Blackmore's Night - To The Moon And Back,
In 1981, I finally managed to see one of my heroes in concert, namely the one and only Ritchie Blackmore with Rainbow. The band were amazing, and he was incredible, and I went away very happy indeed. By then myself and virtually all Deep Purple fans had resigned ourselves to the fact that they would never reform, so I was first in line when Mark II announced a tour in support of ‘Perfect Strangers’ and saw them at Wembley Arena supported by Bad Company. Something must have gone awry during the gig, or immediately afterwards, as when the band returned to encore with “Smoke On The Water” it was without the guitarist. From there we all knew it wouldn’t be too long before he would move on to pastures new, but I don’t think anyone really expected that he would come back with a band based around renaissance music. Although of course he did record “Sixteenth Century Greensleeves” on the very first Rainbow release.
Twenty years after he formed Blackmore’s Night with his wife Candice Night as singer, the band have released a double CD compilation which also features some new recordings. What makes this album work so well is the sheer diversity of the music on offer, so although we do get some songs that sound as if they come straight out of the musical coffers of 500 years ago, there are others that are bang up to date. Some are folk, some are folk-influenced rock, and to be honest a couple are straightforward rock! There are times when the music is acoustic and going on quite well, and then that white Stratocaster makes an appearance with a blistering solo and the song is completely transformed into a something very special indeed. But, not only does Ritchie let others take centre stage (especially with the violin as a lead), it must be remembered that his wife’s name is in the band name as well, and for very good reason. It is widely accepted that Linda McCartney couldn’t sing a note, and that she was in Wings because she was Paul’s wife, but Candice is an incredibly fine singer who has great depth, power and control. She has a warmth to her voice, and an undoubted love of this style of music which shines through. For the Rainbow diehards, they may be interested in the cover of “I Surrender” (which I remember Joe Lynn Turner belting out at that gig so many years ago), but to be honest this collection shows just how much Ritchie has changed since then. Well worth investigating.