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There were some personal differences that caused guitarist Ritchie Blackmore to leave Deep Purple and form Rainbow: a band that for obvious reasons had a lot of similarities to Deep Purple. Blackmore's guitar-work was as flamboyant, catchy and memorable as always and are ultimately what Rainbow is all about. But he wasn't the sole reason that Rainbow managed to conjure up some of hard rock's/heavy metal's finest (and often over-looked) albums. Blackmore joined forces with the now legendary metal singer Ronnie James Dio and his bandmates from Elf, and together they created an awe-inspiring debut album simply called 'Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow' in 1975; a year where metal had really taken off and was on the rise.
If you've been listening to Deep Purple albums featuring Ritchie Blackmore, you know that he's a very good guitarist and can do some serious virtuoso stuff on the axe combining raw skill, technicality and possibly some magic to create some very memorable riffs and amazing leads/solos. Even though he's always come across as a miserable, arrogant, egoistical sod, you could say that he's a slightly merrier version of Black Sabbath's Tony Iommi in terms of guitar-playing and style. Take a look at album opener "Man on the Silver Mountain". The intro-riff and main-riff are insanely memorable a la Deep Purple's world-famous "Smoke on the Water". "Man on the Silver Mountain" has also got some amazing guitar-leads working around the chorus and additionally there's a fairly good solo thrown in, too. The Quatermass cover "Black Sheep of the Family" has also got some nice guitar-wrangling, and on the mellower tracks: the spacey "Catch the Rainbow" and the beautiful "The Temple of the King" are also worth a mention.
I mentioned magic earlier regarding Blackmore's guitar. That's true and all, but the real magic are the pipes of Ronnie James Dio and his very fitting fantasy-based lyrics that seem to further compliment the whole album and making it a complete package of magical metal music. Dio's vocal delivery on every song is astounding, but they truly shine (out-shine the guitar) on tracks like "Self-Portrait" and "Sixteenth Century Greensleeves"; both whom I consider to be some of the band's best songs.
'Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow' isn't a perfect album, though. "Snake Charmer" and "If You Don't Like Rock 'n' Roll" are of much lower quality than the rest of the tracks, when you consider that the bar was already set with songs like "Man on the Silver Mountain" and "Catch the Rainbow", but since the album closes with "Sixteenth Century Greensleeves" and finally an instrumental cover of The Yardbirds' "Still I'm Sad", the album isn't greatly affected by these below-par tracks.
This album is over-looked if you think about the time it was released. Blackmore's original band Deep Purple was in full-swing, Black Sabbath were in their best shape, too, Led Zeppelin were doing their thing and bands such as Judas Priest and Motörhead were emerging in the metal scene. Outside it, Pink Floyd still ruled. So, it's not that strange that Rainbow were suffocating under this great time of music, but this album, as well as the two later albums with Ronnie James Dio as the band's singer, were early influences on the more medieval, operatic and mysterious (magical) metal albums (including Dio-fronted Black Sabbath and Dio's Holy Diver etc.) that would be conceived in the 80s.
Rainbow is a tale of two famous musicians, each with polarizing musical tastes. On the one hand, we have former Deep Purple guitarist Ritchie Blackmore, who specialized in rowdy, upbeat rock n' roll. On the other, we have singer Ronnie James Dio, who was relatively unknown at the time of Rainbow's formation, and favored music that featured mystical elements of fantasy. The two obviously didn't get along very well, but they managed to crank out several albums before parting ways. "Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow" was the first of these albums.
As you can tell in the album's title, Ritchie Blackmore wanted a ton of attention, attention he felt that he didn't get enough of during his stint in Deep Purple. As he wanted to craft some rock n' roll songs, those songs are definitely to be found on this album, one of the best examples being the hokey, if not laughably silly, "If You Don't Like Rock 'n' Roll". It's only two minutes long, but that's all that Blackmore needed in order to create a fast and goofy rock n' roll song, complete with a piano and even the sound of a cheering crowd at the end! While "If You Don't Like Rock 'n' Roll" might sound asinine, even with Dio on vocals, there are other songs that I might say are more enjoyable. "Snake Charmer" is one of them. It has a bit of a bluesy, hard rock influence without being so cheesy. Then there's "Black Sheep of the Family", a cover of a Quartermass song. While it is a little goofy, I'm going to let that pass, since it is a cover, but it's part of the evidence of Blackmore wanting to pursue a more bluesy, hard rock sound for his solo band. I guess part of the reason why Blackmore hired Dio to be a part of his band was the fact that Dio has a rough, gravelly voice, but at the same time, he also had a soft and melodic tone whenever he needed it, like during ballads like "Catch the Rainbow".
