The Highway Star

Jon Lord - Gemini Suite

4. Dezember 2016 · Audio · andreas · Kein Kommentar

jl-gsBack in 1969, the lineup of Deep Purple had seen a drastic change: Jon Lord, Ritchie Blackmore and Ian Paice split up with singer Rod Evans and bass player Nick Simper and hired the former Episode Six musicians Ian Gillan and Roger Glover to complete the lineup.

One of the first shows to feature the new lineup was the live performance of Jon Lord’s “Concerto For Group and Orchestra”, an ambitious work to unite the different worlds of a rock band and a full orchestra which lay the foundation for Jon Lords career as composer / writer and solo artist. About a year later, the follow-up of the “Concerto” faced the light of day during a live performance at the Royal Festival Hall, again featuring his Deep Purple bandmates and conductor Malcolm Arnold.

Contrary to the “Concerto”, which took more than 40 years to be recorded in a studio, Jon Lord went to the studio in 1971 to record “Gemini Suite” as a studio project. At that time, the rock career of Deep Purple was in full flight and Ian Gillan and Ritchie Blackmore showed no interest in participating in the recording and were replaced by guitar player Albert Lee , multi talented Tony Ashton and singer Yvonne Elliman.

While the “Concerto” had its focus on band and orchestra as a whole, “Gemini Suite” did focus on the different instruments, dedicating a track to guitar, piano, drums, vocals bass guitar and organ respectively.

The first CD release was a straight release in 1987 on Line Records in Germany being the only official (and now long deleted) version until the remastered release on Purple Records more than 20 years later. The 2016 release is not based on any of those previous versions and features new artwork and a new remaster by Rob Cass, based on the original stereo mixes of the album.

Not owning the 2008 remaster, a comparison with the 1987 release shows quite some improvement in sound quality with more details being audible than on the original CD release. Luckily, the remaster doesn’t follow the popular trend of brick-walling every track and preserves the dynamics and overall feel of the original recording. The booklet gives no explaination why the original artwork has been dropped and was replaced by completely new design, but the new foreword by Roger Glover adds some enjoyable pages to the booklet.

Only thing to criticize is the record company did not use a proper Digipak for the release and decided to go with some LP-like fold-out papersleeve instead, resulting in your CD getting the first fingerprints and scratches before even being played.

Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow - Memories in Rock - Live In Germany

30. Oktober 2016 · Audio · andreas · Kein Kommentar

rbr-mirligEver since Ritchie Blackmore speculated about doing a couple of Rainbow shows in 2016, hopes and expectations have lead to very emotional disucssions between fans. To the disappointment of those hoping for one of the former lineups to reunite for the gig, Blackmore didn’t go the easy way and - as often - assembled a new team of musicians to accompany him on this adventure.

The band finally announced consisted of current Blackmore’s Night drummer David Keith, former Blackmore’s Night bass player Bob Nouveau, Blackmore’s Night contributor Jens Johansson and LORDS OF BLACK singer Ronnie Romero, which lead to even more discussions between fans and even former Rainbow members with Joe Lynn Turner claiming the planned lineup will be “a Ritchie Blackmore band, but certainly not Rainbow” overlooking the fact that RAINBOW has always been what Ritchie Blackmore wanted it to be.

Three shows took place, two open air shows in Germany at Loreley and Bietigheim while the third show was staged at the Genting Arena in Birmingham, UK. While the two German shows were recorded on audio and video for a later (November 18, 2016) release, the UK show wasn’t recorded, which is unfortunate as it did not only feature the most consistent band performance of all three evenings but also was the only show featuring “Soldier Of Fortune” and “Burn”.

Sadly, the CD booklet doesn’t explain which song has been taken from from Loreley and which song has been taken from Bietigheim which is odd as the second CD contains some bonus tracks from the “alternative night” (which one?) and introductions like “You wanna sing with me, Loreley?” are still included.

Despite all the discussions about the musicians on stage, the setlist had been the major point of criticism, including way too many DEEP PURPLE songs while leaving out a bunch of Rainbow classics. I won’t repeat details about the performance which have been already covered in my review of the Loreley show, but one of the major surprises on the CD is Jens Johansson which - now being clearly audible - does a far better job than my memories of the show suggested. For a current release, the CD offers an enjoyable sound with clear dynamics and a well-balanced mix between each instrument.

