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Rainbow

Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow - Stranger In Us All

Review by Gary Hill
Once upon a time Ritchie Blackmore was known as the guitarist for Deep Purple. Eventually he left that band and formed Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow. In the 90s, though, he got back into the Deep Purple came for Perfect Strangers.  In 1997 he would form Blackmore's Night with his wife Candice Night, but by 1995 he had left Deep Purple and put together a brand new incarnation of Rainbow. This album is the result of that. To me Rainbow at times got too pop rock oriented and lost a lot of their fire. This album found them reaching back to the earlier, meatier period of the band. It's actually quite a strong release. This new edition includes three bonus tracks in addition to the album proper.
 
This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2017  Volume 4 at lulu.com/strangesound.
Track by Track Review
Wolf to the Moon

They waste no time, powering in with this hard rocking number. It calls to mind Deep Purple in a lot of ways. Yet, it's also trademark Rainbow at the time. There is a lot of blues rock here. Blackmore's guitar soloing on this is decidedly classically oriented.

 

Cold Hearted Woman

There is a meaty, almost metal element to this. The song feels like something that would have been at home in the early Dio fronted days of Rainbow.  The guitar solo on this is more along the lines of blues rock. This is another stomper for sure.

Hunting Humans (Insatiable)
Now, this is quite different. Somehow it makes me think of some of the electronic pop rock of acts like Gary Numan. Mind you, this is much more guitar oriented, but song structure wise, it seems related. It's more of a stripped back rocker in a lot of ways. Parts get into more trademark Rainbow sounds as it builds up.  While this isn't my favorite kind of thing here, it lends some variety to the set.
Stand and Fight
Straight ahead hard rocking sounds, this isn't a standout cut. The thing is, there are plenty of albums on which this would be a highlight. There is just so much good stuff here that it sort of becomes an "also ran." There is some harmonica on this tune adding to the blues rock vibe.
Ariel
Drums start this. Then Blackmore's guitar weaves some serious magic with some powerhouse jamming. This is more of a power-ballad as it works to the song proper. I really dig the more rocking parts of this song.  There is some smoking hot guitar soloing, but it's Blackmore - what do you expect? I dig Candice Night's backing vocals on this cut.
Too Late for Tears
A straight-ahead rocking stomper, this is solid stuff.
Black Masquerade

This has some trademark Rainbow sounds in it. It's a highlight of the set for sure, working really well. It's a real powerhouse number. A little Celtic based section mid-track hints at the kind of sound Blackmore would do a couple years later with Blackmore's Night.

Silence
This is another screaming hot rocker. A horn section brings something different to it. The vocal performance is literally a screamer. The guitar soloing seems particularly inspired and on fire.
Hall of the Mountain King

This adaptation of the old classic piece is a cool rock and roller with some metallic aspects.

Still I'm Sad
Starting with an extended guitar solo, this is a cover of the old Yardbirds song. Rainbow clearly makes it their own while paying tribute to the original.
Bonus Tracks
 

Emotional Crime (Japan Bonus Track)

Here is a cool bluesy rocker that's trademark Rainbow. That said, it's not as strong as the stuff that actually made the album.

Ariel (Radio Edit)

This is another version of the earlier cut. It's effective in this format, as it was in the original version.

The Temple of the King (Live)

While the powered up movement mid-track is pure hard rocking Rainbow, a lot of this song seems to call to mind the kind of music that Blackmore would later do with Blackmore's Night.

 
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