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'Boston 1981' (CD, coloured vinyl LP)
Out Now

Joe Geesin

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Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow produced a fine string of albums in the late 70s and early 80s, moving in a more commercial direction with a constantly revolving line-up and again one in the mid 90s, and there have been a number of strong (and not so strong) retrospective live releases along the way. And since the band split and Ritchie left a reformed Deep Purple in 1993, he has recorded a number of medieval folk albums with Blackmore's Night alongside vocalist and partner Candice Night.

Ritchie Blackmore, guitar legend and former Deep Purple guitarist and founder member, recently announced his return to rock music with some Rainbow live shows, albeit with no other previous Rainbow members, and this album serves as a timely reminder of just how good the material is, on record and on stage.

After forming Deep Purple and a number of scene defining songs - 'Smoke On The Water', 'Child In Time', 'Fireball', 'Burn' to name but a few - and albums that top any classic rock list, Ritchie formed Rainbow in 1975 as an outlet to cover a Quatermass song that Purple objected too.

Initially using American rock band Elf, Blackmore formed a strong relationship with vocalist Ronnie Dio and the band's first three albums were classic hard rock that saw established heavy rockers such as Jimmy Bain, Cozy Powell and Bob Daisley pass through the ranks.

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With vocalist Graham Bonnet, bassist Roger Glover and pianist Don Airey, 1979s 'Down To Earth' would be a much more commercial affair; less castles and rainbows, more hit singles. The commercial direction was on the wall, the conquest of American radio on the cards and 1981s 'Difficult To Cure' saw drummer Bobby Rondinelli and vocalist Joe Lynn Turner join the fold and it was that album that spawned this live show. Originally a radio broadcast, it's a decent recording (editing aside).

'Difficult To Cure''s 'Spotlight Kid' opens the show, as it would do for a couple of years, and it's a bright energetic rocker with a very distinctive guitar solo. This album and tour would be JLT's big break and he certainly made the most of it, clearly on form here and not only relishing the moment but putting his stamp on Rainbow. Replacing Graham Bonnet with JLT was, in terms of voice, performance and song writing, a deliberate move in the commercial rock direction.

'Love's No Friend', from 'Down To Earth', is far from an obvious choice, but it is good to see the band vary the set-list. The song does build into a crescendo with some furious drumming, a bit of a jam with some excellent guitar work extending it to over seven minutes although some of that is Turner's inability to finish a song without a bit of a vocal workout. 'Spotlight Kid' indeed.

Some neat keyboard noodling from Airey before the hit single 'I Surrender' comes in. The slight distortion of the bass aside, it's again a very decent recording with JLT adding plenty of power and range. 'Man On The Silver Mountain' is another cracker, this one from Rainbow's debut and here the original arrangement is kept (it was extended considerably by earlier line-ups) and there's some excellent guitar and keyboard interplay.

Also from the debut is 'Catch The Rainbow' and this one is extended to a little under 15 minutes. Much as JLT's vocals are excellent, I'm not sure about his extended workout at the end. The song is much more Dio suited, but in terms of musicianship it shows just how well Airey and Glover fit in with Blackmore in the live setting. Again, such an arrangement showcases Ritchie's guitar well.

The second single from 'Difficult To Cure', 'Can't Happen Here', is included here and both live and studio it's a superior offering to 'I Surrender'; power, melody, a decent message and the performance rocks too.

Another 'Down To Earth' offering is 'Lost In Hollywood', this one a real rocker and a bit of a thrash. The bass and keyboards make this song, while Blackmore's guitar is the ever present firebrand. And the song closes with Airey blasting a few bars of 'A Light In The Black' (by far, head and shoulders, Rainbow's musical Zenith, no question, and a shame it wasn't played more).

This leads into 'Difficult To Cure''s title track, a take on Beethoven's Ninth (the first thing Airey jammed with Ritchie when he joined a couple of years' previous). As a lover of classical music's influence on Heavy Metal, I've always loved 'Difficult To Cure' and this is one performance I will be returning to.

