnum opus anthem Heaven And Hell (Yes, I know he was technically in Black Sabbath, but he just stole the show). Songwriting is truly fantastic. Dio is probably the only man who could ever sing songs about rainbows, magic and faeries, and still have it be true metal. It's almost surreal to hear him sing a rather simple song about sex on Do You Close Your Eyes, but that's still a pretty catchy little tune. Probably the weakest on Rising, but for most songs that would be an honor.
Rising is a pretty short album, but it uses that to its benefit. Instead of cramming as much material as possible into Rising just to keep treading water, Rainbow recorded six tracks, all of which were completely memorable in their own right. There is NO filler on Rising. It may look a bit short initially, but it's entirely worth it. To make an analogy, it's like comparing a big bag of potato chips to a fine dessert. A big bag of potato chips (For example, Pantera's Far Beyond Driven) would be initially very enjoyable, but eventually you would just zone out and start eating the chips almost unconsciously. You may not notice when the bag is empty; you may not even care. It simply lacks much beyond the surface value. Whereas if you really take the time to savor the fine dessert and appreciate it for what it is, you truly enjoy it more and think better of it than the potato chips. However, if you eat the fine dessert with too much haste, it won't be as satisfying. In short, you really need to appreciate Rainbow's Rising as more than a time killer, but a full fledged EXPERIENCE.
Rising is a groundbreaking album that incorporates tons of different musical styles. Many musicians would imitate it, but no one would ever truly recapture the purely intangible, indescribable qualities that make Rising a masterpiece beyond measure. If you dare call yourself a metal fan, you MUST own Rainbow's Rising.
No matter how many times you listen to this, there isn't anyway to feel boredom or melancholy. As a matter of fact, Rainbow Rising is one of the greatest (if not THE greatest) album ever made in the history of heavy metal. There is nothing that can reach such a virtuoso and technical atmosphere without entering in the pretentious world (i.e. Dream Theater or the late Rush) being at the same time catchy and ponderous. Yes, this is it, the cumma sum laude moment of Ritchie Blackmore, maybe the most talented guitar player of the heavy metal world, the moment where he finally realized the full power and energy he could produce from a music band. With Ronnie James Dio (say no more) and Cozy Powell on the drums, there isn't absolutely nothing to complain here, only loving and tenderness can be the feelings towards this piece of magic.
The opening theme for "Tarot Woman", that dreamy atmospheric keyboarding that leads us slowly into the universe of Rainbow, is beyond reach. Not even Jon Lord's rubato theme for Knocking at your Back Door, nor any other keyboarding intro from whoever you want to name can do the thing this intro does. And when this slowly fades away, giving place to that very known Fender Strat, well, we are simply witnessing the rise of a major force, something beyond reach, beyond imagination. Cozy, as usual, delivers the best and Ronnie James Dio, the most loved vocalist in the metal realm shoot us with one of his finest performances ever. (And, to make this clear, we have a technical draw between this song and the next five ones from this same album, because in Rainbow Rising, Dio shows us why he is the total god of metal singing). Can you believe this?
Just after that witchcraft made by Blackmore and colleagues, we get a near-4 minute epic. Can you believe this? A kinda-short epic? Yes, and bloody hell it is a good one. I'm talking about "Run With the Wolf". Traditional metal with a touch of doom and the lyrics are moody and totally medieval with the most of the simplicity, Blackmore and crew roll it away while Dio slashes us with his unique voice. Another masterpiece.
The usual heavy bluesy formula by Ritchie has place here once more. "Starstruck" has a funny chorus, easy lyrics and maybe one of the most lick-y and aggressive riffs by Blackmore. A high score here for Cozy, who blasts it all away "metallizing" the song with his drumming. Then, we receive the catchy and more friendly sound of "Do You Close Your Eyes", even if may sound weak in the whole album, it never gets pale and actually, is a nice way to prepare us all for the cataclysmic rage that's about to come. An enjoyable filler, there is not much to say about it.
Cozy Powell, one of the pioneers in modern metal drumming, gives us a powerful solo which prepares us for the coming thunder. An outrageous headcutter and from-beyond riff by the String Sorcerer (though with some similarities with the one featured in Deep Purple's Stormbringer) mixed with the bass lines and the keyboard-filling chords provides the field for another out-of-Earth song by Rainbow with Dio swallowing and dropping everything away like the vortex of a tornado. "Stargazer", with its lyrical theme shaped in medieval moods, is an eight-minute asskicker, the song that every metal band would have liked to compose. Heavy-doom-power, you name it. A major piece in the history of the genre. Can you believe this?
