After Deep Purple disbanded in 1974, their guitarist Ritchie Blackmore founded Rainbow with members of a band called Elf. Elf's lead vocalist was none other than Ronnie James Dio. Rainbow's first album, Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow was released in 1975.
Now I enter the picture. I like Dio a lot so I had heard of his work with Ritchie Blackmore. In addition, my friend had some sort of "Metal Bible" kind of book and it hailed this album as an album "you must own". In conclusion, when I saw it at my local used CD store for 5$, I didn't think twice about picking it up.
The album kicks off with Man on the Silver Mountain. The opening/main riff is quite heavy and straight forward. The question it asks you as you hear it is "ARE YOU READY TO ROCK"". As the drums and bass come in, the song really seems to gradually accumulate power and then Dio starts singing with his usual powerful voice. The chorus is excellent as Dio sings "I'm the man on the Silver Mountain". The song flows nicely together, it isn't too long and it feels very epic. After hearing this song, I said to myself, "This is definitly 5/5 material". Yet, the rest of the album didn't seem to click with me. The next track, Self Portatrait was pretty smooth and cathcy but it seemed to lack the energy and power that the opener had. I enjoyed its melody and slower feel but it didn't display more of that 5/5 classic feel. Next comes Black sheep of the Family which I found purely silly. The lyrics are about some dude who is, as you might have guessed, the black sheep of the family. It seems almost like a joke track with no seriousness involved in the writing prossess. To make things a bit clearer, let's just say it sounds like something Jack Black could have recorded to put on the School of Rock soundtrack. In other words, its not Dio/Blackmore material. I seriously thought the album was headed downhill. Yet, the next track was very soothing. It is called Catch the Rainbow. It is a ballad, but its no ordinary classic rock ballad. It sounds like something that could have been writen by Pink Floyd. In this song, Dio shows us his softer melodic vocals. They are actually quite good and he displays his capability to be emotional and not just "rockin out".
After this song is actually where the album starts to not really get to me. Snake Charmer, track 5, just seems like typical hard rock but without the power. It just seems kinda dull. The next track, The Temple of the King is another ballad. Yet, this one is much more trite than the first one. By the lyrics, you can tell that they really tried to go epic with this one. I personally find it cheesy. Lyrics that start out like "One time in the year of the fox..." just don't do it for me. Next comes the second worst track of the album, right ahead of Black Sheep of the Family, entitled If you Don't Like Rock N' Roll. Already, the title told me that I wouldn't like this song because it would be about how rock n roll is great and will last forever and if you don;t like it you are just too old and "uncool". AND GUESS WHAT" I was just about right. Plus, the instrumentals are flat out boring. Theres a keyboard playing one chord over and over again relativly fast and one of those typical blues bass line things. It is a very cliched song. The last two songs, Sixteenth Century Greensleeves and I'm Still Sad are kinda similar with the guys trying to go all epic and emo tional but failing horribly (IMO). More hardrock with some generic little melodies here and there.
All in all, I didn't perticularly like this album. I really can't see why this is such a classic and why people on other sites and in magazines have rated this album so highly. That being said, it wasn't pure crap. There were two excelent songs (Man on the Silver Mountain and Catch the Rainbow) and the rest was decent just not outstanding (with the exeption of Black Sheep of the Family and If you Don't Like Rock N Roll which were actually pretty bad). Also, Dio's vocals are impressive as usual and Ritchie Blackmore does a few cool solos and a few nice sounding licks and what not. The rythme section was also very good, with audible bass playing some cool little bass lines in almost every song and rocking drums delivering the energy needed. I think overal it is mainly the style of Rainbow that I didn't like. Some of the riffs were too basic for my taste and some of Dio's lyrics were too fantasy like. I recommend this to people who like Deep Purple or any band similar to them. Also, if you like power metal and 1970's hard rock you might liek this as well, because you'll be able to stand the lyrics and you'll dig the riffs.
Bottom line: 3/5
Recommended tracks: Man on the Silver Mountain, Catch the Rainbow.