Despite Blackmore's name being featured in the album's title, I would say that Ronnie James Dio had more creative power in the music, as there are more songs with fantasy-related topics as the subject matter, or at least song lyrics with a ton of metaphors (Blackmore favored lyrics that were more simple and straight to the point). The all-time classic "Man on the Silver Mountain", an excellent song commonly associated with Dio's work, is only one example. There's also "The Temple of the King", which is pretty self-explanatory. That particular song, however, has a more mystical vibe to it, suggesting a classical influence. It is also quieter than "If You Don't Like Rock 'n' Roll", for there are more acoustic guitars and mellotrons involved. As he is singing, Dio's voice is softer as well. Dio was a very intelligent man who knew every nook and cranny of classical music, so he wanted to have that in a lot of the songs he wrote. This obviously didn't sit well with Blackmore. "Sixteenth Century Greensleves" has a bluesy guitar riff, but the lyrics are obviously Dio's, since they feature imagery found in fantasy settings, like drawbridges and towers.
Blackmore and Dio have done great things together, including the making of this album, but that was never to last. The two were often embroiled in arguments over what should and shouldn't be in the music. This has led to Dio leaving the band after the release of "Long Live Rock 'n' Roll", thus joining Black Sabbath and putting his creative ideas forward a little more. Blackmore, however, made Rainbow a goofy AOR band, releasing the abysmal "Down to Earth" with singer Graham Bonnett. It's a shame that they parted ways, for they did an excellent job in creating this album.
So Ritchie was dissatisfied with the direction Deep Purple took on Stormbringer, getting really funky, they also didn’t want to play the “Black Sheep Of The Family” cover so he had enough and left the band in 1975, his last performance with the band was captured on the Live in Paris 1975: La Dernière Seance CD. That same year he started his own project, accompanied by competent musicians from Elf and the rest is history. By the time Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow was recorded, classic rock was still brilliant and inspired, though shortly afterwards decline would begin with big legendary groups getting exhausted, pompous and clumsy while the challenging punk movement determined the beginning of a new era. However, this album features the splendor of the 70’s sound intact, obeying the requirements of those times, offering nothing specially innovative in contrast with following Rainbow releases but already demonstrating the promising potential and possibilities of Blackmore’s project.
There are actually certainly unforgettable inventive tunes here, “Sixteenth Century Greensleeves” and its immense baroque riffing accompanied by Dio’s powerful voice for instance avoids the usual bluesy/progressive clichés of the decade. Although their music remains weighty and traditionally constructed without the future speed and intensity of the following Rising stuff. “Man On The Silver Mountain” also includes splendid vivid riffing and classical music influence with Blackmore’s talent at its best on that exquisite skilled pickin’ part, rhythm stays heavy making the music reach great presence and strength while structures are designed with simplicity. So the band didn’t introduce notable progression yet, the configuration of titles as “If You Don’t Like Rock ‘N’ Roll” or “Snake Charmer” is direct, escaping from significant variations and diversity, yet they’re instrumentally executed with incredible taste and ability. Curiously, you can notice certain funky touch, which makes the music so cheerful (Isn’t that what Blackmore disliked so much of Stormbringer?) because those cuts ain’t intended to be furious or violent. Melody is an indispensable characteristic to build their sound indeed, becoming particularly seductive on the emotional ballad “Catch The Rainbow” or the acoustic gem “The Temple Of The King”, both immaculately arranged and meticulously conceived with Ronnie’s voice absolutely heavenly and sentimental. In contrast with those touching sweet compositions, the Quatermass cover and “Self Portrait” bring back the casual heavy metal essence and persistent lyrics to reveal more technically humble accessible music without great pretention but once again performed with excellence and talent, while the The Yardbirds’ cover “Still I’m Sad” closes the album with an elaborated epic instrumental display.
Results are brilliant, the grace and motivation of the group is remarkable, making each cut unique and magic. Blackmore always surrounded himself with the best and this was no exception. Dio’s enchanting voice brings wider possibilities to reach another level but also Mickey Lee Soule’s keyboards are professionally played along with Gruber & Driscoll’s precise rhythm section (Gary’s percussive drumming is particularly detailed). But you need more than great musicians to make a good album and Ritchie could do no wrong on the essential song-writing process. He was finally doing what he wanted and he knew so well how he wanted it, his clear determination and fresh ideas design a defined musical pattern, none of the tracks is unfocused or chaotic, the arrangements are truly elaborated and certainly this material is instrumentally accurate and perfectionist. The methodology of the songs is admirable disciplined but what really makes this material different from mid-70’s Deep Purple? Well, melody is more present, riffs are vital but this time everything ain’t hanging on them exclusively, guitars take bigger control over keyboards and of course, lyrical themes show the fascination of Ritchie & Ronnie for fantasy, history and medieval stuff, even though you can still find some usual love/life/relationships lyrics here. The group would develop further their technique and pretention tremendously later, thought this record reveals originality and creativity already. The music obeys as I mentioned the 70’s classic rock standards, casual and weighty without being excessively bluesy and topical, on other hand. I must insist on the unique classical & baroque nature Ritchie provides his music of, the most distinctive characteristic that makes a stunning combination with Dio’s incredibly passionate vocals and presence, so he finally found his alter ego.
