Thursday, July 9, 2009

Retrospective: Ronnie James Dio - Rainbow

Rainbow was supposed to be the title of Ritchie Blackmore's first solo album, not the name of a band. Blackmore was still a member of Deep Purple, and Dio was still the front-man of Elf (his previous band). But, after the success of recording, Blackmore decided to make Rainbow a full-fledged band, and this album their first release. The record companies would not release the album without putting Blackmore's name in the title, hence the album being Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow, and not just Rainbow. This album is alot more bluesy then the following releases, and that is because the backing band for this release was the group Elf, who had been opening for Deep Purple on the road for a number of years.
This is my favorite Rainbow album, it still has soul, with the moving bass and story-based lyrics, it held my attention without becoming boring or preachy. "Man On The Silver Mountain" is one of the few Rainbow songs you will hear on a classic rock radio station (albeit rare indeed), and the song "If You Don't Like Rock 'n' Roll" is downright funky, with a sort of swing feel to it. Great stuff.
Rainbow Rising is claimed to be the definitive Rainbow album, with longer songs then the other albums (the entire second side of the record was taken up by two eight-plus minute songs), which allowed Dio to fully tell his stories of magic and mysticism. While not my favorite album (see above), it is pretty damn close. This release is much more straight-forward rock then it's predecessor. This is more due to Ritchie Blackmore disbanding the group (save for Dio) that recorded Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow, and reforming it with artists he saw as a better fit, then anything else. I'm not sure if that is a good this or not, as this album is great, but as I look more into Ritchie Blackmore's past, I see him as a bit of a pre-Madonna, with firings and disbandment in any band that he is a part of. I'd say he has Axl Rose Syndrome, but he shows up to acts, and he predates Gun's 'N' Roses by two decades. Oh well, if the shoe fits...
While this album does have my favorite song on it (the title track) it is my least favorite of the Dio-era Rainbow catalog (everything after Dio is barely classified as rock). The title track and "Kill The King" are favorites of heavy metal bands, they cover these two more then any other Rainbow songs. This album is the beginnings of the mainstream-style that Ritchie Blackmore wanted for his "solo project." While it still focuses on "wizards and sorcery" the songs were much more straight forward - even including a love ballad, "Rainbow Eyes." After this release Blackmore wanted to further move the band mainstream, prompting Dio to quit, later joining Black Sabbath, and making heavy metal history.

There were more releases after Dio left the band, although none even as close as awesome as the original three albums. The mainstream style landed the group a few hits and increased album sales, but Blackmore sold out (I would say the band Rainbow sold out, but Blackmore replaced most of the musicians after every release, so you can't call it a "band" per-se). The Dio-era was by far the best, but he left for greener pastures, landing the short gig as Black Sabbath's frontman, preceding his long solo career. A good trade if you ask me.

No comments: