Review Summary: It's as bad as the cover art.
Since the 80’s had commenced, the quality of Rainbow’s material had become questionable. The band enjoyed a streak of excellent albums in its earlier years with Ronnie James Dio, and successfully continued in a more commercial direction for a short while, before falling into demise, starting with their fifth album Difficult to Cure
. For the remainder of the 80’s they sank into even more generic, cheesy hard rock with every follow-up release. Their last album of this decade, Bent Out of Shape
, is the absolute low point.
Before that album was all released, Blackmore replaced the drummer position by bringing in Chuck Burgi, but it hardly makes a difference in the sound the band had on Straight Between the Eyes
. His predecessor Bobby Rondinelli was hardly noticeable, and Burgi is not much of an improvement. Ever since Down to Earth
, Rainbow had been all guitar and vocals, leaving the rhythm section in the dust. The only interesting feature about Bent Out of Shape
may be that it is the first album since Long Live Rock ‘n’ Roll
that let the keyboardist flex his chops, because Rosenthal has quite a presence on most tracks. Undoubtedly, Blackmore decided to do this to add a sense of drama to the album. In the end, it only works the other way around, with cheesy, symphonic keyboard parts spread all over the place creating an annoyance.
And it really is a shame for Turner, because the man is really trying hard in the vocal department, far more so than on the band’s previous release, but with the awful lyrics he writes, it seems like a wasted effort. None of the songs on Bent Out of Shape
can be held in the same regard as the I Surrender
s, Death Alley Driver
s and Stone Cold
s of the Turner-led 80’s, and there is a general lack of hooks, both vocally and instrumentally. Cheese and unoriginality had taken over Rainbow, and it was as their fifth album predicted: the 80’s cheese disease was indeed difficult to cure. For the decade, the band had indeed been bent completely bent out of shape (pardon the awful puns).
There are two forgiving track that save the record from a full-on 1.0, and those are the actually rocking Drinking With the Devil
and Make Your Move
, displaying true classic hard rock with Blackmore’s aggressive leads and Turner’s frenzied performance. They arrive way too late, only appearing towards the end, but show that the guitarist had not completely abandoned his roots. At the same time, they also feels a bit out of place in the sea of cheesy dramatics that is the rest of Bent Out of Shape
. You could argue that Street of Dreams
, also only appearing towards the end, wraps the album’s general formula in an attractive package, but the song is far from excellent.
Even more so than their previous albums in the 80’s, Bent Out of Shape
is severely lacking what is the basic ingredient of any record: great songs. All that needs to be said about Rainbow’s second has already been said: it plainly sucks, with the exception of a few notable tracks. After Bent Out of Shape
, Blackmore would dissolve the band, in order to reunite with Deep Purple
, which yielded initial success but also quickly fell into demise. In the 90’s, the guitarist would grab together a completely new Rainbow for one final stand.
Bent Out of Shape’s Rainbow was:
- Richard Hugh Blackmore ~ Lead Guitar
- Joseph Arthur Mark ‘Joe Lynn Turner’ Linquito ~ Vocals
- Roger David Glover ~ Bass Guitar
- Chuck Burgi ~ Drums
- David Rosenthal ~ Keyboards
Drinking With the Devil