Rainbow - Rising

richardbrichardb Poole, Dorset
edited August 1 in year-1976

Personally speaking 'Rising' was a pivotal album and I freely admit to being a huge fan of Ronnie James Dio.

Rainbow - Rising
ARTIST: Rainbow
ALBUM: Rising
LABEL: Polydor
SERIAL: 2490 137
YEAR: 1976
CD REISSUE: Click here for reissue list

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: England Flag
LINEUP: Ronnie James Dio - vocals * Ritchie Blackmore - guitar * Tony Carey - keyboards, orchestron in 'Stargazer' * Jimmy Bain - bass * Cozy Powell - drums

Additional Musicians: Munich Philharmonic Orchestra - strings, horn * Fritz Sonnleitner - concert master * Rainer Pietsch - conductor

TRACK LISTING: 01 Tarot Woman * 02 Run With The Wolf * 03 Starstruck * 04 Do You Close Your Eyes * 05 Stargazer * 06 A Light In The Black

Background

Rainbow were one of the very first bands that captivated my imagination when I outgrew watching 'Top Of The Pops' on TV in the mid 1970's and first started listening to music properly. I vividly recall as a teenager rummaging through the racks of my local record shop and my eyes immediately being drawn to the stunning (and dare I say it iconic) artwork of Rainbow's 'Rising' LP. To me at least the cover perfectly defined the musical contents - something majestic, mystical and truly powerful.

The Songs

Whilst he may have been diminutive in stature, Ronnie James Dio was in possession of a towering voice. He commanded your attention and respect, even if at times he did appear to have attended the 'Dungeons and Dragons' school of lyric writing. Though no-one has perfected this style more than he. The fledging musical partnership with the mercurial Mr Blackmore which had explored the quasi-classical and mystical themes on 'Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow' truly blossomed on 'Rising'.

The haunting keyboard synthesizer intro on 'Tarot Woman' (not quite up there with Angel's 'Fortune' though surely it runs it close?) segues into a galloping guitar riff by Ritchie Blackmore, and the first of many stunning displays of fretboard action by the man in black. The pile driving 'Run With The Wolf' settles into a slower more powerful groove, though with a suitably melodramatic chorus which Dio vocalises to maximum effect.

'Starstruck' and 'Do you close your eyes' are equally hard hitting, though more conventional rockers. However it's over on side two that Rainbow really stretch themselves musically and start to show, dare I say it, their true colours. 'Stargazer' is every bit as epic, as the song title implies. I was completely blown away when I first heard it nearly 40 years ago and still am now. On this track Cozy Powell displays all the percussive flair he's known for, Dio belts out the lyrics with gusto and Blackmore shreds the life out of his guitar. If that's not over the top enough for you, the band are also accompanied by the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra - phew!

The album's grand finale is 'A Light In The Black' which also weighs in at an impressive eight minutes. This is played at a faster pace than 'Stargazer' though equally powerful. The guitar keyboard interplay here is simply stunning and has rarely been equalled in my book. I'm not sure why so many people have such a downer on Ritchie Blackmore. He's a supremely talented guitarist and much misunderstood I reckon..

In Summary

Whilst the mystical lyrical theme was continued on 'Long Live Rock And Roll', Rainbow started moving in a more commercial direction as my fellow writer Eric alluded to in his review of that album. Dio departed for pastures greener where he was free to pursue his own direction. Much as I liked Rainbow with Joe Lynn Turner, they never had the same appeal after Dio left.

Personally speaking 'Rising' was a pivotal album and I freely admit to being a huge fan of Ronnie James Dio. Of all the vocalists I've listened to over the years, it is him, rather than Steve Perry that has probably left the largest (again if you'll pardon the weak pun) impression on me.


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