Is “Memories in Rock - Live In Germany” an album worth buying? That’s a question hard to answer. It’s a good live album, but for a band as Rainbow, good just isn’t good enough. There are more impressive live versions of almost every song out there which leaves the group of potential buyers to completists, people being curious how Rainbow sound in 2016 and those who attended at one of the shows now being offered a perfect souvenir.

Monsters Of Rock 2016-06-17

21. Juni 2016 · Konzerte · andreas · Kein Kommentar

It has been quite a while since the last “Monsters of Rock” festivals and so the Rainbow rising again seems to be a perfect opportunity to bring the trademark back to life. Originally advertised as “Ritchie Blackmore´s Rainbow and Guests” the guests revealed shortly after were Thin Lizzy and Manfred Mann’s Earth Band.

According to German newspaper FAZ, about 15.000 fans attended at Loreley which brought the location to its limits: people had to wait for more than half an hour to get into the festival area while slipping on a muddy something that might have been a green field a few days ago and had to wait for ages until being able to leave the parking areas with their cars.

Thin Lizzy

Thin LizzyAs there’s no “real” Thin Lizzy these days, the band performing the songs consists of the two authentic members Scott Gorham on guitar and Darren Wharton on keyboards, accompanied for quite some years by Ricky Warwick on vocals and Damon Johnson handling the second guitar. While Aerosmith is on hold for quite some time, the band members seem to look for interesting side jobs and so the bass spot is taken by Tom Hamilton while the originally announced Mikkey Dee, currently helping out the Scorpions, is replaced by Judas Priest drummer Scott Travis.

Thin Lizzy concentrate on playing well know stuff including “Jailbreak”, “Dancing In The Moonlight”, “Bad Reputation”, “The Boys Are Back In Town” and “Whiskey In A Jar”, surpassing most visitors expectations and leaving quite an impression on the majority of the crowd.

[Thin Lizzy Gallery]

Manfred Mann’s Earth Band

Manfred Mann's Earth BandSecond band of the evening is Manfred Mann’s Earth Band featuring the still “new guy” Robert Hart (although being in the band since 2011) on vocals and a drummer who doesn’t look like Jimmy Copley who’s still listed on the bands official site as being their drummer.

The Earth Band plays a solid set with no big surprises – neither in the songs they choose nor in the solo parts. Especially the first half of the set feels way to relaxed and laid back for being a “Monster of Rock” and so the vibes need until “Blinded By The Light” to catch most of the audience. This might also be caused by the lack of a real frontman. Robert Hart is a good singer and team player, but lacks some of the positive aspects of the lead singer’s disease which you need to enthuse such a large audience.

[Manfred Mann’s Earth Band Gallery]

Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow

RainbowThe announcement of “Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow will be performing the music of Rainbow and Deep Purple” should have already told people there will be some Deep Purple material in the setlist – however using “Highway Star” as first track following the classic Rainbow intro feels like an awkward choice. Singer Ronnie Romero does an OK job on the vocals, but his voice might not fit too well to the MKII vocal parts, a problem Joe Lynn Turner also experienced during the “Slaves and Masters” era. The instrumental section also scores nothing higher than an OK, with especially Jens Johannson staying behind expectations.

Things improve with “Spotlight Kid” as second track, a classic Rainbow tune and the vocals being a perfect match for Ronnie Romeros voice. Same goes for “Mistreated” and “Since You’ve Been Gone”, followed by “Man On The Silver Mountain”, a song which Ronnie Romero dedicates to the original man on the silver mountain – Ronnie Dio.

During the first chords of “Catch The Rainbow” it is already clear that one of the highlights is about to come and the performance offers nothing less than the highlight of the evening. “Difficult To Cure” opens the solo section which ends with “Perfect Strangers”, another Deep Purple tune showing the same weaknesses as “Highway Star” at the beginning of the set.

Next in line is “Child In Time”, a song not played for quite a while by Deep Purple, followed by “Long Live Rock’n’Roll”, a Rainbow tune including some heavy sing-along with the crowd. During an interview prior to the shows Ritchie Blackmore had already announced that the set would include “Stargazer” which follows as the second highlight of the show.

Sadly, when the majority of the audience still is close to heaven on top of the wizard’s tower, a crash landing starts with the final tracks, “Black Night” followed by “Smoke On The Water” – songs played way too often by Deep Purple themselves and any cover band on this planet.

This ends the evening with some mixed feelings.

