Sunday, April 19, 2015

Rainbow - Rising

I still listen to college radio sometimes and it's funny that something that I once considered to essentially be it when it came to musical knowledge and coolness isn't quite what I used to think it was.  It's probably always been that way, but just over the last week I heard two DJ's get something wrong that I thought was such common knowledge that I actually remember the things they said.  That's saying something, too.  I often can't remember the name of the song they were playing when I thought, "I gotta get that album!"  They probably didn't make any bigger mistakes than kids have been making for their entire lives, but for some reason it just stuck in my mind this week.

The first was a show where the guy plays primarily 70's guitar boogie and blues rawk and that kind of over bloated guitar wankery that a lot of people can't stand these days.  I still like a lot of it, but I'm weird like that.  This guy just played a song by Chicken Shack, and I couldn't remember who the band was, but I knew the song.  So he starts talking about finding this Chicken Shack album somewhere and he says he likes it so far, but that he didn't know anyone in the band and didn't think any of them went on to any fame.  I'm thinking, "Dude...Stan Webb.  Stan Webb is Chicken Shack and that's where Christine McVie came from."  This is all old shit nowadays, though.  I'm okay with the guy not knowing about Christine, but Stan Webb was one of those B-list guitar players from the 70's that everyone had a friend that thought that he was the shit and had all of the guy's albums.  Like Frank Marino or Robin Trower.

The other one was just today when the woman that was a DJ was talking about the songs she had played and saying what albums they came from (a couple were Greatest Hits albums, so I thought she could have pulled up the Google there), and she said she had played a song by Blondie, and referred to Blondie as "she."  I'm so old I remember ads where they said Blondie is a Group.  I mean, most people don't know that Debbie Harry's name isn't Blondie I suppose, but there was a time when a college DJ wouldn't have been wrong on that one.

I don't want to act like kids these days are stupid, because I don't think they are.  I do think that they have had so much available to them for nothing for so long now, that they never had the record box with just a dozen records and a whole Saturday night to just sit and listen to those same twelve records over and over and read the covers and learn about all there was to learn there.  I'm not saying that's a bad thing or a good thing, but I think it is a thing.  One of the odd things here is that these two DJ's are both doing what are considered oldies shows now, so I'm cutting them some slack there just for being interested in the music that had scenes even though they weren't quite underground and they weren't quite the dominant A listers, either.  That's the stuff that really falls through the cracks, ya know?  Stuff that was kind of popular.

Which is what got me to pull out Rainbow Rising.  Hey, we all knew who Ritchie Blackmore was because he was in Deep Purple.  We knew Cozy Powell played with Jeff BeckRonnie James Dio was less known, but man, the dude can really sing this kind of stuff.  I pretty much think this is the best Rainbow album, and I always have.  Side two has the longer tunes, Stargazer and A Light in the Black and those are kind of like a modern take on Blackmore's old band, Deep Purple.  I've always felt that when the drums and bass get a real chance to lay down a fast, hard beat that Blackmore is pretty hard to beat as a guitar player. he can riff with the best of them and his solo's all kind of sound the same, but it's just a really great solo, ya know?  The first side has shorter songs, of which the best one is probably Starstruck, and I think that's mostly because of what Dio puts into it.

I saw Rainbow once and Blackmore broke a string during the first or second song and stormed off to pout for the rest of the show while his guitar tech stood in the shadows and played all Blackmore's parts and I gotta tell ya, I didn't miss him at all.  Dio carried off the whole thing anyway.  He didn't even seem to need Ritchie (and a few years later he pretty much owned the world of heavy metal) and I really liked the show.

My record is in nice shape.  I don't remember where it's from, and I've had it for decades but I don't think it's a 1976 pressing.  It's in a plastic inner sleeve and there's a barcode sticker on the back corner, which could just mean I bought it used from a place that did that, but I kind of doubt it.  It's nice and flat and plays nice.  It's not the kind of thing I listen to all the time, because it's a little overblown for me, but when I do listen to it, I really enjoy it.  Rainbow certainly lost a lot when Dio left, even though I think they sold a lot of records later on.