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Rainbow - 'On Stage' / 'Long Live Rock 'N' Roll' (Deluxe Editions) Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     February 14, 2013    
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The Dio/Blackmore dynamic remains the stuff of legend - and well worth the upgrade price.

Before we get started I should perhaps explain that in some respects it’s hard for me to be dispassionately objective when it comes to Rainbow. Along with AC/DC and UFO they were instrumental in shaping my musical tastes in my early teens, seducing me away from the trend driven pap espoused by my peers and inducting me into a world where long hair and loud guitars ruled the roost. For that, and the countless hours of aural pleasure their back catalogue has given me over the years I am eternally grateful – Mr Blackmore, you rock!

So now I’ve gotten that little confession out of the way, let’s get down to business. Having previously received a favourable response to their deluxe, 2CD versions of both ‘Rising’ (perhaps the greatest hard rock album of all time?) and ‘Down To Earth’, Universal Music have now turned their attention to two more gems from the Rainbow back catalogue, namely ‘On Stage’ and ‘Long Live Rock ‘n’ Roll’. Quite why they’ve thus far avoided ‘Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow’ (yeah, I know it was seen as more of a solo album at the time) is a somewhat perplexing question, and one can only hope a question that will be positively laid to rest in the none too distant future, but I digress … again!

Recorded over several German and Japanese dates in late ’76 on the band’s epoch marking ‘Rising’ tour and released the following summer, to the outsider it’s perhaps a little strange that ‘On Stage’ isn’t viewed with quite the same reverence as other double live sets from the day – ‘Strangers In The Night’, ‘Live And Dangerous’ and ‘Two For The Show’ springing readily to mind. Ok, a mere handful of tracks over four sides of vinyl may have been a bit of an indulgence (then again it never did Purple any harm on ‘Live In Japan’), but the individual performances were strong, producer Martin Birch did a pretty good job in cutting and pasting various takes together (especially when you factor in mid 70’s technology) and as a live unit Messrs Dio, Blackmore, Carey, Bain and Powell were quite clearly still in their honeymoon period!

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No, the elephant in the room back then and ever since was the absence of the glorious ‘Stargazer’ (not to mention ‘A Light In The Black’, although I’m not sure an officially sanctioned recording from that period even exists), Rainbow’s undisputed piece de resistance and a track they somehow seemed to abandon after that tour – I’ve boots of the Manchester shows from the ‘Rising’ and ‘Long Live Rock ‘n’ Roll’ shows somewhere kicking around and the only real difference between sets as I remember is that ‘Stargazer’ was dropped in favour of the latter’s title track … go figure? But hey, a two disc deluxe edition of ‘On Stage’ would surely address that right? Incredibly no, it doesn’t … the bonus tracks on disc two essentially being a different night’s recordings (Osaka ’76) of most of the same songs except for the addition of ‘Kill The King’ and ‘Do You Close Your Eyes’. Grateful of course for a beefed up version, but I can’t help feeling slightly disappointed by the missed opportunity to correct one of rock n’ roll’s greatest wrongs!

Thankfully I have fewer qualms about the revamped deluxe version of ‘Long Live Rock ‘n’ Roll’. Originally released in early 1978, it saw Carey and Bain ousted in favour of David Stone and Bob Daisley … more tellingly however it would be the last Rainbow album to feature the inimitable voice and lyrics of the late, great Ronnie James Dio. For some, Rainbow ceased to be an effective force after this album, and whilst I’ve plenty of time for both the Graham Bonnet and Joe Lynn Turner fronted versions of the band, I can perhaps see their point. That said, with the thumping title track, swaggering ‘Kill The King’ and the truly fabulous ‘Gates Of Babylon’ it was a hell of a way to close that particular chapter!

Presented here as a two disc set disc one has the original album whilst the second platter offers rough mixes of seven of the eight album tracks plus a rehearsal recording of ‘Long Live Rock ‘n’ Roll’ from LA in ’77 and a slew of live tracks from the Don Kirschner show in ’78. In some respects, the rough mixes are better than the finished versions – certainly ‘L.A. Connection’ and ‘Kill The King’ in my opinion – but for the avid Rainbowholics out there it’s worth it for the rare stuff alone.

The Dio/Blackmore dynamic remains the stuff of legend – and well worth the upgrade price!

Dave Cockett

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