Purple Pyramid/Cleopatra Records [Release date 20.05.16]
At the end of every Rainbow there is a pot of gold. This is surely what labels must be thinking as Ritchie Blackmore plays his Strat in anger (allegedly) this summer. Following the release of Joe Lynn Turner’s 1985 gig in Boston, presumably from the same source (local FM Radio) comes a gig featuring the JLT-era Rainbow band going through their paces on the ‘Difficult To Cure’ tour.
This era of live Rainbow is not particularly well documented on album, so ‘Boston 1981′ is something of a discovery and it’s all above aboard too, licensed from the ‘Man In Black’ himself.
When we chatted with JLT about the summer gigs it was evidently clear that he thought there may be a good chance that Blackmore could reform some of the original members and the whole thing take on more of a reunion. As it happens, we now have to console ourselves with what might have been and this historical document provides some consolation.
Graham Bonnet and Cozy Powell had left the band in 1980 and in came Joe Lynn Turner – not least for his lyrical skills – and Bobby Rondinelli. On keyboards was Don Airey and bass, Roger Glover.
The album features a mix of the new album, including the hit singles ‘I Surrender’ and ‘Can’t Happen Here’, and the usual on-stage classics including ‘Man On The Silver Mountain’ and ‘Catch The Rainbow’ the latter an extended vehicle for Blackmore (although a deadringer for Hendrix’s ‘Little Wing’) before morphing into ’16th Century Greensleeves’.
‘Difficult To Cure’ followed the band’s previous offering – ‘Down To Earth’ – in spawning a more commercial approach whilst ‘Spotlight Kid’ is straight out of the Deep Purple songbook. JLT is on sparkling form throughout and Don Airey’s keyboards are nicely up in the mix. Sadly Airey had gone by the time of the following album and after ‘Straight Between The Eyes’ the whole plot started to unravel and the band was disbanded by 1984 (although reviving a decade later).
But for a moment in May 1981 Rainbow were firing on all cylinders and this album perfectly captures the start of a particularly productive, and commercially successful, era for the band. Oh, and yes there’s a great version of ‘Smoke On The Water’. ****
Review by David Randall
David Randall presents ‘Assume The Position’ on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio every Sunday at 22:00 GMT.
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David Randall presents a weekly show on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio, Sundays at 22:00 BST (GMT+1, repeated on Mondays and Fridays), when he invites listeners to ‘Assume The Position’. This show was first broadcast on 15 November 2020.
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