Reviews Zone

Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow: Stranger In Us All – Expanded edition (HNE Recordings) 19th May 2017



4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)



One of the very first ‘big’ gigs I ever saw was Rainbow at the Granby Halls, Leicester (a huge hangar style roller skating venue where the likes of Bowie and The Stones appeared, which was sadly demolished and is now part of the Tigers Rugby club car park!) circa 1976/77, around the same time as seeing The Who (Steve Gibbons Band on support) and Bad Company at the same venue. Those three gigs really lit the fuse inside me to want to work in music in some way.

I had always been into photography and writing, so it was a natural fit to become a music photographer and journalist – as of 1978. But those first three concerts most definitely inspired me, and I still remember the spectacular light show and pyrotechnics at the Rainbow gig, and the power and energy of the music.    

The rock band Rainbow formed in 1975 when Ritchie Blackmore left Deep Purple to join forces with the band Elf, featuring Ronnie James Dio, to record debut album, “Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow”. Named after Ritchie’s favourite hangout, the Rainbow Bar & Grill on Sunset Blvd, he steered Rainbow through seven studio LPs, plus a double live LP, with albums fronted by Joe Lynn Turner, Graham Bonnet and Ronnie James Dio. The band featured such respected rock luminaries as drummer Cozy Powell, bass guitarist and producer Roger Glover and keyboard player Don Airey.

Rainbow split in 1984 when Ritchie joined Deep Purple’s Mk2 reunion, and a further tumultuous decade. Ritchie quit Purple once more following a 1993 Helsinki gig, this time for good. Shortly after, it was announced that the guitarist was reforming Rainbow. Lots of rumours floated about as to which stars might feature in the line-up, but the new record actually featured a band of relative unknowns.

The resulting album, “Stranger In Us All”, was issued under the name Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow in August 1995, with a band featuring Paul Morris on keyboards, Greg Smith on bass, John O’Reilly on drums and Blackmore’s Night’s Candice Night on background vocals. Fronted by Doogie White, the singer was an inspired choice; a huge fan of Ritchie’s career in both Purple and Rainbow, White formed a strong writing partnership with the famed guitarist.

The 10 track album closed with a revisit of The Yardbirds’ ‘Still I’m Sad’, which had been recorded for Rainbow’s debut, 20 years earlier. Ritchie’s classical flights of fancy were able to truly fly on his arrangement of Edvard Grieg’s ‘Hall Of The Mountain King’, the penultimate cut. The opener ‘Wolf To the Moon’, ‘Hunting Humans (Insatiable)’ and ‘Ariel’ all worthy additions to the Rainbow catalogue.

Live, songs from both Rainbow and Purple were revisited, and on this 2017 release among the three bonus tracks,  we get a live recording from a 1995 Swedish concert of ‘The Temple Of The King’, a song that originally appeared on the band’s first record, in 1975. Plus, the “radio edit” of the single ‘Arial’, and ‘Emotional Crime’, another live cut that has previously only been released in Japan.

The extensive liner notes include a personal account from singer Doogie White, plus artwork and memorabilia from Doogie’s own Rainbow collection.


 By Simon Redley



1 out of 5 stars (1 / 5) ‘Dull Zone’
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