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Boston 1981

Review by Gary Hill

This might well be my favorite Rainbow live recording. This show was purely on fire. Joe Lynn Turner was on top of his game, putting in a powerhouse performance. The band was equally inspired. This feels a lot like Deep Purple in a lot of ways, but that’s a good thing. Of course, when you’ve got Ritchie Blackmore paired with Roger Glover, that is a natural thing, too. Don Airey and Bobby Rondinelli round out the lineup. The sound is top-notch. This physical aspect of the set is classy, too, basically a small LP gatefold sleeve for the CD. It’s an all around impressive release, that leans toward progressive rock at times.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2016  Volume 3 at

Track by Track Review
Spotlight Kid

There is a short bit from “The Wizard of Oz” at the start that gives way to an instrumental jam of “Somewhere over the Rainbow” to start this. That crescendos around the one minute mark, and the guitar takes it into the next segment. That feels a lot like Deep Purple’s “Burn.” The song is different, but there are definitely comparisons to be made. This really feels like fiery Deep Purple. The instrumental section on this works out to some seriously progressive rock oriented stuff. It’s almost like Deep Purple meets ELP in some ways. .

Love's No Friend
A blues based rocker, this one is classic Rainbow. It really feels like Deep Purple, but that’s to be expected. It’s a great tune, and everyone is on fire here. There is some more incredible jamming here. I love the keys and the guitar, but you can’t overlook the drums or the bass. The instrumental section is extended and on fire.
I Surrender
Classical styled keyboards start things here. They fire out from there into a smoking hot hard rocking jam. This isn’t a huge change, but rather another killer rocking tune. The instrumental stuff focuses more purely on the guitar than on some of the others, but the keys still get to shine at times.
Man on the Silver Mountain
While Turner isn’t Ronnie James Dio, he puts in a killer performance here. Sure, it’s different, but it’s potent. This has a real Deep Purple kind of vibe in a lot of ways. I think I prefer the studio take, but this one has its charms.
Catch the Rainbow
I like the mellower section at the start of this tune quite a bit. It’s good to provide a bit of a respite from all the fiery stuff. It’s also a great performance. Sure, it’s not Dio. It’s still great, though. This gets into more rocking stuff. In some ways the construction makes me think of “Child in Time” a bit.
Can't Happen Here
This is a screaming hot Rainbow jam. It’s fast paced, catchy and just plain cool. The Deep Purple reference is, of course, valid, too.
Lost in Hollywood
Keyboards open this piece. The group join shortly, and we’re off on another smoking hot Rainbow journey. The keys take over again for a time mid-track. Then it works out to a guitar based section that’s gets pretty crazed and a bit weird. It still works, though. They fire back out from there into more song-oriented territory to take it to the close.
Difficult To Cure
A neo-classical jam opens this. They work through on that in some fiery fashion. It grows and evolves with some great instrumental work as they continue. This instrumental is another part of the album that really makes me think of Emerson Lake and Palmer quite a bit. Just the whole arrangement of classical turned rock gives that vibe, but when you add in some ELP like music, it’s kind of a given. There is even one passage that reminds me of Yes. A drum solo takes it for a time late in the piece.
Long Live Rock N' Roll
I’ve always loved the album for which this song serves as the title track. This screaming hot rendition is different because of Turner versus Dio. It’s not a detriment, but just a difference. This is still smoking hot, fast paced rocker that really works.
Smoke on the Water
This is listed as “Smoke on the Water,” but it’s actually more of a Deep Purple medley. It starts with part of “Lazy.” Then we get “Woman from Tokyo” for a while. Of course, those two parts are sans vocals. “Smoke on the Water” comes in and is a full song, and makes up a lot more of the track. Turner’s vocals work really well here. This is a killer rendition, really.
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