RAINBOW – Rising & Down To Earth [Deluxe Reissues]

RAINBOW - Rising [Deluxe Reissue]
  • 10/10
    RAINBOW - Rising (Deluxe Reissue) - 10/10
  • 8.5/10
    RAINBOW - Down To Earth (Deluxe Reissue) - 8.5/10


Release date: February 28, 2011

User Review
9/10 (2 votes)

When Ritchie Blackmore decamped from Deep Purple following his final show in Paris in 1975, his escape strategy was already in place. Accompanied by former Purple support act Elf, minus guitarist Steve Edwards, Blackmore lost no time in launching his new venture: Rainbow.

Not long after the completion of the classic laden Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow, Blackmore fired the entire band with the exception of vocalist Ronnie James Dio, as he went to work to assemble the perfect band — something that he would do time and again over the coming years. Recruiting ex-Jeff Beck Group drummer Cozy Powell alongside bassist Jimmy Bain and Toney Carey on keyboards, Blackmore created what many consider as the definitive Rainbow line-up, and it’s the one that would go on to create not only Blackmore’s finest moment, but also an album that is considered one of the greatest in Rock history: Rising.

From the sumptuous Ken Kelly cover featuring the iconic Rainbow fist, to the grandiose, neo-classical grandeur of the orchestral steeped epic “Stargazer”, every last moment of the album is one to savor. Blackmore, Dio, and Powell all gave career defining performances throughout and none more so than on the awe-inspiring pairing of the aforementioned “Stargazer” and its thunderous follow-up, “A Light In The Black”, a monumental testament to a band at the very top of their game.

Universal have finally, after much speculation, given the album its deluxe treatment and it features three different mixes of the album and a live tour rehearsal run through “Stargazer”.

The “New York Mix” makes up the first part of the album and seems to contain the version that made the final cut (at least in the UK and Europe) that has been available for some time on the numerous existing releases. The “Los Angeles Mix” certainly seems much brighter with far more punch to the low end, allowing the listener to hear Bain’s bass work to a greater degree of clarity than before. Perhaps the most notable difference is in Dio’s vocals, which are far more prominent in the mix and for this reason alone it makes this reissue worth the purchase price.

A second disc contains “Rough Mixes”, which seem to be similar versions to the “New York Mix” with some subtle differences. More obvious changes are the keyboard intro to “Stargazer” and the additional cowbell to the start of “Do You Close Your Eyes?” Maybe further nuances will reveal themselves after repeated listens.

The final of four versions of “Stargazer” is a “Pirate Sound Tour Rehearsal”, which was a run through the song in the studio prior to the ensuing world tour, and although not great in terms of sound quality, it’s certainly worth hearing from a historical perspective.

The packaging is commensurate with an album of this stature, featuring a fold out digipack type sleeve and an informative, color booklet telling the story of the making of the album, although a note on the different mixes and a complete set of lyrics wouldn’t have gone amiss.

Although a contemporary live show would have been a much welcome addition to this set, there are already several live shows from the German tour available for fans to explore further. Also, the near legendary alternate version of “A Light In The Black” featuring a different Carey keyboard solo, would have been a great bonus, but after much searching, this could not be found.

All in all, this version is a worthy release of a classic album, and whether you’ll want to listen through all of the different versions more than a couple of times, you can pick the one you prefer in the knowledge that you have the definitive version of one of Rock’s greatest releases.

Following the tour in support of Rising, Blackmore once again shuffled his pack and jettisoned Carey and Bain for the excellent Long Live Rock’n Roll opus. By 1979, however, Dio himself had departed for Black Sabbath as Rainbow were about to head into previously unchartered territory with yet another line-up change.

Blackmore had made no secret of his desire for chart success and a move away from Dio’s fantasy-inspired lyrics to a more contemporary direction. Bringing in Blackmore’s old Purple mate Roger Glover, first as producer, then on bass, as previous incumbent ex-Pretty Thing’s Jack Green didn’t work out and also ex-Coliseum II keyboardist Don Airey came in alongside long-time drummer Cozy Powell to more or less finalize the new line-up.

