Stranger in Us All



by Matthijs van der Lee USER (219 Reviews)
December 25th, 2009 | 13 replies | 9,341 views

Release Date: 1995 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Blackmore makes his final stand.

4 of 4 thought this review was well written

For those unfamiliar with it, let me summarize the story of Ritchie Blackmore. In the late 60’s, he formed Deep Purple, the band that would grow out to be one of the most famous hard rock acts of all time, with great thanks to the guitarist’s virtuoso skills. Ritchie was well know for being an selfish person, however, and initiated firing band members multiple times. By Purple’s third formation, more commonly known as Mark III, he had grown so frustrated with his band he decided to form a new hard rock outfit with Ronnie James Dio and his then-band Elf. The new group, entitled Rainbow, enjoyed a streak of quality albums with the tiny singer, until straying off into a commercial direction. At the beginning of the 80’s, Rainbow was going more and more downhill, eventually disbanding after the plainly bad Bent Out of Shape in ’83. A year later, Blackmore reunited with the disbanded Deep Purple, who had not been able to continue for long after his absence. That wouldn’t last, however, and after yet another rock abomination in ‘93’s The Battle Rages On, Blackmore quit the band he helped form for the final time. A few years later, he reassembled Rainbow for a new album. It would also be their last. Stranger In Us All was the final stand.

The line-up is completely new, reprising none of Rainbow’s earlier members. Wisely going for a fresh start, Blackmore got together vocalist Doogie White, bassist Greg Smith, drummer John O’Reilly and keyboardist Paul Morris. With them, he revisited his classic blues-inspired hard rock sound, mixing it with a dose of medieval/mystical 70’s Rainbow. It was about the best thing he could have done.

Because after some very poor work from the brilliant guitarist in the 80’s, now he knew what his strengths were. His strength was not being dramatic or cheesy: his strength was making honest hard rock with a traditional bluesy flare. Stranger In Us All does this, and does it well, never really trying to create something new when it shouldn’t. Thanks to White’s powerful an distinctive enough voice and Blackmore’s revitalized guitar work, the album succeeds. White is the best vocalist Rainbow has had since Dio, not overdoing his work like Turner, or being a bit too cocky like Bonnet, and is a huge relief, and for the first time since the 70’s, we can hear the rhythm section playing.

As said, Stranger’s strongest part are the traditional bluesy hard rock songs, once again empowered by Blackmore’s strong leads. The likes of Wolf to the Moon and Cold Hearted Woman can easily measure up to the guitarist’s earlier work, and remind us he can definitely still do it in 1995. To great surprise, there are even some successful Dio-era-inspired cuts with a mystical sense, such as Black Masquerade and Hall of the Mountain King. Stranger In Us All wraps together what was good about Deep Purple and what was good about early Rainbow.

Much more isn’t there to say. Stranger In Us All is as good as it would get, and after earlier continuously fading hope, Rainbow went out with a kind of bang at last. This was also Blackmore’s final hard rock endeavour. Shortly after, he would form Blackmore’s Night with his now-wife Candice Night, a neo-medieval/folk rock group. He’s still in it today, and it’s probably what he does best now. For both him and Rainbow, Stranger In Us All was a final hurrah.

Stranger In Us All’s Rainbow was:
- Richard Hugh Blackmore ~ Lead Guitar
- Doogie White ~ Vocals
- Greg Smith ~ Bass Guitar
- John O’Reilly ~ Drums
- Paul Morris ~ Keyboards

Essential listening:

Wolf to the Moon
Cold Hearted Woman
Black Masquerade

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user ratings (78)

Comments:Add a Comment 
December 25th 2009


Album Rating: 3.0

Listening to this was such a relief. Merry Christmas to y'all, this will most probably my last review of '09.

December 25th 2009


Thanks for the streak of Rainbow reviews, loved reading them.

December 25th 2009


Album Rating: 2.5

Ah, a post-Dio Rainbow album worth hearing, then?
Good review, and Merry Christmas

Digging: Overkill - White Devil Armory

December 25th 2009


Merry Christmas!

December 25th 2009


John C. Reilly is such a great drummer

Staff Reviewer
December 25th 2009


great review as always, although this reads more like a 4 rather than a 3.5

so since you're now finished with Rainbow, what's next?

December 26th 2009


Album Rating: 3.0

Thanks for the comments, and as for what's next: I'll start thinking about that in 2010. Happy newyear to everybody, probably won't be on sputnik 'till then.

May 25th 2012


Album Rating: 5.0

This is the last Rock album from The Men In Black, The Lost Guitar Hero... And the only one i had the joy of buying in the record store just when it was released, i was eleven years old and knew my Blackmore Catalogue quite well... I remember going home and listen to Wolf To The Moon and it blew me away, if Blackmore never puts a Rock album again this was the best way to say goodbye... although i'm still waiting for a new Rock Album from the master...

December 12th 2012


Album Rating: 4.0

This is a must for all Rainbow or Deep Purple fans. The writing is great, the playing is excellent as always and Doogie White is a really charismatic vocalist. Overall, Rainbow's best album since Long Live Rock'n'Roll.

Digging: Saviour Machine - Saviour Machine I

March 2nd 2013


This is not a must for all Rainbow or DP fans. They should hunt down the Rockpalast video from 1995 or 1996. The best songs from this album are found there and, as always with Blackmore, sound rawer and are played faster and more aggressive. You will also find a few songs from the JLT era and all are improved.

April 21st 2013


Album Rating: 4.5

Wolf to the moon, Ariel, Black Masquerade and Hall of the mountain king are all awesome

October 11th 2013


Album Rating: 4.0

One of the best rock albums of the 90s.

May 4th 2014


Album Rating: 4.5

Stranger In Asshole

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