Album review: RITCHIE BLACKMORE’S RAINBOW – Live In Birmingham 2016

RITCHIE BLACKMORE'S RAINBOW - Live In Birmingham 2016

Eagle Records [Release date 09.06.17]

You may wonder why – after the release last year of the German gigs – we have yet another version of Ritchie’s hard rock comeback?  As we commented in our original review, it is a shame that the compilers didn’t include the additional two tracks performed in the UK as a bonus.  But here they are now, and – what d’ya know – the latest UK tour is imminent…

Rather than be considered a cynical marketing exercise, you could argue that this is for completists only and the anally retentive who want to compare and contrast with the German recording.  And of course if you attended the Birmingham gig, it is a useful keepsake to line up alongside the already purchased “first take”.  With a fair amount of crowd singalong – as with the German gigs – this is more of a celebration than a serious rendition of former glories.

But, read the small print: “This is a soundboard recording.  Every effort has been made to achieve optimum and uniform sound quality.”  The “soundboard” tag is really the clue to all of this, as the album has a much cleaner and less atmospheric sound than the previous release and indeed most live recordings.

As with many soundboard recordings it all sounds a bit flat and a tad lethargic – even if superior quality than most – and probably approximates more to what the band were hearing in their in-ear monitors.  Even with a “clean” live recording it is possible to process the sound to approximate “what was heard on the night” by the audience but it seems no effort has been made in this direction.  It also begs the question: why wasn’t this historic UK gig recorded properly in the first place?

Is this worth it for the additional tracks?  Well, in truth, we’ve all heard better, more frenetic versions of ‘Burn’ not least from latter-day Glenn Hughes and Coverdale.  And ‘Soldier Of Fortune’ is again spoilt by crowd noise which presumably couldn’t be mixed out.

On this version, does Ronnie Romero compromise the start of ‘Smoke On The Water’ as he did in Germany?  Yes, as he leads a crowd singalong of verse/chorus, and – furthermore – it’s compounded by Blackmore’s somewhat perfunctory picking and a convoluted intro.  Oh dear, no doubt “Live In Birmingham 2017″ awaits…  ***

Review by David Randall

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

Album review (Memories In Rock – Live In Germany)


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