And if you thought that was it, babe, the greatest closer song of all times reaches your ears and propels them to another galaxy once more - "A Light in the Black". Ritchie Blackmore, oh my sweet lord, with his magic fingers can do the impossible without doing impossible things. The main riff for the song is not quite difficult but in the same time has such a tremendous power and feeling that you can only sigh and admit that this guy is a total guitar god. And let's not even talk about Blackmore's complexity when we are in the soloing moment. Cozy is gorgeous once again, as well as the rest of the band and, oh Dio, the vocals are fresh, powerful, slashing and totally metal. Another epic masterpiece in the same album, can you believe this?
Yes, you may have noticed. There is a great question in here. Can you believe this? Can you believe in such a brilliancy in the same place? Yeah, of course, only six songs. That's why I can't give the perfect rating for this record. It leaves you craving for more. But believe me, young metalhead, these six songs are more worthy than the whole discography by, say, Metallica. Do I believe this is the finest album in the history of heavy metal? My answer would be that, at least, it's in the top five ever. Even the art of the album is so majestic and mighty, so there is nothing you can do about it. If you don't like this thing maybe you should enter in YouTube and look for Justin Bieber's highlighted videos. You are not worthy of the Rainbow Rising!
This landmark Rainbow proved to be a turning point in the careers of all involved, but most particularly of Ritchie Blackmore and Dio; it not only established Rainbow as a credible band rather than a mere vanity project of Blackmore's, but it also saw Dio join the front rank of metal frontmen from the era. It would not be too much of an exaggeration to say that most of Dio's subsequent career would be based around refining and perfecting the fantasy metal blueprint provided by this album, both in terms of his Dungeons & Dragons lyrics and the driving proto-NWOBHM sound on display.
I do not say that to denigrate Dio - quite the opposite. The fact that he was able to base so much of his future career on what was accomplished with this album just goes to show the rich creative vein tapped by it. As well as Dio's stalwart vocal performance and Blackmore's usual virtuoso guitar playing, major kudos has to go to the rhythm section of Jimmy Bain and Cozy Powell, whose driving fast-paced playing provides a rock-solid base for Blackmore and keyboardist Tony Carey's solos and Dio's quasi-operatic proclamations.
Although it's of obvious historical interest, on a purely musical level I wouldn't count the album as an unadulterated classic. Tony Carey's keyboard playing, aside from the intro to Tarot Woman, is usually upstaged by the rest of the band and doesn't seem to add much to the compositions beyond the odd bit of texture here and there, to the point where it feels as though he's present solely because artsy rock bands in the 1970s were supposed to have a keyboardist. In addition, the songwriting flags a bit after the first half of the album, with Stargazer getting repetitive to the point where I never want to hear Dio yelling "Whips and chaaaaaiiins" ever again. In addition to this, fans of more brutal and aggressive metal styles - or even harder and heavier Rainbow-influenced variants of NWOBHM, traditional metal and power metal - may find it to be rather tame. But still, when I'm in just the right mood for a Dio fix and I don't want something as heavy as his Sabbath material or as quintessentially 80s as his best solo work, Rising hits the spot.
Rising belongs to a rare category of albums because at once it contains elements that mark it as a clear product of its time, while simultaneously anticipating trends that wouldn’t appear full-fledged for another decade. For every second that points forward towards Maiden and Helloween there’s another moment that sounds like early Rush or Uriah Heep. That said, there are reasons Rising became one of the albums everyone mentions when talking about how metal evolved from a disparate collection of vaguely heavy rock bands to a single, definable scene.
First, there are no weak links in the group in terms of musical ability. Ronnie James Dio always did his best work when surrounded by his musical equals, whether the riffs were handled by Blackmore or Iommi. His albums with lesser guitarists tend to be more vocals-oriented and they don’t work as well. Thankfully that doesn’t happen here. Richie Blackmore knows how to craft exciting riffs, whether they be fast proto-power-metal (“Tarot Woman”) medium boogie-woogie (“Run with the Wolf”) or epic doom (“Stargazer”). Bassist Jimmy Bain and drummer Cozy Powell can play along with Blackmore’s flying changes, and keyboardist Tony Carey is every bit Blackmore’s match in terms of soloing. When this version of Rainbow found their groove, they were the best band in the world.
