Lion Music LTD
Release Date: November 11, 2003

User Review
9.25/10 (2 votes)

The promotional materials accompanying this CD, along with its title, Blackmore’s Castle, seem to indicate this is a tribute album to Ritchie Blackmore. However, the second half of this CD’s title goes on to explain that this instead is A Tribute to Deep Purple & Rainbow. Hmmm…possibly three tributes for the price of one? Not so quick, says I!

Blackmore’s Castle succeeds in paying tribute to Ritchie Blackmore because the guitar work by all of the bands participating is certainly tight and well crafted (of course they were given a pretty solid blueprint for success), and the bands generally don’t force too many interpretive liberties down the proverbial throats of its listeners. Unfortunately, as a tribute to Deep Purple and to Rainbow, however, the grade is not nearly as impressive.

I’ve stated these “rules” before, but I think the formula for success when creating a tribute album is worth mentioning again:

1). Choose the bands carefully.
2). Don’t disrespect the tribute band by skimping on the production quality.
3). Keep the interpretations of each song down to earth.
4). Lastly, make sure most of the songs selected for the tribute album are recognizable.

Overall, the bands successfully stay within the earth’s stratosphere with respect to their musical interpretations. Lion Music LTD. essentially does o.k. with criteria #1, but fails on #4, and could have done better on criteria #2. There are seven Deep Purple and six Rainbow songs on this tribute album, which at first blush, looks like a pretty good decision. As we all know, both bands indeed have recorded a number of absolutely great songs that are readily recognizable by hard rock/heavy metal fans and classic rock fans alike. Disappointingly, songs from Deep Purple such as “Woman from Tokyo”, “Hush”, and of course, “Smoke on the Water” evidently didn’t make the cut. Similarly, songs from Rainbow such as “Can’t Happen Here”, “All Night Long”, “Since You Been Gone”, and basically everything else NOT recorded during the Ronnie James Dio era, didn’t make it either. Instead, the songs chosen are all of the “long” variety, and when the tribute versions of certain songs don’t exactly “work” out of the shoot, the length of each of these lemons leads to an unfortunately painful listening experience.

Now, my Mommy told me many times as a youth that “if you can’t say nuttin’ nice, don’t say nuttin’ at all!” So from hereon, I’ll just focus on what’s good about Blackmore’s Castle. First, notable without a doubt, is Winterlong’s version of “Highway Star”, which may be the best cover of any song by any band that I’ve ever heard. Winterlong does a remarkable job of breaking the song down into its component instrument parts and delivering a no-frills, yet powerful, rendition of this Deep Purple classic. Vocally, the song is a bit more subdued than it could/should be, but the surging power build up of the drums as the song progresses and perfect guitar playing during the extended solo sessions more than make up for this minor shortcoming.

Other notable successes on this album include Mister Kite’s version of “Bloodsucker”, Reign of Terror’s “Sixteenth Century Greensleeves”, Headline’s “Battle Rages On”, and both Condition Red covers – “Black Night” and “Still I’m Sad”. Mister Kite does a particularly good job of replicating the original Deep Purple version of “Bloodsucker” (this is probably the best produced song on the album), while the guitar playing by Reign of Terror’s Joe Stump is nothing short of spectacular and versatile within “Sixteenth Century Greensleeves”. Headline’s version of “Battle Rages On” is both a vicious assault (very “battle-ish”) and full of rage, and is truly enjoyable from start to finish. Condition Red takes the most liberties with their interpretations, and I’ll be the first to say I don’t necessarily agree with their entire direction, but their versions of “Black Night” and “Still I’m Sad” are certainly an interesting listen, to say the least!

Overall, if you’re one of those rabid fans of Rainbow, Deep Purple, and/or Ritchie Blackmore, you’ll probably find enough musical integrity in Blackmore’s Castle to make this purchase worthwhile and to further round out your musical collection. For casual fans of the aforementioned, only 5 quality covers and 1 superb cover (“Highway Star”) out of 13 total tracks, along with a questionable song selection, probably makes this a CD you’d prefer to borrow from your rabid fan buddy sometime – knowing that you can always give it back without having to dish out your own hard-earned dough.

Guitars & Bass: B
Percussion: B
Vocals: C-
Recording Quality: C+
Originality: C
Overall Rating: C-
Release Date: November 11, 2003


Mister Kite – Bloodsucker
Transcendence – Perfect Strangers
Arabesque – Stargazer
Lars Eric Mattsson – Self Portrait
Reign of Terror – Sixteenth Century Greensleeves
Iron Mask – Gates of Babylon
Headline – Battle Rages On
Condition Red – Black Night
Torben Enevolden – Space Truckin’
Eric Zimmermann – Man on the Silver Mountain
Winterlong – Highway Star
Jason Richardson – Lazy
Condition Red – Still I’m Sad


  • Dan Skiba

    Dan is a former partner at Metal Express Radio, and also served as a reviewer, photographer and interviewer on occasions. Based out of Indianapolis, USA he was first turned on to Hard Rock music in the mid-1970s when he purchased Deep Purple's Machine Head as his first album. He was immediately enthralled with the powerful guitar sound and pronounced drumbeat, and had to get more! His collection quickly expanded to include as many of Heavy Rock bands of the time that he could get his hands on, such as Ted Nugent, Judas Priest, and Black Sabbath, to name just a few.

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