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'The Single Box Set 1975-1986'
(Universal Music)

Gary 'Rockulus' Clarke

Rockulus Maximus


I cannot comment on the packaging unfortunately, but if you're here to read about the music and what is collated on the 19 discs contained within this box set, then I can tell you about that.

Do I need to remind you of this classic rock entity we know as Rainbow and let you know that the mighty Ronnie James Dio fronted them at one point, and how the highly regarded guitar legend Ritchie Blackmore was the central figure behind the juggernaut?

Probably not, considering that the first track to soak my listening experience is 'Man On The Silver Mountain [7" Edit]' which brings to light why the band was placed firmly on a pedestal during their humble beginnings. The 7" edit is included due to this being their singles collection.

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'Snake Charmer' finishes off this first single release showcased on this collection. Both this and the edited version of 'Man On The Silver Mountain' are from the band's debut 1975 studio album 'Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow'. Also linked to this family is the second disc which contains a cover version of the Yardbirds 'Still I'm Sad' (an instrumental) along with the well known 'Temple Of The King'.

Alas, I'm too young to have been appreciative of this attempt at elevating the universe of Rock when they were first unveiled, but sitting here and taking part in this journey of time travel is something to behold. The latter track is a melodic number that allows for swaying and shows off Blackmore's talents clearly.

The third disc is interesting. Taking the concept of a chronological order with the single releases, we are then invited to listen to 'Man On The Silver Mountain' again with the slight difference being how they share the album version. 'Snake Charmer' is yet again included as the other track. Luckily as I begin to ponder over how much this would have a wider appeal, I find out they also include 'If You Don't Like Rock 'n' Roll' and 'Sixteenth Century Greensleeves'.

Mind you, if you've purchased the debut studio album then by this point you're getting very little for your money content-wise, as the only treat is getting a slightly edited version of the BIG single 'Man On The Silver Mountain'!

'Starstruck' and 'Run With The Wolf' make up the fourth disc as we enter the second studio album 'Rising' from 1976. Following these studio recordings, disc number five offers up three live tracks. 'Kill The King' flows with constant crowd background noise directly into 'Man On The Silver Mountain' to reveal a band sounding really good, full of vitality and enthusiasm. The audience fades out and our ears are greeted by the stomp of Rainbow performing 'Mistreated' live.

I'm used to hearing Mr David Coverdale wrap his distinctive tones around this song for Deep Purple, so it's a refreshing and solid performance by Dio as Rainbow get cheeky playing this Deep Purple classic.

The song-writing partnership of Blackmore and Dio continues as we enter the realm of their third studio album 'Long Live Rock 'n' Roll'. My favourite Rainbow song is the title track, and it's one of those songs that never get tiresome. Wiggling and gyrating in a disgraceful display (don't tell my Mum, she thinks I'm a clean-living innocent!), I then get a shot of 'Sensitive To Light'.

Pushing forward to the front of the queue with its groove, 'L.A. Connection [7" Edit]' shaving off nearly a minute and a half off the album version swaggers forth. 'Lady Of The Lake' is the other part of this seventh CD and signals the end of the Ronnie James Dio-fronted era of the band.

Two tracks that identify the eighth disc within this epic collection are 'Since You've Been Gone' and 'Bad Girl' featuring Graham Bonnet on lead vocals. The song-writing dynamics are different too as Roger Glover co-writes with Blackmore for the material on 'Down To Earth', released in 1979. It is at this point that you feel the content is proving to be special as it includes a track that didn't appear on an album, not until they reissued them with bonus tracks at any rate!

'Bad Girl' is a good song with the usual Rainbow flair. In those days it wasn't unusual if the record company thought there was more potential in sales from a certain single to re-release it. Therefore, 'Since You've Been Gone' gets repeated amongst the tracks with the addition of 'No Time To Lose' on this next disc.

Who would have thought a 19 disc collection could be so elaborate? I can only imagine how wonderful the packaging would be as they replicate the artwork for these singles. This brings me to the 10th CD single which contains 'All Night Long' backed by 'Weiss Heim'.

The latter of these two songs initially only appeared on this single, and as mentioned above you can now find it on the reissued deluxe versions of these original albums. This instrumental composition was apparently recorded in Copenhagen, Denmark in 1980, sometime after the main recording sessions for the 'Down To Earth' album.

Russ Ballard, song-writer-supreme steps up to pen a song that rattled the Rock music fraternity at the time in the form of 'I Surrender', after he wrote 'Since You've Been Gone' the previous year. Overshadowing the B-side which was an instrumental that also appeared on their 1981 studio album 'Difficult To Cure', 'Vielleicht Das Nächste Mal (Maybe Next Time)' rounds off the 11th CD single.

Sticking with the music from the 1981 album, CD number 12 offers up three tracks. The guilty parties are 'Can't Happen Here [7" Edit]' alongside 'Jealous Lover' and the instrumental title track; reveal some top-notch musicianship in conjunction with their commercial appeal.

Joe Lynn Turner handles this era of the band with fine aplomb as he's also represented with the single 'Magic' backed by 'Freedom Fighter'. The notable re-release of 'Can't Happen Here' and 'Jealous Lover' is included here on the 14th disc.

With Turner still at the helm alongside Blackmore, Glover and the prominent David Rosenthal tackling all manner of keys and string arrangements, we reach the 1982 album 'Straight Between The Eyes'. First single 'Stone Cold' backed with 'Rock Fever' (not 'arf!) do the business and I suspect have grown in appreciation over time.

On CD single 16; 'Death Alley Driver' paired with 'Tite Squeeze'. To my ears, these latter two are still fairly disappointing when directly compared to what the band achieved previously.

The next disc contains three tracks as we begin the exploration of the 'Bent Out Of Shape' album. 'Street Of Dreams' and 'Can't Let You Go' were the two prominent singles from this album, and you'll find on the former of these singles two added tracks that arrive in the form of instrumental 'Anybody There' and the live version of 'Power' recorded at the Convention Center in San Antonio.

The original studio recording of 'Power' can be found on the previous album 'Straight Between The Eyes'. With the next single, you get the 7" edit of 'Can't Let You Go' and live renditions of 'All Night Long' and 'Stranded' record at the David's Hall in Cardiff.

Part of the title of this box set shares with the customer the timeline of this singles collection. So reaching 1986 there is one more release that is included which is 'Bad Girl'. The 19th disc contains once again a couple of live tracks. You get 'Spotlight Kid' and naturally the staple 'Man On The Silver Mountain'.

On the former of these, Joe Lynn Turner produces another consistent vocal performance in front of an audience in Tokyo of their 'Difficult To Cure' track. Regarding the latter live song which is originally associated with the Dio and occasional Black Sabbath front-man, surprisingly or not this live version isn't with Turner. Dio and the band are given the chance to showcase their energy and magic once more with this epic live version.

Without the benefit of witnessing the packaging in all of its glory, I cannot tell you whole-heartedly how cool this box set is. Going by the content alone, there are some cool tracks, but you'll have them all thanks to the albums and their bonus tracks. Another issue I find with singles collections is how they naturally focus on one side of a band.

The creative forces behind a band also encompass what album-related material is presented in order to get a fuller picture of their personality and quality. So this box set is slightly floored in respect of such a principle. On the other side of the coin, this box set will serve as something truly special to the completist; the true fan of Rainbow who longs for those glory days once more and has perhaps purchased most, if not all of these singles on original vinyl back in the day.

Vinyl can warp under duress, and sometimes you want to hear something without the added snap, crackle and pop under the stylus.

For the musical legacy....

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For this box set...

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