Unfortunately they didn’t always find it. Three of the album’s six songs are essentially standard 70s hard rock tunes, and only one of them, “Run with the Wolf,” works. It’s swung a-la .38 Special and features a lot of bluesy stop-start riffing. The verse and chorus, where Dio just repeats the title phrase, are nothing special in terms of melodies or harmonies. Fortunately, the pre-chorus bit in between with the chromatic descent (“There’s a hole in the sky, etc.) presents enough of a style change that the song stays exciting.
That can’t be said about the other two “mainstream” songs on here, “Starstruck” and “Do You Close Your Eyes.” Memorable riffs are decidedly absent from both tracks, and worse, the lyrics are really lame. I understand that metal was different in 1976, but trying to seduce women with clever phrases and having to hide from a crazy groupie are about as unmetal as you can get, especially for a bona fide deity like Dio. Dio does what he wants, he doesn’t have to ask! At least “Run with the Wolf” was about werewolves. You can hear the lack of inspiration in his voice on the other two songs.
On the other hand, Rising’s longer songs, “Tarot Woman,” “Stargazer,” and “A Light in the Black,” are so ahead of their time they might as well be called power metal. “Tarot Woman” gallops through shifting keys, RJD wailing away about witches and dark forests and the night sky, while “Stargazer” and “A Light in the Black” match Tolkeinesque lyrics with an appropriately epic lengths and blazing solos from Blackmore and Carey. Here, Blackmore clearly understands that in melodic metal of this sort, there must be harmonic excitement to underscore the lyrical and vocal drama above, and he crafts riffs and progressions that lead inexorably onward, yet are always surprising. I could just listen to the transitions in and out of the “Where is your star?” section in “Stargazer” and be happy forever.
Overall, what you’ll remember after listening to Rising are the monster, building riffs and quite honestly one of the greatest vocal performances of any genre at any time in history. Yes, a couple of the songs suck, but they are easily skippable and don’t take up much space on the album. So, if you don’t mind a little melody in your metal or are looking for one of the great leaps forward in the history of music, this is an album to get now.
Considering that the genre didn’t really become solidified until the early 1980s, heavy metal music of the 70s is often somewhat overlooked and considered lacking in areas of songwriting and production. For the most part, all that are well-recognized are Black Sabbath’s first six releases, as well as some Judas Priest and Motorhead albums, which were gaining popularity by the end of the decade. Meanwhile, bands like Rush and Scorpions often lacked recognition until they found greater success in less metallic styles of rock in the 80s, while American groups like Sir Lord Baltimore and Legend lamented in obscurity. But one of the greatest metal albums of that era (perhaps of all time) was Rainbow’s Rising, a record which more or less brings together everything great about the year 1976. Ritchie Blackmore’s engrossing lead playing, Ronnie James Dio’s unique and powerful voice, and Cozy Powell’s intense and involved drumming help turn this into the second best album of the 1970s. This sophomore release displays Blackmore’s seasoned songwriting talents delivering strong, focused tracks, one of which remains one of the best metal songs to date.
Opening with one of Rainbow’s strongest songs, the infectious catchy “Tarot Woman” demonstrates the sound of Deep Purple taken to its logical conclusion. Beginning with an almost “spacey” keyboard passage, the song explodes into a hammering, staggered riff which bounces along at a happy pace, supported by Dio’s energetic vocals and a mystical-sounding chorus. Make no bones about it, this song is the power metal that Deep Purple had always hinted at, years before Diamond Head or Black Sabbath cemented the genre. Also notable is the fantastic 8 minute closer “A Light in the Black,” which is surprisingly fast due to Powell’s uncompromising double bass pattern and the incredible dueling leads between Tony Corey’s keys and Blackmore’s guitar. They even play a few harmonized melodies near the end which makes you wonder why Iron Maiden never recruited a keyboardist. Overall it’s very fast, epic and intense stuff for 1976, which rivals and outstrips similar proto-speed metal such as “Highway Star,” “Paranoid” and “Tyrant.”
