Rainbow – 20 Reasons To Love Rainbow 

Every now and again we like to honour artists we like – for whatever reasons – by running through some of our favourite recordings from their history and in this case varying lineups. The following are not in any supposed order of merit or anything like that…we leave all that to lesser outlets.

But it may be that you will feel like listening to some of the numbers again OR for the first time….as you will surely know by now, this site is not for one-act obsessives..one idiot Tubes fan said our choices were ‘wrong’!

Much laughter at JLTT headquarters. BTW my regard for Blackmore’s playing was confirmed when I went to the launch of ‘Deep Purple In Rock’, back in the mists of time…..

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GATES OF BABYLON has an eerie keyboard intro before the great Ronnie James Dio starts to sing, over a lively slightly Turkish rhythm. The sound is a galloping melee of synth strings, bubbling bass and emphatic drumming, with an altogether Classic Rock vibe. Then at @ 3.00 Ritchie starts a mean, twisting Eastern guitar run with a hint of delay. The drums pound solemnly through the changes and the axe is fluid and angry before phasing makes it sound even more ominous and the vocal returns. It begs to segue into  Zep’s Kashmir.

LONG LIVE ROCK’n’ROLL has Dio wailing over a heavy rock chug and the song itself has more than a hint of Purple Mk 3. The organ sits well in the mix and the drums are brisk and forceful. @ 1.38 the guitar starts to scream out, Blackmore’s nimble style to the fore as it curves off into reverb. The only thing missing is Alan Freeman’s voice coming in as it finishes. Anyone recall the Friday Rock Show?

SINCE YOU’VE BEEN GONE is a take on the excellent Russ Ballard number. He wrote for The Roulettes who backed Adam Faith and of course for Argent the post-Zombies group led by friend of our site Rod Argent. The chopping chord intro is unmistakable, the song then tumbles into a downward chord sequence and a Supertramp style bridge. The chorus has rung out through hundreds of stadiums. The chords do evoke the earlier Byrds song Chestnut Mare at times. It was a surprise to hear TV game show host Alexander Armstrong include this number is a recent live set! The guitar solo is clean and dextrous and it’s not really a tempo we hear much from this act, so it’s a standout.

STONE COLD has steady slow beat and concerns a repeated dream, with neat rock guitar fills here and there from Ritchie. It’s a curiously catchy number with a cool chorus. Perhaps an over looked tune in the Rainbow canon. Nice use of subtle flanging every now and again. The song itself would suit Alice Cooper. Before three minutes are up that Blackmore needle-sharp axe is back, sounding fine.

BLACK SHEEP OF THE FAMILY races into earshot, taken at a fast pace and shot through with Blackmore’s distinctive slide guitar licks. The chorus is rich and addictive but the middle eight shows further class. It’s the quality end of pop-rock with an insistent and toe-tapping chord progression. If the song had run another three minutes with a solo I for one would not be complaining!

SPOTLIGHT KID was written by Blackmore and Roger Glover, the vocal has that Rainbow melodic urgency that denotes them as such a musical outfit. It’s about someone addicted to attention. Yet it is unlikely to be a favourite of Simon Cowell. Such irony. The guitar solo after 2.00 is exhilarating and thrilling yet still melodic. That’s the fella’s gift isn’t it? The Tubesish keys runs here are also a delight.

FREEDOM FIGHTER showcases the voice of Joe Lynn Turner and is frantic and angry-sounding, that Rainbow gallop held steady. An encapsulation of energy, it shows how the act could switch singers but retain its edge. The vocal arrangement impresses and the drums keep a mean beat as the growly guitar seeps in @ 2:30 and Blackmore using an Octaver to double the dirt. Unrelenting rock power with some sophisticated keyboard work too.

LADY OF THE LAKE sails very close to LZ but Ronnie has his own singing schtick and it’s not long before a vivid chorus is heard. He always sounded so convincing to me even when delivering what are to me almost comic lyrics about devils and goblins. No wonder our buddy Glenn Hughes loves Dio to this day. Some fluid guitar adds to the impact of this selection. It is a fan favourite and it’s not hard to see why.

STILL I’M SAD was written by our Yardbirds mate Jim McCarty but here it is put into a hard and fast tempo with thunderous bass and much syncopation on the drums. The melody survives but the dark ominous vibe of the original version evaporates. For all that, the playing on this recording is top notch.

