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Memories in Rock II

Review by Gary Hill

This new live album from Rainbow is so strong. The band really captures the sound and magic of the classic songs - both Rainbow and Deep Purple. The singer is Ronnie Romero, and he really does a great job of doing the songs originally performed by others. He really pulls off the Ronnie James Dio stuff particularly well. The only place where he seems to miss just a bit is on the Deep Purple song "Child in Time." It should be mentioned that Candice Night is one of two back up singers in the band.

All in all, if you've ever liked Rainbow, you should check this out. It's really a resurgence of the best of the group. They play a lot of the old songs with such style and power. If that wasn't enough, this double CD set includes a DVD full of interviews, and there is a new studio song from Rainbow at the end of the second disc.

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Track by Track Review
CD 1
Over the Rainbow

This is just a very short instrumental introduction consisting of the old chestnut done instrumentally.

Spotlight Kid
Blackmore's guitar kicks this off in style. They fire out into a scorching hot hard rocking number that really works well. It breaks out into an instrumental section that really shows off Blackmore's Deep Purple roots. He solos in some pretty awesome ways over an organ drenched section. Then the organ leads it out into a classically tinged jam from there. They work back out into the song proper to take it forward. A short burst of Purple like jamming ends the piece.
I Surrender
This is more of a hook laden pop rocker. Still, it has plenty of cool moments. This is just definite set in more of the "hit single" type of sound. I love the killer guitar fills on the cut. The instrumental section later includes guitar soloing that's decidedly classically influenced.
I've always loved this song. Blackmore's guitar opens it in style as a bass drum keeps the beat. As they power up for the entrance of the vocals it really intensifies. Around the four and a half minute mark, this drops way down. Mellower classical music moves around in the mix here.  It powers back out into the song proper after a while, driving forward in style.
Since You've Been Gone
I like the guitar and voice introduction to this classic quite a bit. They power it up in fine style from there.
Man on the Silver Mountain / Woman from Tokyo
As soon as the guitar riff for "Man on the Silver Mountain" is heard, I feel my excitement level rise. They put in a smoking hot performance of a song that's one of my favorites from the band. Blackmore's soloing on this cut is both melodic and fierce.  Around the three and a half minute they end that part of this two-fer and drop into more of a freeform guitar jam. It drops to drums and vocals before Blackmore's guitar rises upward bringing in the riff for "Woman from Tokyo." This has always been one of those Deep Purple songs that I thought was overplayed. Still, they just do a short chorus bit here, and then launch back into "Man on the Silver Mountain" to bring it back home.
16th Century Greensleeves
A hard rocking, but stripped back motif opens this for the first vocals. The cut starts to build outward after the first chorus, creating a sound that's trademark Rainbow and Deep Purple. I love the killer guitar soloing that emerges on the extended instrumental movement. It works through some great stuff before they bring it back out into the song proper to work through the remaining parts of the cut. 
Soldier of Fortune
Blackmore starts this cut on acoustic guitar. The vocals come over the top of this mellower mode to move it outward from there. This is a balladic cut that gets a bit more intense, but remains sedate except for a short somewhat powered up moment near the end. This feels a lot like something Blackmore might do with Blackmore's Night.
Perfect Strangers
Always one of my favorite Deep Purple songs, the keyboards lead this out of the gate. This is a pretty faithful live rendition, really. They pull it off in style, working through the various changes.
Difficult to Cure
They power this in with rocking classical stylings. It works into the familiar classical motifs from there. Blackmore's guitar sound is so good. The cut works through a number of changes with the keyboards taking command for quite a lot of the composition. This really is a textbook example of how you can combine rock music and classical to produce something amazing. I'd call this piece "progressive rock" for sure. It's also an epic, taking up almost 16 minutes of this live performance. The guitar takes charge again around the 14 minute mark as they bring it back to the opening section to take through it's final paces.
All Night Long
Another from more of the pop rock side of the band, that's probably exactly what we need after that previous piece. This still has some meat on its bones and works quite well. Honestly, I'm not a big fan of the studio version of this, so I think this manages to elevate it a bit. The chorus bit at the end outwears its welcome a bit, though.
Child in Time
Another of my favorites from Deep Purple, this is also another epic piece. The keys and drums open this in style. As the vocals first enter, it's the first point here, where I don't think they work as well as the original ones did. As it continues, though, it recovers nicely. It builds upward in fine style, keeping right up with the original. The staccato section around the three minute mark is all class, and Blackmore solos outward from there. They put in some powerhouse jamming as it continues, before dropping it way down for the next mellower movement. The audience lends some help as the cut works back upward. The closing bit is so powerful as it rises upward into chaos before a final resolution.
CD 2

This has always been one of my favorites from Rainbow, but then again, I definitely prefer the Dio era of the band. This is a great live performance, but it seems a bit less mean and meaty than the original studio take on the tune. Still, when it's this good, who cares? This has some killer guitar soloing, but it's Blackmore, what do you expect.

Long Live Rock'n'roll / Lazy
The audience starts singing this one right out of the gate. Blackmore's guitar rises up as they continue with the chorus chant. The rest of the band join after a couple measures. This is a pretty solid rendition of the cut. They drop it back mid-track allow the audience to again sing part of it. They end that part of the cut after the six minute mark, and work out to a cool blues jam. By about the seven and a half minute mark that has become the familiar riff of the Deep Purple song. They do a cool version of the cut, landing pretty close to the original.
Catch the Rainbow
Another classic old school Rainbow cut, this is a slow moving and dramatic piece of music with a lot of contrasts. This live performance really captures the magic of it quite well.
Black Night
A bit of guitar soloing leads to the riff of the song. The audience responds to the breaks on the introduction. They fire out into the song proper from there. A drum solo takes it mid-track and holds it for several minutes. I'm not a big fan of drum solos, so it doesn't do a lot for me. but your mileage may vary. They eventually work their way back out to the song proper to bring it all back together.
Carry on Jon
Acoustic guitar starts this song that's written for the late, great Jon Lord. It has a Celtic musical element to it. There are classical elements built into the cut, too. The organ work that enters to guide it mid-track really feels a lot like something Lord would have played. This instrumental is intricate, pretty and a nice change of pace.
Temple of the King
This Rainbow classic is delivered in style. The female voices (including Night) add a lot to the mix. This has a strong balance between the more subtle and the rocking. It has a lot of Deep Purple sound in the mix, too. This lands more on the mellower side, but does rise up at points.
Smoke on the Water
The first vocals on this come after a short introduction and are delivered acapella. In fact, the first verse has just the audience for accompaniment. As the first "smoke on the water" comes across, the first real instrumental work of the disc is heard. They power in from there, delivering a rather fresh take on the cut, while still keeping it feeling pretty faithful. I love the soaring guitar solo section on this.
Bonus Track
Waiting for a Sign

A new studio song, this is a bluesy rocker that really has all the trappings of classic Rainbow. It's a great cut with some particularly strong hooks and peaks. Really, this is a new classic cut from the group, and Blackmore shines, as always.

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