Tracks 2, 3 and 4 are all rather similar: short 3-4 minute rock-ish songs that make it very clear that this is 1976, not 1984. Yet the quality is still high, as “Run With the Wolf” switches between a slower, methodical riff and an exciting, carefree chorus with much aplomb and memorability. “Starstruck” is comparable, featuring a more upbeat tempo and funny lyrics about a cat-and-mouse chase between a woman and the recipient of her unwanted attention. Very catchy (“she’s nothin’ but back luck!”) and immediately accessible, it’s my top pick for these three traditionally-minded tracks. “Do You Close Your Eyes” goes a bit overboard in this department, being the shortest song here which doesn’t hint at what Rainbow is really capable of: it’s the one reminder of the mediocrity that occasionally showed up in Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow, but the riffs still deliver despite its goofiness. Even the lyrics are a bit cringe-worthy: “Do you close your eyes when you’re making love, yeah, yeah/Makin’ sweet love to ME, yeah!” Quite hilarious, really.
But however great all of the songs on Rising are, the album really comes down to one track. One single song that defies all conventions, one song during which the planets align (no matter the time of year) and the hand of a goddamn deity leads Rainbow into the most orgasmic 8 minutes and 27 seconds of music the 70s ever produced. This song is “Stargazer,” and it will be the greatest song you ever hear, whether you realize it or not. “Stargazer” is the reason why Dio is revered. “Stargazer” is the reason why Ritchie Blackmore remains worshipped by guitarists even after he abandoned rock music and refused to even play “Smoke on the Water,” of all things. “Stargazer” is the quintessential metal epic: a true tour de force of heavy music.
“Stargazer” is why we listen to heavy metal.
Beginning with an intense drum fill by Cozy Powell (easily my favorite drum intro ever), “Stargazer” soon settles into a majestic, heavier-than-Jesus main riff which sets the tone of the entire song. It’s a simple, three-note affair, but never before and never again has so much been accomplish with straightforward “dun-DUN-DUN-da, dun-DUN-DUN-da” riffing. Dio’s vocals completely steal the show, however, reaching an emotional performance that even rivals his work with Black Sabbath. During the chorus, the listener is introduced to the fact that “Stargazer” features the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra, and they (rather unbelievably) don’t sound out of place whatsoever. Despite Blackmore’s classical training, I couldn’t help but be skeptical of the inclusion of an orchestra here, but it truly works wonders: I have no qualms saying that this single song triumphs over all other attempts to merge heavy metal and symphonic music.
Not even halfway through the song, Blackmore belts out an immortal guitar solo: completely out of this world in terms of composition, emotion and tension. Perhaps it’s not as over-the-top or demented as his playing on “Child in Time,” but the reserved nature of the solo offers all of the power of that song with added breadth and a warped, almost trance-like atmosphere. By the time the lead finishes, “Stargazer” has gone through all of the differing sections it has to offer, yet it keeps getting greater and greater. The remainder of the song goes through one more verse, and 3 minutes of excellent vamp and improvisation by Dio over the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra and the echoing strains of the guitar chords. The final piece of “Stargazer” is like a whole new song unto itself: the finale must be heard firsthand to understand how the pure energy and atmosphere could make something which was already heard before in the song even better. Oh, and the lyrics are about an evil wizard that enslaves humanity and forces the construction of a tower that pierces the sky, so he can reach the stars he so fondly gazes at. Yes, this song has it all.
Rising is Rainbow’s finest hour. Here, the band is focused and cohesive in all aspects: a noticeable step up from the band’s slightly muddled debut. It comes as no surprise that every extraneous band member on Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow was replaced for this album. Songs like “Tarot Woman, “Starstruck” and “A Light in the Dark” are amongst the best offered in metal by 1976, weaving a power/speed metal tapestry before anybody really understood heavy metal would become. Every time “Stargazer” comes on, time stands still and rapture begins. Even today, Rising is powerful and musically relevant, as it will always stay.
Released less than a year after the success of their self-titled album, Rainbow's "Rising" finds Richie Blackmore further exploring the fantasy metal themes hinted at earlier. It seemed that the more that Blackmore and singer Ronnie James Dio wrote music together, the stronger their chemistry got. They are the only two members that returned from the debut. "Rising" marks the entry of drumming legend Cozy Powell into the band, and he adds considerable rhythmic strength to the songs he's allowed to open up on (like "Stargazer," for instance). Other times he plays the role of a typical rock drummer.
