CD Review of The Village Lanterne by Blackmore’s Night and Live In Munich 1977 by Rainbow

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Buy your copy from Blackmore’s Night:
The Village Lanterne
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Released: 2006
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Buy your copy from Rainbow:
Live In Munich 1977
starstarstarhalf starno star Label: Eagle Rock
Released: 2006
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A mind is like a parachute, it only works when it’s open. Richie Blackmore, guitar god and founding force behind two enormously important bands in the hard rock genre, Rainbow and Deep Purple, aborted yet another Rainbow incarnation (in 1995) to write and record (gulp) Renaissance-flavored music with his fiancé (who happens to be 26 years his junior), Candice Night. I half expected ukuleles, flutes, whistles and kazoos while picturing everyone running around a green field of plants dressed like Men Without Hats in the “Safety Dance” video. Okay, a kazoo isn’t an instrument featured in the Renaissance, but it should have been.

The album, titled The Village Lanterne and credited to Blackmore’s Night, is filled with titles like “Faerie Queen,” “Old Mille Inn” and “World of Stone,” which certainly fit into the Renaissance vibe. The album is pleasant and doesn’t feature any coconuts as percussive instruments, but it just makes one long for Richie to re-convene Rainbow again and let his electric guitar start screaming. The best tracks on the disc are the two different versions of the ‘80s Rainbow hit “Street of Dreams.” One of them features a duet by Night with ex-Rainbow vocalist Joe Lynn Turner. Blackmore is a genius, no doubt, and he attacks this music with precision and passion. The problem is that is a very narrow niche, no matter how well executed.

On the other hand, someone unearthed a live performance of Rainbow from 1977 with a lineup that featured Blackmore on guitar, Ronnie James Dio on vocals, Cozy Powell on drums, Bob Daisley on bass and David Stone on keyboards. As with all things related to Rainbow and Deep Purple, the lineup was different than the one that released the debut Rainbow record in 1975. Daisley was the third bass player, replacing Mark Clarke, who had succeeded Jimmy Bain. Stone replaced Tony Carey. Regardless of those changes, the heart and soul of Rainbow was Blackmore, Dio and Powell.

Live in Munich contains only eight tracks, but they are very long pieces. Rainbow’s progressive roots are explored as nearly every track ebbs from loud bombastic guitar and drum work to quieter noodling passages featuring Blackmore bringing it way, way down. Dio sounds great and his vocals on the Deep Purple cover “Mistreated” are a fascinating contrast to David Coverdale’s, which were featured on the Deep Purple DVD California Jam 1974. Most of these tracks do run too long, but they provide a fascinating look at Blackmore’s influence in driving the music in exactly the direction he desired, regardless of what others expected. The sound is a bit muddy and I do wish the drums were mixed better, but overall it is a pretty cool listen, far from perfect, but interesting nonetheless.

~R. David Smola