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HARDWARES

RITCHIE BLACKMORE’S RAINBOW

Black Masquerade

(Eagle Rock)

Reviewed by : Mark Gromen
Rating : 7.0

Arguably the worst RAINBOW line-up, Blackmore limping along, trying to keep the name alive, single-handedly. Fresh from leaving DEEP PURPLE, for a second time (’93) and fighting uphill against the rising Grunge tide (where no one seemingly cared about musical virtuosity), it’s easy to understand why he ultimately packed this in too, opting to focus on BLACKMORE’S NIGHT, which would debut less than two years later. Candice Night was already on tour, backing vocalist Doogie White from the shadows. A double CD is also available, lifted from the long running DVD shot in the arena sized venue, for German TV show Rockpalast. All or parts of five Stranger In Us All tracks are included in the otherwise star-studded setlist, which not only hits the Ronnie James Dio, Graham Bonnet and Joe Lynn Turner eras, but includes Purples’ ‘Black Night’ and newly minted ‘Perfect Strangers’ in addition to those the Man In Black had already adopted as his own. Odd, both of their biggest 80s (American?) hits: ‘Street Of Dreams’ and ‘Stone Cold’ are absent.

There are copious, detailed liner notes. Most of the energy launched by rousing opener ‘Spotlight Kid’ quickly dissipates with an unknown (then, as it is now) ‘Too Late For Tears’. The initial third follows a similar old vs. new format, leading up to a pointless Paul Morris (who?) keyboard solo, (thankfully) the only member afforded an accredited showcase. No faulting the final half dozen, career spanning succession though! Throughout, the lighting is hazy and pretty dark, lots of deep blues and reds. White changes the lyrics (music adapting traditional German melody for ‘The Happy Wanderer’) for one impromptu verse of ‘Long Live Rock N Roll’. He does a similar ad lib, in a nearly a cappella ‘Greensleeves’. A very staccato, New Wave-ish ‘Hunting Humans’ seems a decade too late and makes little use of the talent onstage. However, ‘Black Masquerade’ might be the best “unknown” RAINBOW gem! A speedy rendition of ‘Still I’m Sad’ sees White trip over the lyrics. He’s a little more graceful afoot, running around the stage during Chuck Bergi’s brief drum solo. Only a quick (one minute?) run through the opening verse & chorus of ‘Since You Been Gone’, then straight into ‘Perfect Strangers’. The encore duo: ‘Burn’ and embellished ‘Smoke On The Water’, close things out nicely.

Given the great, classic line-up packages that have been unearthed/re-discovered by Eagle, this one (as interesting as some of the “modifications” to well-known numbers may be) is well down on the “must have’” list of priorities.




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