This album suffers, at times, from what all of the Rainbow albums suffer from: too much restraint in order to promote accessibility. The production lacks any sense of heaviness at times. "Do You Close Your Eyes" is such an awful song that it tarnishes the whole album (especially if you have it on vinyl and can't skip it). Despite its long length, "A Light In The Dark" is more of a poppier song with a long, yet surprisingly boring, instrumental section in the middle. This band has a lot of potential, but Blackmore and Powell's restraint keeps adequate songs like "Starstruck" and "Run Like the Wolf" from achieving anything greater.
On the other hand, we have "Tarot Woman," which could easily be a metal song had the guitars not been neutered in the studio. Dio shines on vocals and Blackmore has a good solo in the middle, but it's the guitar riffs and incredible drumming by Cozy Powell that make this song so great. We also have "Stargazer," which is arguably Rainbow's best song and contains what is easily Blackmore's best guitar solo recorded in the studio while with Rainbow. This is a song that influenced countless metal bands (thankfully they chose this song and not "Do You Close Your Eyes"). Both of these songs are hurt by Tony Carey's incredibly dated "futuristic" keyboard sounds and would have been far better served by the heavy organ sounds of a Jon Lord or Ken Hensley-type of player.
Overall, "Rising" is a decent album with a couple of spectacular songs. In all honesty, one could probably skip the purchase of this album and go with the Rainbow anthology instead, unless maybe if they are a completist. Dio gives some great performances, but even he cannot save some of the lackluster songwriting. This is far from a classic, but certainly has historical value and was most likely a great influence on many of your favorite bands.
'70s metal? Black Sabbath and Judas Priest. The mistake a lot of people make is ending the list there, because not only is this 1976 gem the metal god Dio's breakthrough album, it's one of the best albums in the 1970s to take Sabbath's foundation and run with it, altering enough to remain original but keeping Iommi's newfound invention of heaviness along for the jog. One complaint I do have lies in the songwriting; tracks like "Run With the Wolf" and "Stargazer" are about as metal as Iron Maiden (and definitely as metal as '70s Halford and co.), but "Do You Close Your Eyes" is nearly unforgivable, even if its simple rocking nature isn't uncharming as an 'every once in a while'. The song has similarities to Elf, Dio's former band that played softer blues rock with an upbeat, rock'n'roll vibe. Other songs flirt with being radio-friendly, but for the most part [i]Rising[/i] is a masterpiece of traditional metal, with "Stargazer" being the absolute peak of the whole affair (maybe even extending to Dio's career - it's that good; [i]Holy Diver[/i] is fun but can't hold a candle).
The album blasts off with a minute and a half of Tony Carey showcasing his keyboard abilities before transitioning into the song part of "Tarot Woman". Not my favorite track, but it does define the model that most tracks on the album follow. Ritchie Blackmore plays thick galloping riffs interspersed with well-placed lead guitar, always aided in rhythm by bass player Jimmy Bain and drummer extraordinaire Cozy Powell. Powell is a real standout on this album, punishing the kit at almost every opportunity - fills galore - and rarely descending into simple timekeeping mode (thankfully the rock influence doesn't show up everywhere). There are a few synth solos, but they don't get in the way. Guitar solos are more prevalent (a given considering Blackmore's ego?) and are usually good, sometimes great.
Dio is on top of his game here, putting on a flawless performance made immortal by unforgettable melodies - "Where is your star? Is it far? is it far? faaaaaaaar?" - perhaps trumped only by Dio's successful stint in Black Sabbath. There's no real need to split hairs, it's all good, but [i]Rising[/i] seems to be, for whatever reason, the least championed of his prime efforts. Unjustly so, as it's legendary stuff in the heavy metal/hard rock field, cherry-topped by a total epic in "Stargazer" - which, I forgot to mention, features the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra.
Anyone interested in Dio, Blackmore or just one of the first great metal bands should definitely pick this up.
Rainbow's sophmore effort is timeless. 33 years after its initial release, the album is still impressive with its song structures, killer guitar playing, operatic vocals, and powerhouse drumming. Ladies and gentleman, this is the essential heavy metal album. With the addition of Cozy Powell behind the kit, this album features three musicians that are arguably the finest at their craft. Ronnie James Dio at the mic, Ritchie Blackmore with the guitar, and Cozy Powell with the drums.
