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'All Our Yesterdays'
Out Now

Ian Sutherland
ian sutherland

Blackmores night

Legendary rock guitarist Ritchie Blackmore formed Blackmore's Night in 1997 with American singer/songwriter Candice Night after disbanding the final line up of his band, Rainbow.

Seemingly tired of living up to his alter ego as a moody, mean rock guitar slinger he retreated into the gentler world of medieval folk and classical music which has always been a huge influence on his playing.

Greeted with hoots of derision from much of the rock press and his fan base he has persevered with this light, folky style of music for nearly twenty years now and has, despite the naysayers been very successful. He along with Night, who is now his wife, and their merry troupe tour Europe regularly playing to packed houses.

Their fans often dress up in costume at the shows and while admittedly this is a far cry from the halcyon days of Deep Purple, Blackmore's Night have definitely created a thriving career for themselves. 'All Our Yesterdays' is their tenth studio effort so the albums must sell reasonably well too or record companies wouldn't keep releasing them.

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Looking at their back catalogue to date Ritchie and Candice have come up with some original tunes, many of which are popular with the faithful as well as covering some traditional songs and on occasion have given the medieval treatment to some Purple and Rainbow tunes.

The amount of electric guitar present rather than acoustic work seems to come and go. While the man in black never rocks it up like he did at his peak there is plenty of evidence that he has lost none of his skills on that white Strat over the years and the potential is still there.

At the ripe old age of seventy he has recently declared that he is going to play a few shows with a rock band behind him in 2016 and have one last full volume blast before giving up the rock completely. That could make this latest release from what is now his day job somewhat interesting, especially for anyone who has ignored this band's output to date.

What you actually get in the twelve tracks here is a pretty good guide to what Blackmore's Night have always been about. The vibe is wholeheartedly cheery and upbeat, there is little here that genuinely harks back to the moody, dark tinged rock classics of the past.

'Earth, Wind And Sky' is a mellow ballad but more wistful than suggesting of any stormbringer coming. More typical are the jolly, come everyone let's dance a jig stylings of the title track or 'Coming Home'.

That famous fiery yet soulful electric guitar tone does make a few appearances, mostly to add some colour and shade to what's happening on jaunty instrumental 'Allan Yn N Fan' or the catchy folk rock of 'Where Do We Go From Here'.

The biggest set of clues to anyone who is wondering how much of that incendiary guitar magic the old maestro has left is contained in the atmospheric instrumental 'Darker Shade Of Black'. Here he puts together a fantastic solo full of his beautiful trademark fluid runs along the fretboard. It is absolutely the high point of the album for us lovers of Blackmore's playing and really worth a listen even if you dismiss his musical retreat to the 16th century.

Where these Blackmore's Night albums often go wrong for me is in the choice of covers they sometimes add. This time we get a fairly straightforward run through Mike Oldfield's 'Moonlight Shadow' but despite some pretty good vocals from Ms Night, their version of Sonny & Cher's 'I Got You Babe'(yes really!) is just awkward and out of place.

The singing here is very, very good indeed and the other musicians are all terrific but I make no apology for focussing on what the man the band is named after is about here, he is an icon and the rock world is watching again after his recent announcements.

Overall this is a very typical Blackmore's Night album, it definitely has some good songs on it and moments of guitar brilliance, but is such a different beast from his Purple/Rainbow days that it leaves those of us who loved that era feeling disappointed.

However I will say this about Ritchie taking this direction. I have seen Blackmore's Night live twice and he was happy, laughing and joking with the band and audience off mic and looking a million miles away from the mean, unpredictable, glowering genius axe man I saw many times with his big time rock bands.

The man is happy and it is churlish to want him to give that up just so we can have some tunes to savour. I will just wish him well and do what I can to get to one of next year's rock shows to say goodbye to Blackmore the rock god one last time before he rejoins his merry medieval troupe again.




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