Rainbow, despite the illusion of being a full fledged band, has always been more of a Ritchie Blackmore solo project. The band started out as a side project when Ritchie wanted to record a cover of "Black Sheep of the Family", which was an idea apparently rejected by Deep Purple while recording "Stormbringer." Ritchie asked Elf vocalist Ronnie Dio to sing on the song. It worked so well that the two decided to record an entire album with the rest of Elf. For the tour Ritchie found drummer Cozy Powell and bassist Jimmy Bain. Many consider this to be the ultimate Rainbow line-up. The first three studio albums were somewhat consistent and representative of a band effort, but even through those years it was Ritchie plus any number of revolving musicians. After this Ritchie wanted to conquer the US market and gain some hit singles, so original vocalist Ronnie James Dio was given his walking papers in 1978. Together with vocalist Grahm Bonnet, Blackmore scored a hit single with "Since You've Been Gone." However, the band was never quite the same after Dio and was a revolving door of vocalists and musicians for the remainder of their career.

Drummer Cozy Powell died in a car crash on April, 5, 1998.

Rainbow Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow (Polydor) 1975

1."Man on the Silver Mountain" (4:37)
2."Self Portrait" (3:12)
3."Black Sheep of the Family" (3:19)
4."Catch the Rainbow" (6:29)
5."Snake Charmer" (4:30)
6."The Temple of the King" (4:43)
7."If You Don't Like Rock 'n' Roll" (2:35)
8."Sixteenth Century Greensleeves" (3:29)
9."Still I'm Sad" [instrumental] (3:52)

Egomaniac Ritchie Blackmore recorded this album as a solo effort with Ronnie James Dio and his current band Elf, minus their guitarist of course. I read that the last Elf record "Trying to Burn the Sun" and this record were recorded around the same time and certainly were released the same year. Anyhow, of the three Dio-era Rainbow albums, this is my least favorite, but it's still a great album. Of course "Man on the Silver Mountain" was a hit for the band and is still played on the classic rock stations.

Magnitude 9 recorded a smoking version of "Man on the Silver Mountain".

Rasing Rainbow - Rising (Polydor) 1976

1."Tarot Woman" (6:08)
2."Run with the Wolf" (3:47)
3."Starstruck" (4:04)
4."Do You Close Your Eyes" (2:58)
5."Stargazer" (8:27)
6."A Light in the Black" (8:11)

"Rising" displays the classic Rainbow lineup and is, in my opinion, one of the best albums ever recorded! The bass player is Jimmy Bain (later to play with Dio in...well, DIO), keyboards are done by Tony Carey, plus the consummate drummer Cozy Powell (Whitesnake, Black Sabbath, etc. etc. etc.). Of course guitarist Ritchie Blackmore is a legendary guitarist and Ronnie James Dio is one of the greatest heavy metal vocalists of all time. "Starstruck," "Stargazer" and "Tarot Woman" are all awesome and some of my personal favorite Rainbow songs! As I stated, "Rising" is one of the best heavy metal albums to come out of the 1970's.

Interestingly enough, back in the 1990's Dio described the album as "self indulgent shit on the second side" but also added that "the first side is great and has real songs on it." According to Ronnie Rainbow's first album was "the best Rainbow album to me".

On Stage Rainbow - On Stage (Polydor) 1977

1. "Kill The King" (5:31)
2. Medley: "Man On The Silver Mountain/Blues/Stqarstruck" (11:15)
3."Catch The Rainbow" (15:36)
4. "Mistreated" (13:07)
5. "Sixteenth Century Greensleeves" (7:37)
6. "Still I'm Sad" (11:05)

This album, while being a great live album, always bugged me slightly. Why the heck did they not include "Stargazer," the band's best song ever, and one that they definitley played during this time! OK, it is available on some expensive imports but why did they not include it on "On Stage." Argh! Well, besides that minor irritation, "On Stage" features some great extended versions of "Catch the Rainbow" and "Mistreated," a song from Blackmore's Deep Purple days. "Kill the King" is song which would show up on their next studio album, but made it's debut on this live album and is another great song. Of course no concert featuring the mighty Dio would be complete without Ronnie crying out, "I'm the man, I'm the man, You're the the man...We're all the maaaaaaaaaannnn." HA! Ronnie James Dio rules!

Liege Lord and Primal Fear have covered "Kill the King."

Long Live Rock & Roll Rainbow - Long Live Rock & Roll (Polygram) 1978

1."Long Live Rock 'n' Roll" (4:19)
2."Lady of the Lake" (3:37)
3."L.A. Connection" (4:58)
4."Gates of Babylon" (6:46)
5."Kill the King" (4:28)
6."The Shed (Subtle)" (4:45)
7."Sensitive to Light" (3:04)
8."Rainbow Eyes" (7:11)

One of the finest early heavy metal albums ever made. "Gates of Babylon" is a killer song and personally one of my favorites on this album. Of course the title tracks is another excellent song and has managed to stay alive throughout Dio's career even after Rainbow. I've read about 20 different stories as to why Dio left, or was kicked out, after this album so I really have no clue what really happened. I do know Ronnie went on to revive Black Sabbath's career.

