RAINBOW - Memories In Rock II
March 26, 2018, a year ago
(Minstrel Hall Music)
Much like both Eagle Rock series, the vintage '76/'77 German shows and the first Memories Of Rock compilation (also from Deutsche shows: Loreley and Bietigheim), not to mention the full Birmingham, England gig, (likewise in the summer of 2016, that setlist repeated here, almost verbatim), this latest two audio discs, plus one interview DVD, merely offers a repackaging of previously heard material, culled from a trio of UK dates, a year later. The major difference being Ritchie Blackmore apparently heard the gripes about too much Deep Purple material (under a rejuvenated/reactivated Rainbow banner) and dug out a couple of nuggets instead: "Temple Of The King" and Graham Bonnet era "All Night Long". As a complete career retrospective, there's also the Blackmore's Night composition "Carry On Jon", a tribute to the late Deep Purple keyboardist Jon Lord. While it does include "Waiting For A Sign", the first single Blackmore has issued under the Rainbow moniker since 1996, the lone "must see/hear" element is the collection of ten interviews, beginning with a half hour for Blackmore and then decreasing length segments with all the band members (10 minutes with singer Ronnie Romero) down to less essential chats with back-up singers, road hands and the tour manager.
A year on, Romero seems a little more comfortable (less pressure?) with the material, although anyone listening to the Ronnie James Dio renditions for 40+ years can't get that trademark out of their ears. Cherry-picking the best rendition from each of the three concerts, "Spotlight Kid" gives Stratovarius keyboardist Jens Johansson a chance to strut his stuff, prominently in the mix. Quixotically, the Joe Lynn Turner era output (the aforementioned, plus female vocals backed "I Surrender") is over, straight out of the gate. Odd, given the success of "Stone Cold" and "Street Of Dreams", not to mention a worthy inclusion in the more upbeat "Death Alley Driver". As a live show, slotting the sedate Purple classic "Mistreated" after the bouncy start just kills all the momentum, only enlivened by the short "Since You've Been Gone" follow-up.
Unsure how to feel about the additional backing voices, especially for "Man On A Silver Mountain", one of the definitive Dio tunes. There's a joke in there somewhere: "How many singers does it take to replace Dio?" After the guitarist struts his stuff on "16th Century Greensleeves," acoustic rendition of "Soldier Of Fortune" is one of the better moments. The extensive 15:48 "Difficult To Cure" becomes a full band jam, with separate keyboard/piano solo midsection. Still minimal interaction with the crowd by Romero (but that might be down to editing, given the time constraints across two CDs). Following minimalist "Child Of Time", apart from recreated Gillian screams, Disc #2 begins with a chance for Ritchie to go off, "Stargazer". The two Ronnies only sounding more similar on "Catch The Rainbow", which is just a song away. Another Dio gem, "Long Live Rock N Roll" is begun by crowd singing the chorus and once the band joins in, is ultimately augmented with a bit of Purple's "Lazy". Always loved "Temple Of The King" and its inclusion here, even cut short and with unnecessary female accompaniment (alongside aforementioned "Catch The Rainbow") makes it the highlights of the second disc, if not the whole set. "Black Night" breaks into a drum solo. As for the new song, feels sort of like a mid-tempo rocking Blackmore Night's selection (could it be that tambourine?).
At times, this comes across like a Broadway rendition of Blackmore's greatest hits. For completists only. Anyone looking to start their investigation of Blackmore and/or Rainbow is advised to look elsewhere (their '77 On Stage album, instead?). Hardly essential, but these tunes remain some of the best ever written.