It is all MTV’s fault when you get down to it.
MTV began to air my sophomore year in high school. Back then it was really about music, not all those pseudo-reality shows. The local radio stations didn’t play Rainbow very much (Rainbow was more popular in Europe and Japan), so I saw them first there. It was All Night Long (sadly, I think it was the sleezy girl that kept me watching at first), and Can’t Happen Here. Soon I had just about everything Ritchie Blackmore played on (including Green Bullfrog with other great guitarists playing blues-rock). Soon I discovered that my older brother had most of the albums. No wonder the songs sounded vaguely familiar.
I didn’t go digital with most of my Blackmore collection. Didn’t matter, my CD collection was stolen in a break-in. After that I remember owning a best of collection. Somehow it was misplaced during our recent cross country trip. My new iPod needed some Rainbow, so I decided to go with Anthology with its focus on the the early years of the band.
The band began as Blackmore’s frustration with Deep Purple was reaching the breaking point. A band named Elf opened for them on the Stormbringer tour. Ritchie was impressed enough to use the band, fronted by Ronnie James Dio, for his solo album which morphed into a band . Over the years, the line up changed with every album but Blackmore was the reason the band existed.
Anthology kicks off with 16th Century Greensleeves. It builds off of the old song Greeensleeves. Blackmore’s love for classical music would often show itself in songs and solos. The song is representative of the Dio-years. His obsession with mythology and mysticism would outlast his years with Rainbow. It was not about occultism so much as the struggle between good and evil. Of course, apart from Christ the outcome is altogether uncertain. Together, Blackmore and Dio would lay the ground work for heavy metal. Blackmore would inspire a legion of guitarists, and Dio another legion of lyricists.
“Someone screaming my name, come and make me holy again.” Man on the Silver Mountain
The theme continues on The Temple of the King and Man on the Silver Mountain. Thankfully they did not use any of the live versions of the latter, with Dio screaming “we’re all the man”. But the latter is a classic Blackmore song that persisted in concert until the end. The last cut from Blackmore’s Rainbow is an old Yardbird’s song Still I’m Sad. It is done as an aggressive instrumental as Ritchie lets loose. This is a great song, and I really enjoyed the live versions.