This superb debut proved again the talent and inventiveness of the Man In Black, without the restrictions and limitations he found on Deep Purple now he could do what he really wanted and make use of his entire potential as musician and song-writer. However, the “Ritchie Blackmore’s” tag seems unnecessary; everybody thinks of Rainbow as a band, not as an egocentric solo project. Musicians like Ronnie, Driscoll & Lee Soule made it clear with their abilities and vital contribution. So this album includes the magic of 70’s classic metal at its best, though times soon changed, the band would satisfy the requirements of the evolving metal scene, going into an even superior level later, prevailing among the scandalous decadence of hard rock dinosaurs, all these songs contributed to achieve that pioneer sound.
This is the debut by Rainbow. A name that would be ridiculous for a band today, but was quite respected in their heyday. This features two all time greats working together. You have Ritchie Blackmore, one of the greatest guitarists of all time, and Ronnie James Dio, one of the greatest vocalists, crafting some excellent songs. They also craft some fillers.
First of all, while the music and quality aren't consistent, the atmosphere is. This definitely achieved the sword and sorcery theme they were going for. The epic feel found throughout this album would provide a source of inspiration for many power metal bands of every nationality. From Savatage to Blind Guardian, their influence was visible. Going along with the theme is the excellent cover art. The whole scene of a winding pathway leading to the castle set in front of a rainbow and the crescent moon, all surrounded by foggy mountains, is exquisite.
Ritchie Blackmore is as good as his fans claim. For a time in the 70's, this man was probably the most technically gifted guitarist on the face of the earth. His solos could either go in a well-played bluesy area, slightly reminiscent of Hendrix, or he could go into a neo-classical world that only a couple of Germans were familiar with. To go along with this, he could usually craft quality riffs on a consistent basis. I find this odd considering how much he disliked rhythm playing, but it's a credit to his talent nonetheless. We have a couple of great ones on display, the groovy one on Silver Mountain, and the heavier one on Greensleeves. He also has a rather interesting one on Snake Charmer. It came from a rare, at the time, classical scale, and now rock guitarists call it the Snake Charmer scale. This is one of the most important aspects of Rainbow. Ritchie really emphasized his classical tendencies on these first three, and it can be excellent.
Ronnie James Dio has his first performance in the medium he was to become a legend in. Elf was a pretty lousy affair, and every hard-rock or metal fan should be glad that he went in this direction. In his prime, Dio had close to four octaves and more power than some opera singers. I'm not sure if I like Dio more than Gillan, but he was definitely worthy to be Ritchie's next vocalist. His best performances are on the first two sings I mentioned previously, and the ballads. I don't particularly enjoy the ballads, but he sings splendidly on them. I believe Dio also wrote the lyrics on these songs, and they're quite enjoyable. I would say that they're cut from the same cloth as what he would do during his solo career, as well his next couple of Rainbow albums. There is a slight difference in that this stuff is a little more complex and lush, but still pretty similar.
None of the rest of the band does a noteworthy job. The keyboards are there because Ritchie is used to working with one, I presume. The difference is that this man is no Jon Lord. He doesn't even add atmosphere really. The bass is also not particularly audible, nor is he really doing anything worth paying attention to. The drummer is easier to hear, but no more enjoyable. They would get a fine drummer on the next album, but this has to suffer through a very mediocre rhythm section.
My score is a reflection of the fact that as much as two of these are classics, the rest are not special. Snake Charmer is influential and the ballads are well-sung, but they're essentially filler. I tend to feel this way about most albums Dio has been on, but I do enjoy his vocals. This album would be much worse with just an ordinary vocalist working on this. This band would improve on the next two albums, but this is still alright. I would recommend this to fans of early, power metal, and hard-rock.
There was a band led by a talented sorcerer, a guy who could almost give life to his guitar. This guy, who pioneered the genre we all love, met in strange circumstances a crafted swordsman with a sharped and edgy voice. Together with a couple of musicians (notably, Cozy Powell amongst them), Ritchie Blackmore and Ronnie James Dio created a trio of majestic albums which, until today, amazes us with their power and unique sound. Everything was a spillover of magic and craftsmanship. The finest metal band of their era.
Even if Blackmore himself claimed that Rainbow was like a second-handed band, we fans know that this affirmation probably rests on the fact that it never reached the popular status achieved by Deep Purple and this, most likely, hurted Blackmore's ego. Notwithstanding, the influence and importance of the band is as much as the importance of DP in heavy metal.