After a very good debut album, Rainbow took the driving, straight-up rock and roll style of their songs and expanded it to and early incarnation of what power metal would come to be. Longer songs and deep, impactful vocals take the listener on a journey of the senses and will leave you wanting for more. One of the negatives is that there are only six songs, but each leave their mark.
From the warped keyboard opening by Tony Carey in "Tarot Woman" to the brooding, stomping drumming to "Stargazer" the musicianship of this record is in the elite. From the up-tempo numbers to the epic numbers, the writing is stellar and flows brilliantly. All instruments are represented with not one outweighing the other as the chemistry with each musician is remarkable.
A difference from the debut is more usage of the keyboard. Tony Carey does a phenomenal job with over using the obnoxious high note and reflects well off the solo in "Light in the Black." That song also perfectly showcases the talents of every individual and is a true classic. It also has the trippy, like "whoa dude" intro to "Tarot Woman" and erupts into a vicious riff from Ritchie. Tony also delivers some interesting atmospheric effects into "Stargazer" which is an impressive epic number. The genius that it took to write this masterpiece brings me to tears because it is incredible.
With the stellar amount of musicianship on this record, Rainbow "Rising" is in the pantheons of all-time great heavy metal records. Unfortunately, they would only make one more record after this because the fickle Ritchie would revamp the Rainbow lineup and sound. The six songs that comprise this record are all different and have their own unique style that makes them memorable. So put the horns up in the air and enjoy the magnificent Rainbow "Rising."
Rainbow really knocks you off your feet with their 1976 release, "Rising." The album includes six awesome tracks of pure rock and roll typical of the 1970s. This is also its weakness though, in my opinion. It is too short of an album. By today's standards, this is an EP. This doesn't take away any of the enjoyment though, it just leaves you wishing you had more Rainbow to listen to.
The album kicks off strong with the opening to, "Tarot Woman," a song with a great keyboard intro by Tony Carey. It builds up into a great hard rocker that's up there with some of the bands best. The flow of songs continues with the often-overlooked track, "Run With the Wolf." Blackmore plays a great lead that is totally him in every way. He plays an incredible solo and the drumming of Cozy Powell and the playing of bassist Jimmy Bain keep the song moving in a nice temp.
The material gets familiar with the next track, "Starstruck." The song includes a great Blackmore riff and Dio has a perfect voice for it. Cozy Powell's thunderous drumming plays throughout the song and is incredible. Blackmore pulls out another great solo that is, well, Blackmore. The next track is a track that is often forgotten as well, "Do Your Close Your Eyes?" The song has a fantastic Blackmore riff and Tony Carey really provides fantastic keyboard work and gets a great effect with them. Powell, though slowing down a little on this track, still has that thunderous effect on his drumming. The lyrics are great as well, rather commercial, but the instruments take this feeling away.
The final two pieces of the album are epics. "Stargazer," is exactly that. You can sit there for hours and hours and the song still has you wondering what it's exactly about. Dio's vocal is completely unmatched on this song. He sings the entire piece with a passion, never letting up once. Blackmore's playing is incredible on the track and inspired a whole generation of bands that came after him. The track single-handily created the, "Neo-Classical," style of metal. Blackmore's playing starts off on an easy riff, then explodes into a tremendous solo that includes everything a fan could want. Powell's distinctive drum sound shines throughout the song and is a key element to the feel. Tony Carey plays an incredible keyboard part and plays well with Blackmore. Jimmy Bain keeps the song flowing, and the entire Munich Philharmonic Orchestra strengthens the rest of the playing.
The final song (and the second epic) is entitled, "A Light in the Black." The piece has a great Blackmore riff that plays through the song, giving it fire. Powell's drumming isn't as loud on this track, but sure does keep it going. Dio's vocals are great, but not as powerful and capturing as they are on, "Stargazer." Keyboard can be heard, but on this piece it's lowered to a rather low level. Jimmy Bain continues his awesome bass playing and continues to help the piece flow.
