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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.