I wanted to review another Dio-era Rainbow album and it seems like this is the only one on the site yet to be done. On Stage is the first of two live albums Rainbow did in the 70's, the other being Live in Germany. It's hard to say which one is better, as Live in Germany does have more songs (including the epic Stargazer). This album just feels like it has more energy to me, though.
The biggest problem I have with the Rainbow live albums is that their set lists aren't really that great. For one, compared to most other bands' live shows it's very short. They only play 6 songs in total and even though this album was recorded during the tour for Rising, there's only one song from it on here. Hell, it's not even a full song, just less than a minute of the chorus thrown in a Man on the Silver Mountain medley.
Not to say this is a bad album at all, in fact, I find myself listening to it quite a bit. It starts off incredibly strong, with Kill the King
, a new song that would appear in studio form on their next album, Long Live Rock 'n' Roll. This is my favorite Rainbow song of all time and it's even better live. For those of you not familiar with it, Kill the King is a fast-paced rocker full of catchy riffs, sweep arpeggios, and epic lyrics. They couldn't have made a better song for opening their concerts.
They continue strong with Man on the Silver Mountain
, a song any Rainbow or Dio fan would be very familiar with. This song also kicks the album version's ass, as the tempo is sped up and we get quite a bit of improv from Blackmore (something he was well known for). This track also includes a medley of blues. They perform it well, but I would've rather they have played more Rainbow tracks instead. Then again, I'm not a huge fan of blues. After that comes a snipit of Starstruck and another round of Man on the Silver Mountain.
Catch the Rainbow
seems to be a fan favorite and I certainly can't say it's a bad song at all, but I feel it's way too long. The entire thing goes on for 15 minutes, more than double what the album version clocked in at. It was never one of my top Rainbow picks and I find I often skip this song when it comes up. Occasional listening shows however, that this is an incredibly beautiful ballad that continually gains strength and builds into a frenzy of electric guitar soloing.
Next is a cover of the Deep Purple song Mistreated
. I'll just say Dio totally blows away David Coverdale in singing this. Like the last song though, it's far too long. There's ton of improv in the middle of this song, which would be neat live, but on an album it tends to bog it down. My personal preference would also be a different Deep Purple song, possibly Burn or Sail Away if he's taking a track from Burn
The last 2 tracks on this album are the same as the last 2 tracks from the original Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow
album. Sixteenth Century Greensleeves
is a highlight of this album for me. It starts off softly, with Blackmore's version of the classical song Greensleeves (which is quite beautiful). This was one of the first albums I heard from Rainbow and when I heard the intro to this song I ended up skipping the whole thing, thinking that was what the entire track consisted of. Big mistake, this song really rocks once it gets in gear. It's not really a remix of Greensleeves in any way, but rather a song that has electric guitars playing medieval-inspired riffs and Dio singing of princesses, crossbows, drawbridges, and stuff like that.
Ending the album is a cover of the Yardbirds' song Still I'm Sad
. Unlike the version on Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow
, Dio actually sings on this. There's also LOTS of crazy improvised guitar soloing, keyboard interludes, and other showing off by members of the band. I couldn't think of a better way to end this album.
This album would've been so much better had they included more tracks. I would've loved to hear Tarot Woman and Temple of the King live. It also suffers from the lack of one of their most highly acclaimed songs, Stargazer. Had those 3 been added and some of the excess been cut off from Catch the Rainbow and Mistreated, I would've rated this album higher.