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Pop Rainbow! - 62%

Acrobat, August 12th, 2007

After three albums, Ritchie Blackmore decides he wanted commercial success and as such decided to play songs about and relationships instead of men on silver mountains. Ronnie James Dio (thankfully) decided that he didn't want to do this and as such left Rainbow, so Ritchie, after drunkenly trying to get Ian Gillan to join Rainbow found Graham Bonnet. Bonnet unfortunately looks like he should work in accounts, however he can sing these 'boy meets girl' songs quite well (albeit in a very cheesy fashion).

Musically 'Down to Earth' as the title may suggest is more basic musically than the Dio-era albums however it's not completely dumbed down as Ritchie still provides some brilliant classical influenced lead work and a fair few great riffs (well it is Blackmore after all). However despite this change in direction I would of not minded this if the song writing was on par with say 'Long Live Rock 'N' Roll' or 'Rising' however there is a fair amount of filler here with some downright throw away material such as 'No Time to Lose' which is like 'L.A. Connection' but even worse. Perhaps surprisingly most of the good songs on this album are the more poppy numbers with 'All Night Long' being my particular favourite despite some absolutely absurd lyrics for instance 'You're sort of young but you're over age' which comes across as slightly creepy.

As with most Rainbow albums this features line up changes as previously mentioned Graham Bonnet is vocals and although he's not to my liking as vocalist he does a good enough job. Bob Daisley has been replaced on Bass by Roger Glover who for some reason plays rather boringly especially when compared with his groundbreaking playing on Deep Purple's masterful 'Machine Head' and 'Fireball' albums. Journeyman Don Airey is on keyboards and yet again although he is an excellent player he comes across as somewhat restrained as to keep with the albums poppy direction. So it can be said that no only is 'Down to Earth' a step down in terms of song writing quality but also the playing is not as good as previous albums with only Blackmore and Cozy Powell giving exceptional performances.

Some Rainbow fans see 'Down to Earth' as a transitional album between the epic hard rock of the Dio albums and the pop rock of the Joe Lynn Turner albums, I personally could see this point if this album had more songs like the excellent 'Lost in Hollywood' which is reminiscent of 'Kill the King' in places. However, songs like 'Since You been gone' are nothing but pop.

So this album can be seen as the point at which Rainbow stopped making great albums and became more of a singles band. This change in direction paid off commercially (as 'Since You Been Gone' was a massive hit single) but it definitely lost the interest of a lot of fans.