Blackmore and Elf gathered and Dio gained automatic sympathy from Ritche. Medieval stories and metal approach, that's what our favourite arrogant guy wanted and Ronnie James was the exact guy for doing it. Without excesive efforts, "Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow" was born and still today sounds as a solid startpoint for the evolution of NWOBHM.
Similar to Smoke on the Water, "Man on the Silver Mountain" has a catchy riff and a solid lyrical line. The atmosphere of the song is well defined by the contribution of the organ sounds and, well, the only problem is the weak drumming and bassing. But, anyway, it's a great opener and reflects the spirit of the whole record. "Self Portrait" follows a classic formula crafted by Ritchie Blackmore: the heavy bluesy song. Here, besides of the powerful riff by RB, the only worthy thing is Dio's singing. Yeah, this song is far from other victorious heavy bluesy pieces like Lazy or Mistreated. Lacks of feeling, specially because of the other members of the band, weaklings in a far inferior position comparing with the guitar player and the vocalist in what's about musical talent. And the whole album will be filled of this thing. There are a couple of nice non-metal covers in this album: "Black Sheep of the Family" and "Still I'm Sad", they are completely enjoyable and forgettable, I'll say no mre about them.
The high pitches of the album are the two ballads in here. "Catch the Rainbow" and "The Temple of the King". The feeling here, forwarded by Dio's singing with the always witchy guitar work by Blackmore are beyond any dimension. There wasn't anything impossible for Ronnie James and Blackmore knew it. That's why he did this songs precisely the way they are now and they are the finest examples of Dio's magic voice, now that he is gone. Of course, he did brilliant work in other songs, but here, he was like a greek god of music.
The weaker songs of the album are "Snake Charmer" and "If You Don't Like Rock n Roll". They are total fillers, created for being fillers and they do their job, but justly, without inspiration or light. Though, the riff in Snake Charmer is a very intricate one.
Finally, "Sixteenth Century Greensleves", one of the major masterpieces by Rainbow. This song does a lot and still can do it. The lyrics are a masterful creation of a genious and sounds so traditionaly heavy metal that you can't do other thing but smiling and banging your head listening the song. Perfect, Blackmore and DIo.
This nice fairy tale kept on going for a long and irregular time. It's fair to say that one of the finest albums by Rainbow is this one, by far. Usually, people thinks that Dio's Rainbow is the finest one. I tend to take that opinion as a right one, even if there are good things in the other line-ups. This story kept on going for two more albums and remains as one of the finest ones in the history of the genre. If you thought this album was a good one, well, get ready for the couple next to come. Buy this record, it won't dissapoint you.
As the one year anniversary of Ronnie James Dio’s death approaches, I have dug up and re-touched these reviews of his golden age, which I wrote shortly following his passing. This is my manner of tribute to the man, my small way of giving back to a musician who gave us all so much.
When you get down to it, Rainbow offered some of the greatest albums of the 1970s, thanks to the talents of former Deep Purple guitarist Ritchie Blackmore and future rock n’ roll giant Ronnie James Dio. Merging Blackmore’s experience in blues and his classical training with Deep Purple’s prototypical bombastic heavy metal thunder, Dio’s majestic vocals completed the band’s recognizable sound. Although the band would reach great heights from 1975 to 78, their debut is not quite a mind-blowing, life-changing release, however great some individual songs are. Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow is like warm cookie dough: however tasty and delectable it may be at first, it becomes apparent mid-digestion that it is mushy, undercooked and not as satisfying as it would have been had you fully baked it. Like cookie dough, this album is a great snack I love from time to time, but when I crave Rainbow I’m not likely to choose this debut over the warm, delightful cookies that are Rising, Long Live Rock n’ Roll and their plethora of live releases from the 70s.
I’ll start off with the bad: those annoying bits of undercooked dough that annoy me so. “Black Sheep of the Family” is the reason Rainbow was formed, as Deep Purple refused to record this Quartermass cover, leading Blackmore to recruit Dio for this project. It’s a silly little rock n roll number with fun verses but nothing else substantial. There isn’t much inherently wrong with it, particularly in terms of “normal” Deep Purple songs, but I never look forward to this track. I’m also not a huge fan of “Snake Charmer” which has an weird riff under the verses that isn’t really a riff at all, just some bouncy musical noises that doesn’t support what the song is capable of, like the slinking, twisting guitar solo. Yes, this is Ritchie Blackmore we’re talking about, with talent as noticeable as his ego. Every tune here, even the mediocre ones, is guaranteed to have a fantastic lead or solo. But even that can’t save “If You Don’t Like Rock n’ Roll,” a genuinely annoying number with silly boogie-piano lines courtesy of the somewhat irrelevant keyboardist Mickey Lee Soule. Dio, I most certainly DO like rock n’ roll, but I do not like this filler of a song. Go join Black Sabbath or something.
