Rainbow featuring Ritchie Blackmore and Ronnie James Dio – Live In Munich (2013)

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At the time, punk was thought of as the fast and rough stuff, with classic rock geezers like Ritchie Blackmore already relegated to the dustbin of history. Hardly. Rainbow’s molten Live in Munich, recorded in 1977, zips along at a blinding pace.

All these years — and a couple of previous reissues later — Live in Munich 1977 (due in remastered form on April 30, 2013, from Eagle Rock) still stands as one of the most stunning achievements in a career filled with them for Blackmore, as the former Deep Purple co-founder is joined here by an in-his-absolute-prime Ronnie James Dio and drummer Cozy Powell as part of a signature lineup for Rainbow.

From their mind-bending introduction, to the strains of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” this concert boasts an almost unmatchable energy and fire: To say “Kill the King” storms out is a insult to large, damaging weather systems. Rainbow attacks this song — which would later appear on 1978’s Long Live Rock ‘n’ Roll — with a white-knuckle fury. “Catch the Rainbow,” given an 18-minute re-examination after its appearance on Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow in 1975, slowly builds from a darkly beautiful opening toward a tornadic whirl of sound.

Meanwhile, Long Live’s title track as never stomped with more thunderous authority. They do similar numbers on “Man on the Silver Mountain” and the Yardbirds’ “Still I’m Sad,” both originally found on the group’s self-titled debut.

Even a return to an old Deep Purple song, “Mistreated” from 1974’s Burn, is an exercise in coiled aggression. Blackmore unleashes a torrent of feedback-laden riffs before Dio takes over, attacking David Coverdale’s original lyric with a lusty determination. “Sixteenth Century Greensleeves,” which might have seen a definitive reading on Rainbow’s otherwise rather lackluster 1977’s concert offering On Stage, comes alive in this fizzy new atmosphere.

The unquestioned high point, for me, arrives with a final, galloping reading of “Do You Close Your Eyes,” originally from 1976’s Rainbow Rising. Once the shortest track on that seminal studio effort, “Eyes” is pushed and pulled on for some 16 minutes here — until Rainbow ultimately strips it bare of Blackmore’s neo-classical ideas, not to mention Dio’s emerging fascination with fantasy themes, to reveal a floorboard-rearranging take-home blast of heavy-grooving noise.

I’m sorry. The Sex Pistols had nothing on this.

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Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso has written for USA Today, American Songwriter, All About Jazz, and a host of others. Honored as columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section named Top 10 in the U.S. by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Nick is now associate editor of Ultimate Classic Rock.
Nick DeRiso
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