One of the most Underappreciated hard rock outfits ever, Rainbow were, in their heyday, one of the most talented and interesting bands of the '70s. Though its impossible to not compare them with Deep Purple (due to their guitarist's credentials,) and though they share many similarities with the groundbreaking band, they are an entity of their own.
When guitar hero Ritchie Blackmore departed Deep Purple in 1974, he met a then unheard of singer by the name of Ronnie James Dio. The two would form Rainbow soon after, then consisting of the two men and bandmates from Dio's band Elf. Their debut, while fairly inconsistent, did sport some incredibly promising songs such as the anthem Man on the Silver Mountain
and the beautifully dreamy ballad Catch the Rainbow
. But immediately after the albums release, Dio and Blackmore fired their lineup, replacing it with a much more talented one.
Consisting of Dio on vocals, Blackmore on guitar, Jimmy Bain on bass, Tony Carey on keyboards, and Cozy Powell on drums, this lineup is certain to raise more than a few eyebrows. Jimmy Bain would appear on Dio's massively successful solo debut Holy Diver
, as well as many other of the singers albums. Tony Carey would go on to some moderate solo success, and Cozy Powell (previously of the Jeff Beck group) is hailed as one of the greatest hard rock drummers of all time, and would go on to record with numerous artists.
The album itself is by far Rainbow's best. Its balanced between direct rockers (Run With the Wolf, Starstruck, Do You Close Your Eyes
) and longer, more progressive tinged pieces (Tarot Woman, Stargazer, A Light in the Black
,) all of which fair well. Every member shines equally on here. Dio's trademark growls and wails (as well as sometimes cheesy, sometimes mystical lyrics) are present even at the start of the singer's career. Blackmore's classic stratocaster tones tare through massive solos and riffs. Bain is always audible, and plays some pretty catchy basslines. Carey draws upon a bevy of synth's to provide a partner to Blackmore, and Powell's drumming is nothing short of fantastic.
A good one and a half minutes of spacey synthesizer introducing the listener to the album, before Blackmores strident riffs rip into Tarot Woman
. Dio's vocals are his usual powerful best, and his catchy chorus of " Beware of a place/A smile on her bright shining face/I'll never return, how do you know/Tarot woman/I don't know, I don't know" sets the tone for Rainbow's signature sound, and will be stuck in your head for weeks. Blackmore's solo is quite effective to boot.
gives way to the bluesy groove of Run With the Wolf
. With memorable guitar licks and bass lines, combined with rhythmic organ, steady drumming and a signature Dio chorus, the quality of the album can't be denied.
The same groove is carried over to Starstruck
, which openings with one of Blackmore's most catchy riffs. This is easily the most Deep Purple-ish of the tracks on here, with organ and vocals that could have come compliments of Jon Lord and Ian Gillan respectively.
With a massive riff, and hugely strong vocals Do You Close Your Eyes
is also the shortest and most direct of the songs on Rising. It rocks with a powerful groove. But its the next track, Stargazer
that really shows off Rainbow's potential. With a hugely technical and hectic drum intro, tasteful synth arrangements, Dio's huge vocals, and a wonderful guitar solo this track clock in at a full eight and a half minutes, the longest on the album. Its easily one of the best tracks Rainbow has pulled off, an mini masterpiece in itself.
The albums finale, another eight minuter, A Light In the Black
is just as powerful as Stargazer
. Blackmore's unforgettable intro riff and Bain's great bass lines set the tone for Dio's vocals, and some truly amazing synth and guitar soloing. By the time the song has run its course, its certainly made more than a minor impression.
Rising is a startling brief record, however, clocking in at about thirty three minutes in length, but this is an easily forgivable flaw. While Tarot Woman, Stargazer,
and A Light in the Black
are easily my favorites on here, all the songs are great. Unfortunately, Rainbow's next record, while certainly a stellar offering in its own right, was not as good as this would be. Even when Dio departed the band to do a stint fronting Black Sabbath, Blackmore would take the group down a surprisingly poppy road, before the guitarist returned to Deep Purple. But all that was in the future, at the time it was released, Rising was an unconditional triumph.