The Dio tribute, Holy Dio: A Tribute to the Voice of Metal, contains cover versions of several songs from Rainbow's first three albums: "Man on the Silver Mountain" (Hammerfall), "Temple of the King" (Angel Dust), "Still I'm Sad" (Axel Rudi Pell), "Long Live Rock'n'Roll" (Gamma Ray), "Gates of Babylon" (Yngwie Malmsteen), "Kill the King" (Primal Fear), and "Rainbow Eyes" (Catch the Rainbow).

'Kill the King' has also been covered by a number of other bands including Heathen and Stratovarious.

I sort of lost interest in Rainbow after Dio left and only recently picked up a few of the post-Dio discs when I've stumbled across them in the used bins.


Rainbow - Down to Earth (Polydor) 1979

1. "All Night Long" (3:49)
2. "Eyes of the World" (6:39)
3. "No Time to Lose" (3:41)
4. "Makin' Love" (4:36)
5. "Since You Been Gone" (3:16)
6. "Love's No Friend" (4:51)
7. "Danger Zone" (4:27)
8. "Lost in Hollywood" (4:51)

Up to this point Rainbow had been the brilliant brainchild of Ritchie Blackmore featuring the amazing Ronnie James Dio on vocals. However, after the Long Live Rock and Roll tour, Ronnie was given his walking papers and new vocalist Graham Bonnet was brought in to give the band a more mainstream sound. Rainbow was something of a supergroup at this point with Deep Purple bassist Roger Glover handling bass duties, as well as producing, consumate drummer Cozy Powell pounding on the skins, and Don Airey on keys. However, what results is something a bit more commercial than the neo-classical metal that was "Rainbow Rising" or "Long Live Rock and Roll." The result was a hit with the single "Since You Been Gone." However, I still think there are some classic Rainbow moments on this disc, especially in album closer "Lost in Hollywood" and album opener "All Night Long". These are both excellent songs with those smokin' Blackmore licks that made me love those first three albums so much.

Graham Bonnett later went on to form Alcatrazz with guitar virtuoso Yngwie Malmsteen, who became a legend on his own, as well as doing an album with Rainbow's Joe Lynn Turner! Alcatrazz also introduced the world to Steve Vai, who of course became world-famous by playing with David Lee Roth, and Whitesnake. Graham went on to sing for Impellitteri, but never managed to reach the heights of success of some of the musicians he worked with in Rainbow or Alcatrazz.

Dificult to Cure Rainbow - Difficult to Cure (Polydor) 1981

1. "I Surrender" (4:00)
2. "Spotlight Kid" (4:52)
3. "No Release" (5:31)
4. "Magic" (4:05)
5. "Vielleicht das Nächste Mal (Maybe Next Time)" [instrumental] (3:16)
6. "Can't Happen Here" (4:56)
7. "Freedom Fighter" (4:19)
8. "Midtown Tunnel Vision" (4:30)
9. "Difficult to Cure (Beethoven's Ninth)" [instrumental] (5:50)

Yet another new Rainbow lineup, this time featuring Joe Lynn Turner, who helped defined the band's 80's sound for the next three albums. Ritchie's former Deep Purple band-mate Roger Glover joined in on bass duties and keyboardist Don Airey,(ex-Jethro Tull) was on board as well. Overall a decent CD, but not one of my favorites. "Spotlight Kid" is perhaps the heaviest and my favorite song. The two instrumentals are a nice addition.

JealousLover Rainbow - Jealous Lover (Polydor) 1981

1. Jealous Lover (3:12)
2. Weiss Heim [instrumental] (5:12)
3. Can't Happen Here (5:02)
4. I Surrender (4:01)

Four song EP featuring the UK single "Jealous Lover" and an instrumental titled "Weiss Heim". Both tracks were exclusive to this EP upon it's release but were added to "Final Vinyl" five years later. The two b-side tracks are both taken from "Difficult to Cure". The EP features the same line-up as "Difficult to Cure"of Ritchie Blackmore (guitars), Joe Lynn Turner (vocals), Roger Glover (bass), Don Airey (keyboards) and Bobby Rondinelli (drums).

Straight Between the Eyes Rainbow - Straight Between the Eyes (Polydor) 1982

1."Death Alley Driver" (4:42)
2."Stone Cold" (5:17)
3."Bring on the Night (Dream Chaser)" (4:06)
4."Tite Squeeze" (3:15)
5."Tearin' Out My Heart" (4:03)
6."Power" (4:26)
7."MISS Mistreated" (4:27)
8."Rock Fever" (3:50)
9."Eyes of Fire" (6:37)

In high school I thought the album "Straight Between the Eyes" was cool, but I never could totally get into the overtly , melodic pop metal that Blackmore was pumping out. It's not that it's a bad album, but in comparison to those darker, heavier Dio-years, it stands in stark comparison. However, "Stone Cold" the big hit from the album, is an excellent, melodic hard rock song with a big hook. "Death Alley Driver" is a kick butt song, one of Rainbow's finest. Also, there is no denying that Blackmore is an outstanding guitarist. He lays down some choice leads throughout this record. However, for the most part "Straight Between the Eyes" doesn't hold a candle to the Dio-era.

