Review Summary: Joe FEELS THE POWWUUUURRRR, but we don't.
Even by going commercial, Ritchie Blackmore still showed that he could write great songs, even if the second album in Rainbow’s second era, Difficult to Cure
, was more miss than it was hit. Unfortunately, the decision to change musical direction also resulted in many of the most capable musicians in the band leaving. First vocalist Ronnie James Dio after Long Live Rock ‘n’ Roll
, then drummer Cozy Powell after Down to Earth
, and now, after their fifth album Difficult to Cure
, it was the turn for keyboardist Donald Airey. He was promptly replaced, by David Rosenthal, and as if a miracle had occurred, Blackmore did not fire a single member. With his slightly altered Rainbow, he recorded the band’s sixth album, Straight Between the Eyes
. Although once again moderately successful, most notably the ballad Stone Cold
, a hit, it alienated Rainbow’s initial fans from the band. Not particularly surprising, because by now, nobody really expected Blackmore to stray from his newfound direction. Once he went there, it became difficult for him and the band to go back.
Compared to Difficult to Cure
, Straight Between the Eyes
doesn’t do a lot better. In fact, it’s even worse off. By replacing capable musicians with lesser ones album by album since Long Live Rock ‘n’ Roll
(with the exception of Roger Glover), the quality of Rainbow’s albums had been slowly declining along with its musicians. Straight Between the Eyes
continues this decline.
By 1982, vocalist Joe Lynn Turner had given up his slightly dramatic delivery on Rainbow’s previous album, and changed to an ever more standard (read: boring) style. He sounds comfortable with it, but there’s so little appeal to his voice no one will find the will to really care for it (when he recorded Slaves and Masters
with Deep Purple
8 years later, it was also because of this that the album was so excruciatingly bad). The horrible choruses he wrote for tracks such as Power
and Rock Fever
(Lemma see ya rock!/Lemma see ya roll!/Lemma see ya burn!/Rock FEVEEEERR!) don’t really help either.
On past Rainbow releases, after the Dio-era, it were always Blackmore’s virtuoso skills (and not only skills, but also sheer appeal) that saved the day. He helped bringing Down to Earth
to an actually quite enjoyable level, and while more on Difficult to Cure
was miss than it was hit, nobody could really argue with Ritchie’s chops. On Straight Between the Eyes
, this doesn’t serve as an argument anymore. The guitarist is running out of (above average) riffs and solos, and hardly makes an impression. Exceptions are the fast-paced and catchy opener Death Alley Driver
, which at the same time contains one of Turner’s best moments on the album, as well as the ballad Stone Cold
. Those are merely the first two tracks, however, and afterwards it’s a steep road downhill for Straight Between the Eyes
Like many other examples, the cover art of Rainbow’s sixth signifies exactly the quality of said album. The record was another step down from, and it would not seem Rainbow was going to quickly recover. It’s generic, it’s far too cheesy, and it just doesn’t get enjoyable for the far greatest part of its 41 minutes and 9 songs. If Straight Between the Eyes
signified anything, it was that Blackmore might have been beginning to slightly lose it.
Straight Between the Eyes’ Rainbow was:
- Richard Hugh Blackmore ~ Lead Guitar
- Joseph Arthur Mark ‘Joe Lynn Turner’ Linquito ~ Vocals
- Roger David Glover ~ Bass Guitar
- Bobby Rondinelli ~ Drums
- David Rosenthal ~ Keyboards
Death Alley Driver