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After a very commercial and mixed release of "Difficult to Cure", Ritchie and co. came back one year later with "Straight Between the Eyes." There was another switch at keyboard as Dave Rosenthal stepped in to replace Don Airey. With the band coming back to the studio just a year later, it is amazing how Turner finally feels at place with the band and his voice shines on this record and Ritchie incorporating more guitar into the songs strengthens this release as well.
The best song is the opener "Death Alley Driver." The running and thumping bass line of Roger Glover and the dueling guitar and keyboard solo is specatcular and shows the musicianship of Ritchie and Rosenthal. This could be called Rainbow's version "Highway Star" as it is about driving fast. This is one of the best songs Ritchie has ever done.
What makes this album strong is the riffage. Some of the riffs displayed here carry a couple of the songs most notably "Power" and "Rock Fever." The latter is very fast and high octane and the former has a mid-paced rocking riff with a nice drum beat to carry the flow of the song. "Miss Mistreated" also has some good moments despite the terrible opening with Joe Lynn Turner whining that he never meant to hurt his baby. "Stone Cold" is also a highlight with a haunting keyboard intro and goes into a fierce pounding with the chorus. A great, melodic and emotional guitar solo comes and completes this tune.
A couple songs completely fail on here unfortunately. "Tite Squeeze" is a horrible, slow song with Turner begging his woman to bring him to his knees and give him that tight squeeze. This song literally made me sick. "Tearing Out My Heart" wins the award for another bad ballad about some girl who broke Turner's heart. Nothing interesting, just a typical ballad. "Eyes of Fire" closes the album and features some obsure arrangements like "Gates of Babylon," but the problem is this is a Dio song. Turner sings his heart out on this tune, but it just sounds wrong with Turner singing it and plus the song itself is nowhere near as good as "Gates of Babylon."
Joe Lynn Turner does give one hell of performance on this album though. The way he quickly, but soundly sings "Rock Fever" is impressive as his melodic and brooding vocal line in "Stone Cold." He doesn't seem to force or sound whiny on "Death Alley Driver" and articulates the vocals well. "Power" also demonstrates that he can deliver a fun, energetic rock song just about as good as anyone else.
This is the strongest album of the Joe Lynn Turner era of Rainbow. The guitar and keyboard performances of Rosenthal and Blackmore are supberb, and the vocals of Turner are impressive as well. "Death Alley Driver" and "Stone Cold" are the best on here and any fan will enjoy them. This is a straight-up, fun, energetic rock 'n' roll as it is very enjoyable for fans of Ritchie's work.
"Difficult To Cure" was definitely Rainbow's hand at radio-friendly pop rock, adding more fluff to the mix and also seeing crooner Joe Lynn Turner join the fold, to replace Graham Bonnett. This meant that the blazing guitar work of axe master Ritchie Blackmore would be shoved into the background. NEVER a good move, and it proved to be just that.
Enter "Straight Between The Eyes", a harder rocking, more guitar based album, just like the good ol' days. Yes, it still has some of those commercial elements, but it now has some extra kick to it, thanks to Ritchie's riffs. Joe Lynn Turner is still here, to keep the accessible edge, but he does a good enough job here, without sounding too out of place. Drummer Bobby Rondinelli shows off his skill quite well here, finding a balance between aggression and groove. Roger Glover shows once again that he's an awesome bassist that can hold down the rock solid foundation like very few can. Keyboardist David Rosenthal is kept in the background for most of this album, staying mostly with an atmospheric approach, which works quite well. And Ritchie Blackmore on guitars, well what else can i say?........It's Ritchie. Of course he rules!
The albums gets kickstarted with the damn near SPEED METAL of "Death Alley Driver". You can see this is as Rainbow's version of "Highway Star". It even has a similar structure, but nonetheless, it's still a very solid track. Fast riffs, fast solo, it's all good. "Stone Cold" is the commercial, radio-friendly ballad here, and it pays off, as this is one of the band's biggest hits and one of the better songs here. It's a pretty moody ballad, infectious and well-exacuted, nothing really more to say.
We then get into "Bring On The Night(Dream Chaser)". A hard rocker, with a catchy, poppy chorus. Nice guitar work, it's a typical commercial hard rocker, but it works. Now here's a song that kinda hit me out of left field, and it being an album cut, it's not very well known and therefore under-appreciated..."Tite Squeeze". It's kinda slow paced, got a cool groove throughout and the chorus and pre-chorus is just cool. Everything works well here. A highlight, for sure. "Tearin' Out My Heart" is another ballad, and not as interesting as "Stone Cold", kind of boring."Power" is another hard rocker, that also got some radioplay for the band, and rightfully so, it has enough kick for the hard rockers, yet accessible for others to get into it. "Miss Mistreated" to me at least, sounds like a lost Foreigner song! Not quite a bad thing, as this track isn't bad, but it's not the best. It kind of gets old after awhile, and eventually you'll find yourself skipping it, even though it's not that bad. And for the record...i kind of like Foreigner.
We get to the energetic "Rock Fever" now. A straight forward rocker, for the most part, that contains a chorus that'll stay with you for days, maybe weeks, depending on how much you listen to the song. And finally, we get to the heavily atmospheric "Eyes Of Fire". This song sounds like a Dio-era Rainbow epic, with Joe Lynn Turner on vocals. Not as interesting or exciting as, say, "Stargazer" or "Gates Of Babylon", but it's still worth a listen, and it's good to hear that style again.
So, we see Rainow flex their hard rock muscle again, without sacrificing too much of the accessibility of "Difficult To Cure", but it's definitely less fluffy and more exciting. This is the best album of the Joe Lynn Turner era, and is worth looking into.