Wednesday, 31 December 2003

Best of Rainbow - Album Review

Given the nature of this website, it may seem very odd to you that I have submitted a best of/greatest hits compilation for the Classic Albums thread. However, given that this is a band formed by the god Ritchie Blackmore, then this is a different case entirely.

When most best of compilations are released, fans of that particular group often find themselves wondering why certain songs were left off the compilation. With The Best Of Rainbow, this is not the case.

Released in 1981, the Best of Rainbow chartered the band's first six years, as well as their numerous band changes. Through three lead singers in Ronnie James Dio, Graham Bonnet and Joe Lynn Turner, as well as several drummers, bassists and keyboard players such as Roger Glover, Don Airey and Cozy Powell, Ritchie Blackmore's constant strive for musical perfection at the time met with a mixed reaction, but now, nearly thirty years after their debut album, and over twenty years after this release, stands up well with many of today's contemporary artists.

Beginning with the 1979 smash hit All Night Long, going through the classic Dio vocals of  Man On The Silver Mountain and the eight-minute masterpiece that is Stargazer, through to the 1981 smash I Surrender and ending on a high-note with the classic Starstruck, the Best of Rainbow was a perfect chronicle of their career. Each and every track was brilliant in it's conception, it's execution, and it's production. It seemed that it didn't matter who Blackmore wrote songs with, each one was a classic.

It's very rare that you find a compilation album where every track is truly deserving of being there. This is the case with The Best Of Rainbow. In fact, there were several tracks, such as "The Shed" from the 1978 "Long Live Rock 'N' Roll" album, that would have been perfect for this compilation.

Since Blackmore officially called time on his project in 1983 so he could re-form Deep Purple, several Rainbow anthology-type albums have been released which have included tracks from 1981's "Straight Between The Eyes" and 1983's "Bent Out Of Shape" albums. While songs such as "Stone Cold", "Can't Let You Go" and "Street Of Dreams" are great songs in their own right, in this writer's opinion if they were to be added to the original "Best Of" compilation they would simply detract from the classic cuts that were originally selected.

In such album reviews my colleague Damian Gray, at the end of his columns, lists the best tracks of the albums he has reviewed. I would do the same here, but I would just end up listing every track on this album.

So if you're looking for an example of classic rock song writing and classic guitar riffs, and want to hear some songs that inspired me to write some unseen science fiction stories, then get this album now.