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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