But may I remind you, this is cookie dough we are talking about, and it is delicious no matter how much of a cookie it may not be. There is some fantastic hard-rocking material to be found here, not too far removed from intense Purple tracks like “Lazy” and “Fireball.” “Self Portrait” is a solid song caught between mediocrity and greatness, but Rainbow REALLY hits the nail on the head with “Man on the Silver Mountain” and “Sixteenth Century Greensleeves.” The former opens the album with an amazing but simple riff and stomps along with an unbeatable, organ-heavy groove. Possibly the single catchiest Rainbow song, this track even beats out the perfect “Stargazer” as my most listened song by the band. The chorus is excellent, and here Dio really comes into his own: he has a smaller range and lower register than Ian Gillan and Rob Halford, but is just as (if not more) expressive and powerful as those two. His commanding and intense vocals are hard at work on this album, marking 1975 as the year that Ronnie James Dio really started turning heads and began his legend as one of the greatest vocalists in heavy metal. He is just as good on “Sixteenth Century Greensleeves,” which is a bombastic, proto-power metal romp with another brilliant chorus and, as expected, an immensely enjoyable guitar solo courtesy of Blackmore. Live performances of this track are even greater, opening with Blackmore’s calming take on the original “Greensleeves” as well as an extra heavy crunch due to the live atmosphere. The price of Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow is worth these two songs alone.
However, no Rainbow album would be complete without Blackmore reveling in the past. The mournful and bluesy “Catch the Rainbow” is the perfect counterpoint to the classically-influenced “Temple of the King.” “Catch the Rainbow” is a definite fan-favorite, using its slow and calm tempo to build suspense with Dio’s lovely croons and Blackmore’s inspirational chords and leads. “Temple of the King” is just as great; a somewhat forgotten song featuring classical acoustic guitar and one of the most satisfying song structures on the album. Showing off Rainbow’s emotional side, these two great songs round up the general sound of the band at this early point in their career. Good, no?
Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow is a great album; this much cannot be denied. It’s simply the fact that Blackmore would eke out two more masterpieces with Rainbow and Dio would go on to have a magnificent career performing heavy metal that overshadows this release, even though it is superior to Deep Purple’s post-Machine Head fare. This album isn’t perfect as a whole, but it is still very enjoyable. Rockers like “Man on the Silver Mountain,” “Sixteenth Century Greensleeves” and the instrumental Yardbirds track “Still I’m Sad” bang out like the best of metal offered in the 70s. The band displays a multi-faceted variety throughout their debut, and the potential is obviously there; it would take only another year for Blackmore and Dio to capitalize on it.
R.I.P. Ronnie James Dio (1942-2010)
I consider myself pretty knowledgeable in 70’s heavy metal, but one band I unfortunately never really got into (until recently mind you) was Deep Purple. When people would discuss Ian Gillan’s piercing screams or Jon Lord’s crazy keyboard ramblings, all I could thing about was how overrated “Smoke on the Water” was. However, I did understand the genius of guitarist Ritchie Blackmore from his post-Purple band Rainbow. Even from their very beginning, with the eponymous “Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow,” it was pretty hard to mask the immense talent of the formidable group which was not only responsible for keeping Blackmore alive and well in the musical world, but for formally introducing legendary frontman Ronnie James Dio (did anyone really listen to Elf?).
Realistically, things on Rainbow’s debut aren’t completely foreign to the Purple sound. Some of the crunchy rockers on here, such as the exotic sounding “Snake Charmer” and the organ-heavy classic “Man on the Silver Mountain,” aren’t far removed from Purple’s heyday. The key differences here are the lack of Jon Lord (meaning keyboards focused on atmosphere than technicality) and the addition of Dio. A completely different animal from Gillan, Ronnie’s voice has a strong, lower range that can be as expressive as it can be badass, perfectly suiting the metal-tinged rock ‘n’ roll that Rainbow offers up on here. And though they aren’t Roger Glover and Ian Paice, Jimmy Bain and Cozy Powell lay down a mean groove on this record. So good in fact, Dio would recruit Bain for his solo project a few years down the road. [EDIT: Jimmy Bain and Cozy Powell joined Rainbow after this album's release. The bass and drums here were provided by Craig Gruber and Gary Driscoll, respectively, both former Elf members. My apologies for the mix-up.]
Rocking numbers are the norm here, with plenty of opportunities for Ritchie Blackmore to show the listener that his guitar chops are as big as his ego (instrumental “Still I’m Sad” is pretty potent). But the truly special material is that which leans toward the mystical. For instance, “The Temple of the King” has a very moving, epic sound to it complemented by Blackmore’s classical acoustic lines. Or “Catch the Rainbow,” the bluesy Scorpions-like-ending-ballad that caps off the album in style. Sometimes it’s whole songs like these, but many times it’s just the little touches here and there that truly make the album (the little lead lick during the pre-chorus of “Man on the Silver Mountain,” the serpentine guitar solo of “Snake Charmer,” the tambourine hits on “Self Portrait,” etc. etc. etc. etc. etc.).
