Saturday, July 23, 2011

Rainbow Deluxe Editions prove interesting

As I type this I am listening through both discs in the new deluxe edition of Rainbow Rising, an album that for many represents the peak of Ritchie Blackmore's work under the Rainbow banner. Originally released in 1976 it contains a couple of classic tracks, especially Stargazer, and while there's no doubt Ronnie Dio and Cozy Powell contribute mightily on this record, the original LP version always sounded thin to my ears. About  a decade ago I bought the remastered CD version which added little sonically (and nothing track wise) to the original, a situation that always bewildered me given the near legendary status of this album. Jimmy Bain played bass on Rising but you'd be hard pressed to know it, up til now.

I was slightly late coming to this release, figuring that I hardly needed another copy, and when the 'extras' were revealed as just different mixes of the same songs, early reviewers seemed to imply there was little to get excited about, but after listening a couple of times, I disagree. Heaven knows only the most trainspotter-like among us need three versions of any track, and I concur with some who feel that the 'New York' mix and the 'LA' mix require some close listening to distinguish ( I do favor the LA mix where there is actually some bass guitar present), however all is forgiven once the previously unreleased 'Rough Mix' version on disc two springs forth. Reportedly sourced from Cozy Powell's own copy, and yes, available in bootleg form for years, the inclusion here belies the 'rough' descriptor and offers, to my ears, perhaps the most revealing and powerful recording of this album: greater dynamics, instrumental separation, and at last, you can hear the lower octaves. If there is a definitive version of the album, I can safely say the official release (the so-called New York mix) is not it!  I can't help but wonder how it might have gone over in the seventies if this mix had been the official release.

Of course, with this version coming in at $20 on Amazon, I pause at the thought of how many times I've bought some records (my Hendrix collection has cost me the most in this regard as there always seems to be new versions, though piecing together a collection of many mid 20th century jazz artists can be even more expensive and confusing) but in the absence of any compelling new rock to capture my attention (though I am getting a lot of pleasure from Black Country Communion's debut) I have quickly forgotten the price and just been spinning this release over the weekend with no little pleasure. Hearing "Light in the Black" brought back many happy memories of listening to this album on Radio Caroline as a teenager (definitely not an audiophile experience)  and of  meeting Cozy Powell  on the street two afternoons in a row in Dublin, quite by chance. Peace to him and Ronnie, both gone now, and both gracious, friendly people. For all their other successes, the Blackmore/Dio/Powell trinity rarely did anything better, and here at last is a chance to re-capture some of the magic. Nostalgia sometimes is what it used to be :)

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