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Rainbow - 'Down To Earth' http://rocktopia.co.uk/media/reviews/photos/thumbnail/200x200s/d4/7c/0b/1026_rainbowdowntoearth_1298574450.jpg Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     February 24, 2011    
 
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No matter how much I love the album, there's nothing here that makes me want to trade in my simple single disk version of it for this.

'Down To Earth' is a big album in the history of the mighty Rainbow. It was the first one without legendary and much loved vocalist Ronnie James Dio at the helm, with vocals being handled by Graham Bonnet. While his vocal work on this album takes some beating, there wasn't an overwhelming wave of support for Bonnet, who, clad in Hawaiian shirts, along with shades and his short hair more akin to being a James Dean wannabe than a rock god, upset some of the hairier, leather clad fans. However, what we must bear in mind is that Rainbow's driving force, Ritchie Blackmore, decided that without Dio, he'd pursue a more commercial sound and introduce shorter songs and a bluesier element, in place of the sweeping epic castles and dragons imagery of the past. And taking that brief into account, 'Down To Earth' was spot on.

This album gave Rainbow hit singles which was not something normally associated with the Dio era. Two of Rainbow's biggest songs are on here - such as album opener, and one of the all time great rock tracks, 'All Night Long'. What a song for Bonnet to introduce himself with. It's a superb song anyway, and Bonnet's vocal here has never been matched, despite me hearing some serious quality singers like Joe Lynn Turner and Tony Martin trying their hand at it.

I generally prefer albums to fade in, build up, like Rainbow 'Rising' or Whitesnake's 'Slip Of The Tongue', in which case the second track 'Eyes Of The World' would have been a much better opener, but the punch of 'All Night Long' certainly starts proceedings well. 'No Time To Lose' is one of my favourites (in an album of favourites if I'm brutally honest!) with a breakneck pace and a terrific vocal again from Bonnet. 'Makin' Love' and 'Love's No Friend' are both brilliant, and Rainbow's sizeable hit 'Since You've Been Gone' sits happily between them - penned by Russ Ballard, it's the only song on the album not written by Blackmore and Roger Glover (although keyboard player Don Airey claims he had a big hand in 'Eyes Of The World' and Cozy Powell grabs a co-write credit at the end of the record). 'Danger Zone' is another superb rocker with Bonnet again hugely impressive, before the Powell driven 'Lost In Hollywood' thunders the album to a triumphant climax. What more do you want?

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Now that the album has come out as a "deluxe" package, a second disk has been added. I was under the impression the sessions with Bonnet had little left over, so how were they going to fill a second disk? Legend has it that Bonnet auditioned with 'Mistreated' and his version of it got him the job on the spot. Rainbow never played it live with him, so I thought maybe that would be on the second disk. But alas, it's not.

What is, is a feeble collection of dubious "alternate" versions of stuff already there. For example, instrumental versions of 'All Night Long', 'Makin' Love', 'Eyes Of The World' etc. Do you want versions of these songs without Graham's vocals? No, me neither. Then we have some tracks which I didn't know - 'Spark Don't Mean A Thing' and 'Ain't A Lot Of Love In The Heart'. Curb your excitement, because they turn out to be lame versions of 'No Time To Lose' and 'Makin' Love' with alternate/unfinished lyrics and Graham doing the bare minimum to lay down what I assume would be a guide vocal line.
Include two "takes" of 'Lost In Hollywood' which collectively weigh in at less than the finished song, and there is nothing here of worth. How about the Cozy Powell mix of 'All Night Long' - which simply sees the drums whacked right up in the mix and the vocals right down, with a bit of ambience thrown in. Yeah, awesome.

So, disk one gives you the fantastic album, plus two "bonus" cuts - the singles' B-sides which are 'Bad Girl' and 'Weiss Heim'... which I've had for years on 'Finyl Vinyl'. Disk two gives you a bunch of crap which I can't imagine even the most ardent fan listening to more than once. Up to you, but no matter how much I love the album, and I easily rate it as one of the very best albums I've heard by any great rock band, there's nothing here that makes me want to trade in my simple single disk version of it for this.

James Gaden

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