It’s a great debut album with a little something for everybody (particularly guitarists/bassists). Yet another mandatory 70’s rock/metal album from Ritchie Blackmore, a man partly responsible for quite a few classic 70’s rock/metal albums.
Guitar virtuoso Ritchie Blackmore formed Rainbow after growing more and more frustrated with Deep Purple because of the fusion of funk and blues elements brought by new bassist Glenn Hughes and new vocalist David Coverdale. Ritchie left and formed his own band featuring a the little known Ronnie James Dio on vocals. Combining these two equals a formula to success.
When the opening riff to "Man on the Silver Mountain" starts, you know its an instant classic. The addicting riff has the same effect like "Smoke on the Water" and the powerful chorous belted out by Dio makes this one of the best songs of all time. Another one of the classics on here is "Sixteenth Century Greensleeves" with the pounding, marching guitar riff and the melodic and soothing vocal line of Dio talking about a damsal in distress locked up in a castle back in the 1500's.
Fast and short rockers like "If You Don't Like Rock 'n' Roll" and "Black Sheep of the Family" are nice and speed the pace of the album. They are not spectacular, but they are nice little numbers. "Self-Portrait" is a nice mid-paced rocker with a great vocal number and the chorous is just magnificent. The "down, down, down" part is phenomenal and strikes a chord in me. I love it.
A couple of the more obscure tracks on here are "Catch the Rainbow" and "Temple of the King." The former has been known to be a great live number with the distinctive subtle guitar tone of Ritchie with the crisp vocals of Dio. Its a slow number and has more of an effect on the live then in the studio. "Temple of the King" has an acoustic guitar flow that comes straight from the Eastern European Renaissance style that Blackmore is doing nowadays. Its a cool track and there is certainly no other Rainbow song like it. Dio gives a masterful performance on both these tracks as Joe Lynn Turner could not touch "Catch the Rainbow." Turner is a good singer, but when hearing him sing this song watching a Rainbow concert, he is simply not better than Dio on it.
This album is definitly a must have for fans of Dio, Blackmore, and hard rock/metal. The tandem of both these musicians is awesome and created a classic. From the riffs and solos of Ritchie, to the powerful and melodic voice of Dio, this is a true winner. So buy it. Like it. Love it.
So here I am, reviewing an album, which was released when my father was slightly younger than what I am now! The band in picture here is Rainbow, a band that defines the word legendary because it did its own part to shape and mould the heavy metal genre. Rainbow was just another fish in the sea called 70’s hard rock but what made them stand out was the fact that heavy metal’s legendary guitarist Ritchie Blackmore of Deep Purple formed it.
Rainbow was formed when Ritchie Blackmore did not like the direction in which his band, Deep Purple was going because of the soul and funk elements bought to it by vocalist David Coverdale. When Blackmore saw Dio for the first time he was impressed by him and asked him to join his band and thus Rainbow was formed.
“Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow” was the debut album by this band and is a classic blend of 70’s hard rock and heavy metal. The album opener “Man On The Silver Mountain” was the first hit single of the band and its success was the reason this album could be labeled as a mini hit. The first thing that strikes your mind when you listen to this album is the amazing range and versatility on the album. While albums of 70’s hard rock bands tend to sound similar through out the entire record, this album has everything from heavy metal to covers to ballads.
While the band became popular because of Ritchie Blackmore’s presence in the band, I must tell you that he in fact isn’t the hero here. It is in fact Ronnie James Dio, who was unheard of till then by the masses. It is not often that you see iconic legends like Ritchie Blackmore being over shadowed, but with Dio’s performance on this album it cannot be said in any other way. Dio who is unarguably the greatest heavy metal vocalist in heavy metal now has a range that has to be heard. Dio’s vocals soar to whichever destination he intends them. Rarely do you find a vocalist whose vocals suit heavy metal, hard rock, acoustic based ballads, progressive rock and blues and that too in the same album! But this is exactly what Dio does, his vocal chords not once succumbing to the strain.
A track that deserves a special mention is the acoustic guitar based ballad “Temple Of The King” which is my favorite track on the album. It’s ironic actually that a guy who sets the standards for heavy metal vocalists far and wide actually sounds best on an acoustic ballad! This track is 4 and half minutes of pure bliss. I just cannot find words to describe Dio’s performance here; it’s better just to stay mum, as there actually are no words to describe his performance!
Of the 9 tracks on this LP, 2 are covers. The first of them is a cover of the track “Black Sheep Of The Family”, which was progressive rock band “Quatermass’” greatest hit. The second cover is an instrumental “Still I’m Sad” by blues rock band, “The Yardbirds.” Both of these covers have been done wonderfully well with Ronnie James once again showing his amazing range and his voice suiting both the genres (progressive rock and blues) amazingly well.