'Long Live Rock N' Roll' is a great track and this one is very different to the original as the band had changed so much, both in personnel and direction, so if you're an early Rainbow fan only it may take a bit of getting used to.

To close the show, Ritchie teases the crowd with a few bars of 'Lazy' and 'Woman From Tokyo' before launching into 'Smoke On The Water'. Classic rock indeed.

Lovely show, great performance and totally solid. I'll leave the change of direction up for debate but as a snapshot of the band live in 1981 this is more than worth checking out. It's a lot less grandiose than earlier years, but equally it's (certainly for the American market) more accessible too.

Rainbow split two years later when Deep Purple reformed, with one more studio album and line-up ('Stranger In Us All' with Doogie White on vocals) in the mid 90s. JLT has been a star and vocalist for hire in his own right, while Glover and Airey are both rocking with aplomb together back in Purple. And there's a lot more similar in the archive, I hope they get similar treatment.

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Wacken Winter Nights 2018 takes place between February 23rd and 25th 2018 and the great news is that you can now experience a full-on, top class German Metal Festival easily and affordably.

It only takes an hour to fly to Hamburg from London and we've had longer journeys than that within the capital and they were certainly more expensive than the £33 air ticket that just appeared in our 'flights to Wacken Winter Nights' search.


Wacken Winter Nights is organised by the same team who are responsible for the world's greatest Metal festival, Wacken-Open-Air and the 2018 bill includes Skyclad, Orphaned Land, Elvenking, Finntroll, Grave Digger, Aeverium, Comes Vagantes, Coppelius, Corvus Corax, Die Pressgëng, Elvellon, Heimataerde, Hell-O-Matic, Ignis Fatuu, Ingrimm, Irdorath, Johnny Deathshadow, Krayenzeit, Letzte Instanz, Mr Hurley und die Pulveraffen, Pampatut, Pat Razket, Schandmaul, Sündenrausch, The Aberlour's, The Moon And The Nightspirit, Torfrock, Visions Of Atlantis, Vroudenspil, Wind Rose and more.

Besides this rich billing of superb Metal bands, there is so much more to see in the festival area including the medieval market and also the walking acts and jugglers you will meet at the theme worlds, including Robert Blake, three-time World Cup winner of street magic.

Wacken Winter Nights is something not to be missed and you can check out the amazing ticket and accommodation prices right here.

We just priced up the whole four day trip with hotels, flights, shuttles and festival tickets for less than £300 and we don't think you will get a better value festival than that, anywhere.


MetalTalk recently sat down with Wacken founder and owner Thomas Jensen and that interview will be online next week and it's a fascinating insight into how Wacken originated from nothing to become the world's premiere Heavy Metal event.


Wacken 2018 takes place from 2nd to 4th August 20218 and as with Wacken Winter Nights, if you have never experienced all it has to offer, then you owe it to yourself to remedy that.

Already announced for Wacken 2018 are Judas Priest, Nightwish, Running Wild (exclusive), Arch Enemy, Dirkschneider, Doro (Special Anniversary Show), In Extremo, Sepultura, Amorphis, Amaranthe, Firewind, W.A.R., Belphegor, Mantar, Knorkator, Deserted Fear, Watain, Night Demon, Epica, Knorkator, Belphegor, Firewind, Deserted Fear and many more and we'll have more Wacken 2018 announcements during December.

As well as being the greatest Heavy Metal festival in the world, it is without a doubt the Mecca of Metal and the one thing that every single person who loves our music should have on their bucket list.

For 2018, MetalTalk have joined forces with Wacken-Open-Air to help you get to Wacken easily and inexpensively and you can peruse the ticket and travel options right here.

If you are interested in going to Wacken 2018 and have questions, please fill out the form below and we will contact you with answers to all your enquiries. You are under no obligation whatsoever by filling this form out. We won't add you to any mailing lists or send you loads of spam - all we will do is help you get to Wacken as easily and inexpensively as possible.



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