Analog Adventures: Rainbow Rising

Rainbow

Rainbow Rising

(1976)

About the Artist

Ritchie Blackmore is heavy metal royalty, being one of the genre’s best guitarists and songwriters. His involvement with Deep Purple brought about iconic songs such as Smoke on the Water, Burn, and My Woman from Tokyo. Rainbow is Ritchie Blackmore’s departure from Deep Purple. It is also a major collaboration between him and Ronnie James Dio. Dio later saw success with Black Sabbath and his solo endeavors. His eponymous debut solo album is still held up as a beacon of heavy metal songwriting. The heavy metal pedigree between the two main songwriters of Rainbow rouse excitement in the music world, and their excitement pays off.

The Album Itself

The album is a departure from Deep Purple’s British heavy metal themes and excess. Instead, Rainbow Rising focuses on Dio’s prefered fantasy themes such as medieval castles, magic, and monsters. Fans and critics alike dub this style of heavy metal as castle rock due to the Dungeons and Dragons imagery. Lyrics aside, this album features virtuosic performances on all fronts. The first track Tarot Woman begins with a warm and enveloping synthesizer solo and pulsates into the main guitar riff. The guitar is pushed aside for Cozy Powell’s drums to enter like a cannon. The bass gallops to tie the rhythm section together, and the band digs into a groove before switching keys for Dio’s entrance. It is genuinely exciting to hear the band come together.

“There’s a hole in the sky, something evil’s passing by. What’s to come – when the siren calls you go? To run with the wolf” – Rainbow, Run With The Wolf

This level of songwriting is consistent throughout the length of the album. While there are only six total tracks clocking in at just over 33 minutes, the album has a grandiose sense of scale of a much larger album. The final two tracks, Stargazer and A Light in the Black clock in at over eight minutes a piece. The former features a string section and a harmonic minor chord progression reminiscent of Led Zeppelin’s Kashmir.

The inside of the gatefold.

Is It Worth It?

Fans of heavy metal often cite Black Sabbath and Deep Purple as pioneers in the genre. While these two bands formed the foundation for the genre and subsequent subgenres, it is important to see how these two bands sound when they collaborate. This is as close as a collaboration between Black Sabbath and Deep Purple as the world will receive, and it does not disappoint the listener.

Rainbow Rising is a gate fold weighing approximately 140 grams, which is pretty standard fare considering the age of the record. The art is iconic and makes for a great ode to the history of heavy metal. The album is readily available in just about every record store that carries used LPs. Unless you’re looking for a new and sealed copy, do not expect to pay more than $15. It is also widely available on online retailers such as Discogs, averaging between $12-25 depending on the condition. This is an excellent addition to any collection.

Outstanding Tracks.

  • Tarot Woman
  • Run With The Wolf
  • Stargazer
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Jose Diaz

Collector of analog media.

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