I would have given this album a complete 100, but I’m deducting 2 points because in my opinion the album just has an extra cover, one should have been enough. Apart from that this album is an elegant blend of heavy metal’s most iconic figures i.e. Blackmore and Dio. Every self respecting heavy metal fan should try out this album as soon as possible because he knows not what he is missing.
So this is where all started; Ronnie Dio was invited by Blackmore to join his solo project (and to keep the 'Dio' nickname as part of his name); and this is what we've got. An album influentied by Blackmore's past in Deep Purple and a bit of ol' Rock & Roll thrown here and there to make the album more catchy.
Man on the Silver Mountain is now a classic song, if you are or if you are not a Rainbow fan; you will surely know the riff to it. It is probably, along with Self Portrait, the heaviest song of the album. They are both mid to up-tempo and manage to go catchily easy from one to another one as the starting of the album; and Man On The Silver Mountain is really a way to start the album!
Then Black Sheep of the Family is a rock and roll influenced mid-up (the songs never go into wild up tempo, but the way it flows nicely from down to mid to up and can actually play with it, really works for the album and to keep the listener entertained) tempo, with silly lyrics and very catchy choruses.
Contrasting nicely with this up beat, joyfull song, comes the first ballad Catch The Rainbow, it is a rock and roll ballad and frankly I like it a lot, you can hear it when you want to chill out or just to listen to some beautiful music. But don't let yourself down, when minute 6.40 of this song goes away we have two Rainbow classics! The catchy mid tempo Snake Charmer, in which Blackmore's melody and one of Dio's singing masterpieces, really sets you a spell to go along with the magic of this song.
If you like/know Rainbow, you will probably know the next one, if you don't then shame on you! This is the low tempo Temple Of The King; another classic! In which the mood is well settled to continue with the magic of the previous classic. Again Dio sings like ment to the Gods and the melody is just beautiful, along with the solo.. a very remindable and comendable song, if you like Rock and Roll and it is perfect to chill out a bit...
After that we almost reach the end with the short Bluesy up tempo If You Don't Like Rock And Roll, which really sets my mood into "Happy", I love this song, as silly as it might be, the riffage and the arpeggios are memorable! You have to have a real cold heart if your mood isn't changed by this. One of the weirdest songs I've ever heard, with the piano solo and the clapping; but one of my favourites!
Then the album practically closes with the last lyrics-included song in the album, which is Sixteenth Century Greensleeves, which as you might think, it doesn't feature the melody of the classic piano song. This is, if you ask me, a good way to end the album, mid tempo but still catchy with good guitar works, and, as always, Dio's voice is flowing perfectly with the mood and the sounds. Then the song fades into the instrumental Still I'm Sad, which is an ejoyable performance from Blackmore and drummer (as well as bass player) which I can't, sadly, recall his name.. but this is, I repeat, a very worked out and enjoyable solo performance which shows us a bit of wankery from Blackmore but I actually can really see the capability and talent of each musician here.
Highlights of the album: Man On The Silver Mountain, Black Sheep Of The Family, Snake Charmer, Temple Of The King, If You Don't Like Rock And Roll.
You know, I feel remarkably unhardcore liking this one because in my brain I know that the public opinion of Ritchie Blackmore's R-A-I-N-B-O-W as the band's finest hour is just plain wrong, but my gut tells me that it's just stupid to dislike such accomplished, fun, dopey hard rock on that basis alone. Therefore, I'm already more open-minded than droves of underground metalheads, so I guess I should be proud of myself.
Anyway, the album in question doesn't have much wrong with it at all. It lacks the ambition of future Rainbow monsterliths (the next two anyway), focusing on Deep Purple-alikes and obscure rockabilly covers, sort of a 'Deep Elf' really. Metallically speaking, there ain't much beyond barnstorming opener "Man on the Silver Mountain" and "Sixteenth Century Greensleeves", both pre-power metal with a vengeance, a continuation of Purple-y castle tones on "Pictures of Home" and the majority of Ritchie's classically-based soloing.
Beyond that, this bouncy little album boasts a surprising amount of variety. In "Temple of the King" you get what amounts to a Blackmore's Night track twenty years early, all renaissance faire and soothing melodies, Ronnie exercising a lot more of his clean vocals here and on the rest of this album than any future releases. Way I figure it, that regal roar probably loosened bowels back in the early 70's and thus was used sparingly.
