RAINBOW - The Very Best of Rainbow (Polydor)

Ritchie Blackmore has never been known for his congeniality. From the early Deep Purple days, to Rainbow, back to Deep Purple, and then back to Rainbow again, Blackmore has kicked more people out of his bands than just about anyone in the history of music. Rainbow was probably the worst in that respect. In nine years, seventeen people (besides Blackmore) were in various stages of the group.

The band's first three studio albums provided the best material. Highlights from these albums were all over the radio. "Man on the Silver Mountain" and "Long Live Rock and Roll" were FM mainstays. The best thing about these albums was the progressive edge. They weren't just 'classic rock;' the music had substance. Songs like "Stargazer" and "Gates Of Babylon" show this more exciting and dramatic side of the band.

Then, the music changed. Vocalist Ronnie James Dio left the band. They began recording material that was more commercial. Fans of the band's progressive music soon lost interest. It was good news for Rainbow though, as the change in material translated into bigger record sales. All of the band's hits from the 80's are here--"Since You Been Gone," "Stone Cold" and "Street of Dreams"--plus the lesser hits like "Jealous Lover" and "I Surrender."

The liner notes come as a poster-style booklet, including a new 'family tree' for the band. The Very Best of Rainbow is a good retrospective of the band's career, although it is a bit light on the early material.

© 1997 Steve Marshall