Ritchie Blackmore
Ritchie Blackmore

Bent Out of Shape Rainbow - Bent out of Shape (Polydor) 1983

1."Stranded" (4:26)
2."Can't Let You Go" (4:21)
3."Fool for the Night" (4:04)
4."Fire Dance" (4:29)
5."Anybody There" [instrumental] (2:37)
6."Desperate Heart" (4:03)
7."Street of Dreams" (4:26)
8."Drinking with the Devil" (3:43)
9."Snowman" [instrumental] (4:32)
10."Make Your Move" (3:56)

This album sounds just like the one before it. "Street of Dreams" sounds just like "Stone Cold!" A legend like Ritchie Blackmore is capable of so much more than this. I guess if I forget who this band is made up of, this is not such a bad disc. Vocalist Joe Lynn Turner, who has been with Rainbow for the last three albums, went on to join Yngwie Malmsteen and later rejoined Ritchie Blackmore in Deep Purple. (Joe is a good vocalist but could never even touch the greatness of Ian Gillan or Ronnie James Dio)

Finyl Vinyl Rainbow - Finyl Vinyl (Polydor) 1986

1. "Spotlight Kid" [live] (6:03)
2. "I Surrender" [live] (5:42)
3. "Miss Mistreated" [live] (4:20)
5. "Jealous Lover" (3:10)
6. "Can't Happen Here" [live] (4:14)
8. "Since You Been Gone" [live] (3:45)
9. "Bad Girl" (4:51)
1. "Difficult to Cure" [live/instrumental] (11:13)
2. "Stone Cold" [live] (4:28)
3. "Power" [live] (4:27)
4. "Man on the Silver Mountain" [live] (8:18)
5. "Long Live Rock'n'Roll" [live] (7:07)
6. "Weiss Heim" [instrumental] (5:12)

"Finyl Vinyl" was suppose to be Rainbow's farewell recording. It is basically a compilation of mostly live tracks with a few "new" studio tracks thrown in. (Actually, two of the studio tracks are from the rare "Jealous Lover" EP with only "Bad Girl" being an exclusive track). The songs featured are from the various different Rainbow line-ups, all the way back to original vocalist Ronnie James Dio. Graham Bonnet and Joe Lynn Turner are both represented here as well. As such, listening to this from beginning to end is a bit odd. The different eras of Rainbow were very different, making for an uneven record.

The original vinyl pressing had a gatefold cover with tons of photos of the various incarnations of Rainbow. The original CD pressing of "Finyl Vinyl" is a single disc and omits two live tracks "Street of Dreams" and "Tearin' Out My Heart". This is the copy I own, as well as the vinyl version. There is now a remastered, 2-CD reissue with all the tracks.

Stranger in Us All Rainbow - Stranger in Us All (Fuel 2000) 1998

1."Wolf to the Moon" (4:16)
2."Cold Hearted Woman" (4:31)
3."Hunting Humans (Insatiable)" (5:45)
4."Stand and Fight" (5:22)
5."Ariel" (5:39)
6."Too Late for Tears" (4:56)
7."Black Masquerade" (5:35)
8."Silence" (4:04)
9."Hall of the Mountain King" (5:34)
10."Still I'm Sad" (5:22)

Ritchie was in and out of Deep Purple through the years. Apparently his ego is beyond that of even Yngwie Malmsteen's which has caused some serious fights between him and Gillan. In any case, at this point, Ritchie was out of Deep Purple and put out this solo disc with a bunch of unknown musicians. I actually like it better than any of the Joe Lynn Turner-era discs as it retains some of the gothic medieval ambiences of Rainbow's earlier material.

Munich 77 Rainbow - Live In Munich 1977 (Eagle Records) 2006

1. "Kill The King" (4:41)
2. "Mistreated" (11:03)
3. "Sixteenth Century Greensleeves" (8:21)
4. "Catch The Rainbow" (17:31)
5. "Long Live Rock 'N' Roll" (7:33)
1. "Man On The Silver Mountain" (14:39)
2. "Still I'm Sad" (25:16)
3. "Do You Close Your Eyes" (9:37)

Recorded live at Munich Olympiahalle, Germany October 20, 1977 and originally aired on German TV. There is no need for a long drawn out review here. Rainbow in '77 were at the top of their game and this CD is a testament to that fact. Ritchie Blackmore was in charge, so there is plenty of those long, extended jams, as well as a very cool drum solo from Cozy Powell. The only thing that is really missing from this set list is "Stargazer" which was left out in favor of new song "Long Live Rock 'n' Roll". I would have rather they removed any other song than "Stargazer"! Still, as it stands this is a fantastic live recording. The line-up for this CD was: Guitar - Ritchie Blackmore, Vocals - Ronnie James Dio, Bass - Bob Daisley, Keyboard - David Stone and Drums - Cozy Powell.

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