Live In Germany 1976

Rainbow

Not to be confused with the equally gripping DVD/CD set, Live In Munich 1977, the double-CD Live In Germany 1976 features a classic lineup of Rainbow with guitarist Ritchie Blackmore, singer Ronnie James Dio, drummer Cozy Powell, bassist Jimmy Bain and keyboardist Tony Carey. This eight-song set accurately captures the firepower of early Rainbow; a time and circumstance that was, for many, the band at their absolute peak as a concert attraction.

Touring behind the stunning sophomore effort, Rising, this configuration was the first under the Rainbow moniker to play live, so the stakes were high. Much of the pressure lay with Blackmore who had left Deep Purple the year before because of musical differences. With two solid Rainbow releases for the public to explore, the notoriously moody guitarist was intent on reclaiming his credibility as a dragon slayer, a medieval minstrel whose every pluck of the string would send chills through the main vein of all who entered the castle. Having the mighty Dio along as his verbal messenger added to the depth and commitment of Blackmore's goals.

Having been on the road for a few months, the band's chemistry on stage had reached a boiling point. "Kill The King" lifts up and saturates the audience before they even know what hits them. But this is Blackmore's moment, and on "Mistreated," the lone Purple track the guitarist returned to, the solos run the gamut, from sizzling to dramatic to all-out mind-blowing. On the epic "Stargazer," Blackmore and company embark on a most ambitious journey, first put into play by a few swigs of Moog-berry delight, courtesy of Carey, who would later makes waves with his Planet P Project. The gate is open, Powell does a drum roll, and the main riff drops, like a bomb from a cargo plane.

Live In Germany 1976 is classic Rainbow rising, on all fronts - a monolith of perpetual motion, advancing with an agenda that practically defied the commercially driven whirlpool sequestering the music world of the late 70s. Almost by default, Blackmore threw in his lot in the 80s and joined the circus before going back into the castle to scratch out far more austere melodies. Tracing recent Deep Purple live releases to early Rainbow, it's obvious the guitarist was evolving as an aural architect without compromise. His choice of Dio to enhance the melodies with majestic salt and soul was, at the time, perceived as a lucky stroke of genius. Coming now, over a year after the singer's passing, it's a marvelous tribute to a time and place that should never be taken for granted.

~ Shawn Perry

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