Eagle Rock Entertainment [Release date 30.10.15]

2016 marks the return of Ritchie to the rock arenas and so this 2 hour plus documentary is timely.  He’s known as one of rock’s more reticent subjects when it comes to interviews, so the fact that this product features new interview material with the man himself lends both credibility and additional interest.

If you then add in the usual talking heads (this time Brian May, Luke, Satch (who of course was briefly with Purple) and former Purple colleagues including the late Jon Lord) and archive footage (although no song in its entirety) this builds into a very welcome profile of one of our most respected and influential guitarists.

A deluxe edition includes a DVD of ‘Live In Tokyo’ (recorded with Rainbow in 1984).  The only journalistic contributions are from Chris Welch, Charles Charlesworth and – surprise, surprise – Malcolm Dome who seems to have cornered the market for this sort of thing along with his ubiquitous liner notes.

The story quickly moves to Deep Purple and whilst it may be familiar it is good to get Blackmore’s own take on things, especially when loosened by a few beers.  The musical differences with vocalist Ian Gillan (who then left with Glover) might be considered strange given that Blackmore had originally been attracted to his trade mark scream and sexual appeal to a female audience.

The rise and fall of Rainbow is also charted, and the ultimate differences with Ronnie Dio and Graham Bonnet.  The overall impression is that Blackmore isn’t the easiest of people to get on with, a temper that hasn’t always been tempered (although with a playful sense of humour), and his relationship with Candice Night might be perceived as his ultimate making.  Obviously Candice features prominently in the second half of the story, and this DVD.

It’s the bonus material that’s more revealing about Ritchie’s personality and is a useful supplement to the main documentary helping to provide possible reasons for his psyche.  The film-makers do not really touch on Ritchie’s formative musical years in the main narrative so  several reflections help illuminate this aspect.  And the talking heads return to provide further insight about Ritchie as a musician.

More than anything, this DVD will restore Blackmore’s positioning both in the eyes of his peers and his public.  He’s never been inactive since he finally threw the towel in with Purple in 1993, and Rainbow in 1995, and ‘Blackmore’s Night’  is a perfectly creditable venture that’s persisted since 1997.  But this extended diversion has troubled and confused fans and at the very least kept Blackmore from truly unleashing his Stratified soul although perhaps not as he did at the famed California Jam in 1974.

It will be interesting to see the impact of his gigs next year and whether this becomes a one-off for the now septuagenerian or a springboard for a rock re-launch.  It could be one of the greatest comebacks of all time and, frankly, not before time.  ****

Review by David Randall

David Randall presents ‘Assume The Position’ on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio every Sunday at 22:00 GMT.

Blackmore’s Night interview/feature (October 2015)

David Randall plays a selection of new and classic rock in his weekly show first broadcast 14 June 2020 including reference to the Feature series “2020 Vision”.

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