DESPERATE HEART has a decorative intro, then a Joe Lynn Turner vocal which is surely one of his best. Phased sections drift into the pounding rhythm arrangement with some twisting synth block chords. A pretty strong and probably underrated composition by Joe and Ritchie. The gymnastic guitar solo is fabulous and sharp as a tack.

CATCH THE RAINBOW is by Blackmore and Dio. It has a beautiful introduction with chorused guitar and steady drums. The melody rips off Little Wing much of the time, but no matter. This cut has such a gorgeous reflective ambience about it, it’s like a warm bath. The synth strings coo in the background as the calm guitar solo takes its time. What a pleasure to revisit this one.

RAINBOW EYES with its chorused guitar intro is almost a blues, but Ronnie uses a soft voice over Mellotron flutes which hint at Stairway To Theft. Shows what a versatile rock band can come up with.

DANGER ZONE is all edge and aggression, not sure whether they ever started shows with this tune. Again a very rock radio show sound about it. The guitar is adept and mysterious as a synth floats above it and runs are traded. The performance sort of outstrips the song

SNAKE CHARMER  ah, now you’re talking! Tricksy intro and then a burbling mix of bass and drums and wah wah guitar plus a Dio crooning vocal, one of his best, I venture. This is as close as Blackmore gets to Jimi in use of polyrhythms. At 1.48 the guitar sneers and cries into speedy figures with the fat bass right behind it. Thrilling stuff indeed! Hey was that a cowbell?

DRINKING WITH THE DEVIL is wild as **** and with Turner sounding like a tuneful Ozzy. Really ! The song never lets up, driven by the snare. Stadium stuff. Before two minutes are gone the haywire guitar is scattering notes all over the recording. A good song and a superior vocal. As good as Rainbow gets uptempo, I reckon and they really do sound like a band, here.

MISTREATED is a Blackmore and Dave Coverdale song but there is a good Rainbow live version. The greasy twisting riff arrives after some Blackmore doodling through the delay and upwards trilling, at @ 2.15. Heavy Hammond chording fattens the sound.

MAN ON THE SILVER MOUNTAIN has a deep flanging platform before the excellent vocal starts. Dio really sang the back off this song. The prodding tempo is fat with keyboard riffing and what sounds like a clavinet. At 2.15 the guitar wrings every nuance out of the changes, Ritchie sounding as though something is really niggling him. But I guess that’s just an integral element of his lead playing and makes him easy to pick out.

I SURRENDER is a fine Russ Ballard composition, all punch and singalong melody, that Supertramp piano pounding is featured here and there and the key guitar motif sings in Blackmore’s hands. As catchy as any Boston hit.

STREET OF DREAMS seems to be another overlooked tune and has excellent singing and a decent story lyric from Turner. Technically it would make a pretty good soul song in the hands of a David Ruffin. This is best-batch poprock but the guitar break lifts it up to another level.

STARGAZER is I will admit my own favourite Rainbow track. From the wild drum off its grinding insistent riff just gets to me. The flanged guitar pushes Dio through the frankly rather silly wizard tale but that Eastern twisting riff pattern just gets to me. I don’t think Ronnie sang better than this. Then at 3.20 the hypnotic sardonic slide guitar takes over and you had just better surrender to its spinning power…

Well that’s it for now…if we didn’t include your own favourite, this listening to our choices  will find their way to it…

Pete Sargeant

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Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow have released two new tracks ‘Land of Hope and Glory’ (a reworking of the 1902 British patriotic song of the same name from Edward Elgar’s Pomp and Circumstance March No. 1) and their reworking of the Russ Ballard penned 1981 Rainbow classic ‘I Surrender’ with new vocals recorded by current singer Ronnie Romero.

In addition, Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow will embark on a four-date June 2017 UK tour which includes a festival headliner slot at Stone Free Festival which takes place at O2 Arena, Greenwich, London, United Kingdom. 

For more information visit the band’s official Facebook page here: fb.com/Ritchieblackmore

The June 2017 UK Arena Tour will stop at the following venues: 

Rainbow

Saturday 17th June  2017 – Stone Free Festival, The O2 Arena, Greenwich, London, United Kingdom http://bit.ly/2rHnY8y

Thursday 22nd June 2017 – Manchester Arena, Manchester, United Kingdom http://bit.ly/2miS5Ag

Sunday 25th June 2017 – The SSE Hydro, Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom http://bit.ly/2n2viXI

Wednesday 28th June 2017 – Genting Arena, Birmingham, United Kingdom http://bit.ly/2naxmAA