The lineup consisting of Ritchie Blackmore on guitars, Ronnie Romero on vocals, Jens Johansson on keyboards, Bob Nouveau on bass and David Keith on drums created a memorable night seeing the Rainbow rising again. Besides some glitches and instrumental weaknesses (which are IMHO perfectly normal for a band that is standing together on the big stage for their first show) the time flew and the concert was quite enjoyable.

The setlist on the other hand was disappointing. Leaving out a couple of Rainbow must haves (“Temple Of The King”, “Street Of Dreams”, “Sixteenth Century Greensleeves”, “Kill the King”, “Stone Cold”, …) and playing stuff that Deep Purple still include in every single show feels like a waste of time.

However – being able to experience “Catch The Rainbow” and “Stargazer” live was alone worth the trip to Loreley.

[Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow Gallery]

Deep Purple "In Rock anniversary edition" zerstört sich selbst

25. Mai 2015 · Audio · andreas · Kein Kommentar

Leider ist wohl nicht nur die “Live In Japan” betroffen - auch bei meiner Deep Purple “In Rock anniversary edition" sind inzwischen fast die gleichen Symptome festzustellen:


Von der Mitte ausgehend ist das Plastik mit Sprüngen und Kratzern durchbrochen während ein Großteil der Disc mit kleinen Punkten und einem ölig aussehenden Film überzogen ist.

Der Innenring der betroffenen CD hat die Prägung “EMI UDEN 8340192" und “4-1-2-NL” während eine CD mit der Prägung “EMI UDEN 8340192 @12" und “6-1-4-NL” keine der beschriebenen Symptome aufweist.

Zu dem Thema gibt es auch einen Beitrag auf “The Highway Star” mit größtenteils nicht sehr sachdienlichen Kommentaren.

Deep Purple - Graz 1975

26. Juli 2014 · Audio · andreas · Kein Kommentar

dp-graz1975Back in 1975 Deep Purple MK III were playing their final shows, with the majority of the band and the audience not even knowing. Ritchie Blackmore, unsatisfied with most tracks on the latest Deep Purple album “Stormbringer” collaborated with singer Ronnie James Dio to record a solo single (which grew to an entire album) and finally took the decision to leave Deep Purple and form a new band called Rainbow. During a short touring break before the last of the planned dates, Blackmore informed the management about his decision to leave and the management took the opportinity to bring in the Rolling Stones mobile recording studio to capture the MKIII final shows taking place in Graz, Saarbrücken and Paris.

As the band didn’t break up after Ritchie Blackmore left and the rest of the band continued with Tommy Bolin, the live recordings weren’t published as intended and it took until October 1976 for at least some of the material (the majority taken from the Saarbrücken show) to be released on an heavily edited live album called “Made In Europe”. Another 20 years later, “MK III The Final Concerts” was released, using mostly recordings from Paris with additional five tracks from Graz. In 2001 the Paris show finally got a release in its entirety and another 13 years later the still unpublished songs ”The Gypsy”, “Lady Double Dealer” and “Smoke On The Water” of the Graz show are finally released under the “The Official Deep Purple (Overseas) Live Series” banner.

While the disc starts with quite straight performances of “Burn” (DC: that was the title of the album “Burn”), “Stormbringer” (DC: this is the title of the last album), “The Gypsy” (GH: this one’s called “The Gypsy”) and “Lady Double Dealer” (GH: this is called “Lady double dealer”) the show changes from “Mistreated” (GH: it’s a blues song called “Mistreated”) on with the inclusion of less or more extensive and inspired solo parts. While most of the original MK III stuff is fun to listen to, especially “Smoke On The Water” (DC: this is a song from the album “Made In Japan”) with Glenn Hughes and David Coverdale singing against each other sounds horrible and the inclusion of “Georgia On My Mind” and “With A Little Help From My Friends” during the end of the song sounds misplaced.

It is also audible that Ritchie Blackmore sounds closer to the soon-to-follow Rainbow-days than to the Mark II era, even including bits and pieces of the soon-to-be-released “Still I’m Sad” during the intro to ”You Fool No One” (DC: a song called “You fool no one”). The album concludes with “Space Truckin’” (GH: a song which has been with us quite a while), another MK II tune which sounds mistreated by the MK III vocalists and some strange instrumental parts.

Although it’s good to see at least some new stuff being released from the vaults instead of a record company publishing the same things over and over again, it’s annoying this release of the Graz show is still incomplete and lacks the encores. Hopefully the final product will clarify the reason as the press info doesn’t even mention the show being incomplete.