"Rising," is a great album by any expectations. Usually considered Rainbow's greatest album, very little of the album made it into the band's live shows, with only, "Stargazer," and, "Do You Close Your Eyes?" being shown in the bands 1976 world tour. Blackmore's genius shines throughout the entire record and Dio is unmatched. The powerful drumming of Cozy Powell, in my mind, was never captured ever again as it is found on the, "Rising," album. Jimmy Bain and Tony Carey really should have been kept on for at least one more album, but as Blackmore doesn't like to work with the same people all the time, this was changed. The only reason I don’t' give this album a 100 is because it is too short and, of course, left me wanting more.
This album is absolutely amazing. The first time I heard this was in my friends car, and we are both enormous Dio and Rainbow fans, the keyboard solo in the intro to Tarot Woman is a great intro to this album, preparing thee for a space rock jounrey to the ancient Babalonian Space Palaces. Then after this solo is over Ritchie Blackmore slowly makes his way in with a typical Blackmore rock riff. The song is truly insane. And what to say of Dio? Well, simply put, he is god. I for one would not be surprised if I died and went to heaven(being that it exists) and Dio is there sitting upon a mighty throne. ANYWAY! Back to the album, every single one of the musicians on this album is truly amazing, they all add to the greatness of this album. To talk about Run With The Wolves I must put the chorus in There’s a hole in the sky
Something evil’s passing by, what’s to come
When the siren calls you go
To run with the wolf. This is such a great chorus for so many reasons. First, I personally think that the hole in the sky part is some sort of tribute to Dio's Sabbath days. Whenever Dio says the word evil, especially in this song, it makes my pants happy. And of course when the siren calls you go! Horns to that mother fuck!
Starstruck! Gets right to the point. Poor Dio being followed by some obsessed woman. He think he can hide on the moon, but! she will find a way! This is a great song, and very well put together.
Do You Close Your Eyes? No really, do you? I personally think this ones a bit cheesy, but still great anyway, especially hearing Dio speaking of babymakin'.
Now, Stargazer. Stargazer could easily be an album all by itself. This song is absurdly epic. I think this is all I can bring myself to say about it. Its just such an amazing song. This is what I mean by Ancient Babalonian Space Palaces. Especially towards the end of the song. The solos that Ritchie Blackmore does in this song are truly a force to be reckoned with. This song just starts off fairly basic, and gets progressively more and more epic as it goes on.
A Light In The Black, This is my personal favorite song on this album. A good fast one, great riff. The parts I like are toward the end of the song where there are dueling keyboard and guitar solos. And speaking of these guitar solos. There is one melodic part toward the end that sounds very Maiden-like. I love this song. Yes yes I do.
Overall this album is just great. Nothing less. I had to listen to it three times over after I heard it for the first time.
To say that Rainbow is good at making music is akin to saying Anton Chekhov is good at writing plays or that Michael Jackson is good at dancing. These guys are the masters of their craft and the mentors and idols of hundreds of copycat bands that arose after they took over the world of Rock 'n' Roll.
Rainbow really has an all-star lineup for Rising. Ritchie Blackmore at guitar is able to put together a group of some of the most talented musicians of the time, including the legendary Dio (carried over from the first album), the undeniably talented Tony Carey, and the rising stars Jimmy Bain and Cozy Powell. There is not a single weak link in the band; everyone is an incredibly talented musician and together they make incredible music. If not for the legenday short temper of Blackmore, these guys could potentially have stayed together and become as well-known as the less-talented AC/DC or Guns N' Roses.
As for the album itself, rarely will you find a more complete collection of intense hard rock. The songs are structured according to the principles of rock and they don't really make any earth-shattering style changes. Instead, the album simply rocks your ass off from beginning to end. Every single song on here is intense and fast-paced, intended to have you headbanging from beginning to end.
The best parts of the album are the incredible solos from Blackmore, Carey, and Powell. Indeed, the keyboard solo at the beginning of the album is increidbly groundbreaking and arguably paves the way for the keyboard-dominated sound that would define the entire eighties. Blackmore is talented as always and he really lights up the stage with solos that are both technically intense as well as positively soulful. Kudos also go out to Powell, who is an incredibly talented and versatile drummer. His occasional solo is exciting and interesting and his drumming is nothing short of electrifying.
This is the sort of album that paves the way for music for decades to come. It is both historic and fun and should definitely be part of your collection.