The main issue now was to fill the huge boots left by Dio. Graham Bonnet was tracked down and invited to audition, securing his place in the band after the first three words of the Purple classic “Mistreated” were delivered in exactly the style Blackmore was after.

To the long-time Rainbow fans this was a hard blow to take, as not only had Bonnet taken Dio’s place in the band but he had, horror of horrors, short hair and an affinity for Hawaiian shirts. Yet no one could doubt that he possessed one powerful and distinctive voice.

First single from the album Down to Earth, “Since You’ve Been Gone” achieved the chart success that Blackmore so desperately sought and the follow-up “All Night Long” proved that this was no flash in the pan. Some older fans dismissed the new found commercial success, but the band won over legions of new fans who had discovered them through the extensive airplay that they now received.

Down To Earth was very much a transitional period in Rainbow’s history and saw them heading into a more commercial radio friendly direction, while still retaining elements of their classic sound. “Eyes Of The World” was an epic cut from the same cloth as the likes of “Stargazer” and “Gates Of Babylon”, a brooding monolith backed by the ominous strains of “Mars” from Host’s The Planets. “Lost In Hollywood” was a furious Cozy Powell-powered Rocker, while “Loves No Friend” gave Bonnet the chance to shine on a classy bluesy number.

Again, Universal has given the album a make over and included a plethora of bonus material to expand the album into a double CD. The first disc contains the original album with the addition of the Purple-esq “Bad Girl” and the wonderfully tasteful instrumental “Weiss Heim” — both B-sides to singles released from the album.

Disc 2 features mainly instrumental outtakes from the album. At first view this doesn’t seem particularly attractive, but these are not simply the finished songs with the vocals removed. Instead these are early takes of the songs with slightly different arrangements giving a fascinating insight to the development of the album.

Perhaps of greater interest are the early versions of “No Time To Lose” and “Love’s No Friend”, which were originally titled “Spark Don’t Mean A Fire” and “Ain’t A Lot Of Love In The Heart Of Me”. Both feature different arrangements and totally different lyrics, and Bonnet’s performance on “Ain’t A Lot of Love …” is surprisingly David Coverdale-ish in his delivery.

A final “Cozy Powell” mix of “All Night Long” is hardly essential and seems little more than a run through the song with Powell’s drums pushed right up in the mix.

Again, there’ll be arguments as to the bonus cuts on the album with many calling for the inclusion of the legendary headlining spot at Donnington in 1980, which was filmed for UK television. With any luck, this will see the light of day at some point soon.

Whatever your thoughts on the bonus material, there’s no denying that over 30 years later Down To Earth stands the test of time and formed the perfect bridge from the classic Dio years to the more Pop-orientated Joe Lynn Turner era.

Both Rising and Down To Earth deluxe reissues have much going for them, mainly centered around the fact that the original albums contained such great songs. The bonus material and excellent packaging adds to the interest for the avid collector, but may be superfluous for the casual fan who may be better served picking up the single disc versions more cheaply instead, but for the hardcore Rainbow fans out there these are treasure troves well worth delving into even if you have the original albums.


  • Mick Burgess

    Mick is a reviewer and photographer here at Metal Express Radio, based in the North-East of England. He first fell in love with music after hearing Jeff Wayne's spectacular The War of the Worlds in the cold winter of 1978. Then in the summer of '79 he discovered a copy of Kiss Alive II amongst his sister’s record collection, which literally blew him away! He then quickly found Van Halen I and Rainbow's Down To Earth, and he was well on the way to being rescued from Top 40 radio hell!   Over the ensuing years, he's enjoyed the Classic Rock music of Rush, Blue Oyster Cult, and Deep Purple; the AOR of Journey and Foreigner; the Pomp of Styx and Kansas; the Progressive Metal of Dream Theater, Queensrÿche, and Symphony X; the Goth Metal of Nightwish, Within Temptation, and Epica, and a whole host of other great bands that are too numerous to mention. When he's not listening to music, he watches Sunderland lose more football (soccer) matches than they win, and occasionally, if he has to, he goes to work as a property lawyer.

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