“The Very Best of Rainbow” by Rainbow

Artist: Rainbow
Title: “The Very Best of Rainbow”
Label: Polydor Records
Release Date: 7/15/1997
Genre: Hard Rock
Rating: 4.5/5

After moving on from Deep Purple, guitarist Ritchie Blackmore would form the band Rainbow and really deliver some amazing music to all of the fans that might have wondered just how good his new enterprise would be. It’s been said that the bands name was derived from the Rainbow Bar and Grill in Hollywood and that makes sense since the joint is known for being host to many a Rock star. The sound of Rainbow was epic at times and commercially successful at others and during the band’s existence would feature a number of different musicians and no less than four lead vocalists. This compilation gives you a great sample of some of the bands glory but in some sense this leaves you with only a healthy taste that will find you hungry for more. With three unique vocalists being presented on the collection (Dio, Bonnet and Turner), I decided to break up my thoughts on each of their contributions to the band.

Ronnie James Dio: Blackmore had actually met the singer when his band Elf had opened for Deep Purple and this little bit of networking began a great writing partnership that gave us quite possibly the most majestic and powerful Rainbow tunes of them all. From the Dio era of the band we get seven tunes and honestly, as a fan of his voice, this is hardly enough. They would have served the listener better by giving Dio a CD of his own in the collection and let the other singers share the wealth on the second CD. Despite my reservation about this we do get “Man On The Silver Mountain” and “Starstruck” along with “Long Live Rock & Roll” – all classics and legendary numbers in the catalogue and tunes that firmed the belief in many a Metal head that Dio was one of the best singers that the genre had on its side. Dio recorded three albums with Rainbow and released a couple of live recordings. Even though these releases resonated with power and are favorites in the larger Metal and Hard Rock scene, the band only achieved minor success with the tune “Man On The Silver Mountain”. Ronnie would leave the band to join Black Sabbath when Ozzy was no longer involved and he would make more history over there. Now joining the band on vocals was Graham Bonnet.

Graham Bonnet: Call me as many names as you will about this opinion of mine but I have NEVER, ever liked Graham Bonnet’s voice. For me it was a little too hoarse and raspy while I mostly enjoyed a more melodic and powerful register like we found Dio doing on the bands earlier releases. Of course there are those who loved what Graham did and one such person was Blackmore himself. Bonnet was only on the “Down To Earth” album and it would give the band its biggest hit for that time with “Since You’ve Been Gone”. It’s a great track I admit but I leaned more to the other tune of note from Bonnet’s tenure which was “All Night Long”. The studio version is a little slower than it comes off live so I guess while loving the track I would have preferred them to include a live version. Oh well. Bonnet would move on and be replaced by Joe Lynn Turner.

Joe Lynn Turner: Now in 1981, the radio stations of the day were more inclined to play Hard Rock and Melodic Rock music so in this I feel was one of the reasons that Rainbow moved a little more mainstream and got all the more popular as result. The Joe Lynn Turner tenure was a good one for fans of this kind of Hard Rock as the songs were catchy and memorable. Of the seven songs that Turner did on this compilation I have to say that no less than four of them are still favorite tunes to this day. Our adventure with Joe’s contributions begins with “I Surrender” which was a good one but for me not as powerful as “Stone Cold” or “Can’t Let You Go”. If you are old enough to remember the tune during its heyday, you might recall fondly how “Street Of Dreams” was played many times a day and also how it was a far cry from the Dio vocalized “Kill The King”. Turner would leave the band in 1984 and the band would disband as well for many years.

Even though Rainbow reunited, or perhaps it’s better said as “reformed” with all new members in 1993, it would only have a few more years in it, and sadly this collection does not feature their final singer Doogie White. In the end, Rainbow offered you a lot as a band and many of their tunes are now time honored classics that no one will argue with you for stating. The booklet enclosed is a fold out one and does feature the track listing but no lyrics to the songs. That’s OK since most of these numbers are imprinted into the genetic code of the Hard Rock fans and they need no reminder about their lyrical makeup. We do get a fantastic family tree of the band that traces itself way back to its Deep Purple beginnings and shows you just how the other members made their connection to it. I love stuff like this, and its entertaining as well as educational reading. A few choice photos of the various lineups and black and white images of their albums close up the way the booklet displays. For its time of release this was a great compilation, but one that also finds the buyer demanding a more comprehensive anthology be issued.

Track Listing:
1. Man On The Silver Mountain
2. Catch The Rainbow
3. Starstruck
4. Stargazer
5. Kill The King
6. Long Live Rock ‘n Roll
7. Gates Of Babylon
8. Since You’ve Been Gone
9. All Night Long
10. I Surrender
11. Can’t Happen Here
12. Jealous Lover
13. Stone Cold
14. Power
15. Can’t Let You Go
16. Street Of Dreams

Official Website: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ritchie_Blackmore%27s_Rainbow

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