The previous incarnation of Blackmore's Rainbow (as performed on the 1975 eponymous debut LP) consisted of the band Elf, minus guitarist (Ritchie Blackmore didnt need help). Clearly the most valuable of these Elves was the one and only Ronnie James Dio, because he's the one and only one left for the follow-up, 1976's Rising.
Having belted the instantly-classic single "Man on the Silver Mountain" on the first LP, Dio had clearly and unalterably been delivered as the Voice Of Rainbow. They stepped it up a notch for Rising -- a stronger band was assembled around Dio and the ever-pissy Mr. Blackmore: keyboardist Tony Carey (who had a minor solo hit in the '80s with "Why Me"), bassist Jimmy Bain (who remains Dio's bassist and songwriting partner to this day) and drummer Cozy Powell (known more for his glam records previous to this). This unit as a whole is solid beyond belief, largely due to the addition of Powell; his status as a legendary drummer begins right here. The most powerful thunder Blackmore had yet had to work with, and it complements his equally thunderous riffing perfectly.
As if to signify the change in direction, the first noise you hear on Rising is atmospheric synthesizer tweakage. Rising anticipates the future of heavy metal in quite a few ways, and while the synthesizer emerges as a legit metal instrument here, it doesn't serve to take the edge off the rock, as was its purpose throughout the '80s. This is no "The Final Countdown." It probably has more in common with Bitches' Brew-era Miles Davis, and is a prominent shift from the boogie-oriented ivory-ticklage prevalent on the previous LP.
Leadoff track "Tarot Woman" is not necessarily first-song material, but it's suitably chugging as you prepare yourself for side one's more substantial gifts: "Starstruck," lyrically an enraged dismissal of an overzealous groupie, is boogie with ten times more nutsack than the entirety of the "Blackmore's Rainbow" LP, thanks as always to monsieur Powell's punch. "Do You Close Your Eyes" is another prime example of this particular Rainbow's clairvoyance, as the dirty chords and four-on-the-floor approach anticipate sunset strip bar-chord raunch, thankfully devoid of similar posturing and/or visual aesthetics. Faster Pussycat would have neutered each other to sound this powerful.
The band stretches out for side two. You can look at that as a good or bad thing, depending on which half of the '70s you lean toward. Keeping some of the dinosaurish elements that would soon become boring enough to necessitate the rise of punk, yet sonically breathing fire. There are but two songs on side two, each of them 8+ minutes long, hence the dinosaur comparisons. Luckily, the dinosaur is more T-Rex than brontosaurus -- both songs are powerful enough to justify such gratuitousness.
Yes, both songs are sort of endless but they do indeed make the most of the jam time. "Stargazer" is caught somewhere in between "Kashmir" and "The Last in Line." Eastern in musical and lyrical theme, plodding in a sense but blasting, and masterfully helmed by Dio, his voice as majestic as it ever was. This man has never once emitted a squeal. Pure authority... But I have to say "A Light in the Black" is this record's shining jewel. A barrelling locomotive of a backing track, rivalling anything Deep Purple ever attempted. Blackmore, Powell, Carey and Dio all give their finest performances on this one (bassist Bain is the odd man out, production-wise); Carey in particluar makes an amazing case for his inclusion in such a band. It sounds like Keith Emerson getting the beating of his life. Blackmore is, of course, Blackmore, and appropriately both his rhythm pickage and solo squalling are full of fireworks and renaissance references. Powell is nothing short of awe-inspiring. Clearly influenced by Keith Moon but absolutely focused, his rhythm is powerful and his power is rhythmic. He would stick around for 1977's Long Live Rock 'n Roll -- together, the two LPs could constitute a Cozy Powell greatest hits record. Credit must be given to producer Martin Birch for getting such an incredible, full drum sound. And Dio. Dio. DIO! Here's the record where his lyrics start taking on more underworld-ish aspects, but he could sing the Denny's menu and it'd still get me all woozy. You know it's funny -- I have early Dio performances with him singing rockabilly/early rock 'n roll in 1962 and it's still a metal voice. The man found his calling when he joined Rainbow.
Although I give Long Live Rock 'n Roll a slight edge in the Rainbow sweepstakes (no 8-minute songs!), Rising is possessed of incredible power and thoroughly jaw-dropping playing. I am not one who favors a lot of twiddling and wanking in the general sense. I just dig superhumans, and Rising is a superhuman record. Go git it.