"If You Don't Like Rock'n'Roll" with it's boogie piano and "Black Sheep of the Family" (the straw that broke the Deep Purple camels back!) are just hooktastic, the former sounding like Elton John crossed with a happy Who, Ronnie writing some hilariously out of it lyrics. "She was dressed the way the stories tell/I tried to grab her and I saw she'd read the story well". That sounds, to me, like a D&D fanboy's first (and only) date being recounted to his equally hopeless buddies. "Black Sheep of the Family" is incredibly catchy, bravely stupid melody inspiring the most embittered metal head to smile brightly and sort of bob his or her head left and right.
Beyond these we get some really grim hard rock in "Snake Charmer" and "Self-Portrait" that sounds like (surprise!) a particularly irritated Purple jamming on a track like "Into the Fire". It's odd that this album is virtually devoid of true steel, the majority of the metallic tracks being very minor updates of older concepts with perhaps just a slightly bloodshot eye to the future of grandiose spires like Rising and Long Live Rock'n'Roll.
Stand-Outs: "The Man on the Silver Mountain", "Sixteenth Century Greensleeves", "Still I'm Sad" (a Yardbirds cover, from back when Jimmy Page didn't suck)
This is by far the best album Rainbow ever recorded in my humble opinion. I also believe that this is Ronnie James Dio finest performance on any album that he has recorded vocals for. This is pure straight our 70's rock n roll that you can just chill out to and scream at the top of your lungs. Fun album indeed is what this is. Some of the most memorable songs you will ever hear appear on this album (Man on the Silver Mountain, Self Portrait, Catch the Rainbow, Snake Charmer). I'd rate this album up with some of the best ever recorded. As Richie Blackmore's band he pulled out some of his grooviest, hard rockin riffs he could come up with. You also really feel like pulling out the bong to let the sparks of old fly by. Not many old classic rock freaks mention this album, but I find that theres still a few out there that regard this album as one of the best in it's day. If you enough killer Rock N Roll this one is differently the one for you. Good times, or Bad times this Album is opted to teach you a lesson that you'll never forget. I highly recommend this album to any classic rock fan or any music fan in general. This is a must have for your collection. Drink your beer, smoke your pot and listen to Rainbow, hell you know that what our fathers did! Enjoy the tunes and Cheers!
Best Tracks: The Whole Godforsaken album is equally amazing!
While the history of Rainbow is well documented elsewhere, all you really need to know is that it was a band started by former Deep Purple guitarist, Ritchie Blackmore. Deep Purple routinely had Dio’s original band, Elf, open up for them on their tours, and thus Blackmore was quite impressed and invited Dio to join him on this musical venture. The result was something similar to Deep Purple at the time, but still a little different.
On their first release Rainbow essentially combined 70’s Rock, a little bit of blues, with a touch of early 70’s Metal; something that would later be much more pronounced on their next two releases. Unfortunately, at least to some Metal fans, this is largely a 70’s Rock release. But to me, that’s not a bad thing, since I’m a casual fan of 70’s Rock. The CD opens up with the now classic “Man On The Silver Mountain”, which has an instantly memorable riff and is probably the most Metal (though 70’s Metal) sounding song on here. The rest of the CD is actually quite varied. Not one song sounds the same and it seems that each track incorporates a fresh idea (like it or not, the 70’s was a great time for song writing). The guitar work is an obvious highlight as each song is very guitar driven and Blackmore uses everything at his disposable from slide guitar to intermittent solos. Dio’s vocals are in very fine form, he sounds pretty much like how he does now and his voice gives the band the unique atmosphere that only Dio can bring to a song. Dio’s voice, combined with Blackmore’s guitars, really helps carry songs like “The Temple Of The King” and “Sixteenth Century Greensleeves”. Other song highlights include "Stil I'm Sad", which is a very cool instrumental that is a lot more upbeat than the other songs and features quality guitar playing and "Self Portrait", which is surprisingly doomy . Also of note is the bass work, which like most 70 bands, is quite upfront and can be heard perfectly. The lyrics tend to be quite poetic at times and this helps add to the overall appeal as well.
I don’t really have any major gripes with this release, the actual music is very well performed and the music is very moody and engrossing. The only song that I’m not a huge fan of is “If You Don’t Like Rock ‘N Roll”. This track is ok but it effectively sounds a little too dated and has an annoying piano in the forefront that is considered typical to early Rock music, but it’s not my thing at all. The actual main problem, to many Metal fans, will be the fact that most of the songs are very laid back. Blackmore seemed to opt for a more mood and atmosphere heavy CD than one full with energy and oomph. I personally really like this approach and was very surprised the first time I heard this CD because I wasn’t expecting much. Now keep in mind, I enjoy 70’s music so chances are if you have absolutely no use for 70’s Rock, then you won’t like this release very much. However, if you’re more like me and like 70’s music, enjoy Dio’s vocals, and like Blackmore’s song writing and guitar work, then I highly recommend this even though Rainbow’s other Dio releases are superior and more Metal.
Song Highlights: Everything except If You Don't Like Rock 'N Roll