Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Rainbow - 2007 - Live in Munich 1977

Live in Munich 1977

101. Kill the King (4:38)
102. Mistreated (11:03)
103. Sixteenth Century Greensleeves (8:21)
104. Catch the Rainbow (17:31)
105. Long Live Rock 'n' Roll (7:33)

201. Man on the Silver Mountain (14:37)
202. Still I'm Sad (25:16)
203. Do You Close Your Eyes (9:37)

- Ritchie Blackmore / Guitar
- Ronnie James Dio / Vocals
- Cozy Powell / Drums
- Bob Daisley / Bass
- David Stone / Keyboards

Recorded at Munich Olympiahalle, Germany, 20th October 1977.

 If you're not familiar with Rainbow... then you're missing out. Led by Ritche Blackmore and the incomparable Ronnie James Dio, the group is a high-point in late '70's classic rock (with a sprinkling of prog), and Live in Munich 1977 does a great job of capturing the energy and raw power of these hard rock titans. This live album is jam-packed with extended songs, front-man banter, super charged soloing, and a throaty, raw, fist-pumping spectacle. If you're a fan of the band, then this is probably THE live album you should get.
"Kill the King" opens the album like pulling chord on a recoil start motor that revs up hard and will shake your high-fi to pieces. A great hard-rock song with killer musicianship and enthusiastic vocals. The production is crisp enough for us to hear the each player very well, but coarse enough for us to feel the feedback-heavy fuzz of the actual show. Very authentic.

"Mistreated" is the first example of opening up the space of a song for extended improvisation. It's an epic song packed with guitar solos and builds to a dynamic close that ends up sounding almost like a grand finale to the concert... but it's just getting started. This continues throughout the show, with lengthier versions of "Greensleeves," "Catch the Rainbow," "Man on the Silver Mountain," and "Still I'm Sad." The band plays most of their top songs, but there are a few gaps, such as the lauded "Stargazer," which is often thought of as their most progressive piece.

For the most part these extended tracks are effective and varied. At times it breaks down to instrumental noodling, but it never completely drifts away from the gravely intensity for long. For example, "Catch the Rainbow" builds a sensitive calm mid way through before shattering it in a grand finale; likewise, "Still I'm Sad" gives Cozy Powell two (!) drum solos before transitioning into the "Great Gates of Kiev." Epic, but not without a few spaces that say "time to use the restroom" during the playful instrumental spaces.

All in all, Live in Munich 1977 is an awesome example of hard-rock at its finest, a showcase for Ritchie Blackmore's ambitious guitar playing, and a great experience overall. Get it, turn it up to 11, love it. A must have for fans of this excellent classic rock group.

After releasing the successful and influential Rising, Rainbow were at the peak of their artistic careers. Moreover, at the point the concert in Munich took place the band had also recorded most songs from Long Live Rock ‘n’ Roll. Therefore, the set list for a live performance had unlimited potential. In Munich, the band played 4 songs from their first album, only 1 from Rising, 2 from the upcoming Long Live Rock ‘n’ Roll and covered Deep Purple’s Mistreated.

The concert begins with a great performance of Kill the King; the forefather of power metal, unreleased at the time. Speedy, filled with great riffs and arpeggios and unknown at the time. Amazingly, this is the only song which is almost identical to its studio version.

Next comes Mistreated, originally included in Deep Purple’s Burn album. It begins with a solo from Ritchie but the standout is Dio’s powerful and melodic performance. Dio approaches this song differently than Coverdale’s bluesy manner. Even though both versions are great, Dio adds an epic dimension to the song which I prefer.

16th Century Greensleeves starts with the traditional English folk song (Greensleeves) performed by Ritchie before he plays the great riff we all know and love. The way Blackmore fuses these two songs is splendid. Needless to say, this song is far superior to the studio version. Nevertheless, it makes me wonder if the Blackmore’s Night project was in his mind since then.

Catch the Rainbow follows and the atmosphere is deeply emotional as Ronnie James Dio puts on a top notch vocal performance while Blackmore adds some great solos to the song which make it more soulful and rich. The whole band improvises on a 17:30 minute epic. The highlight of the song is the amazing climax that leads to an intense guitar solo.

Long Live Rock ‘n’ Roll adds some party mood to the concert as we can listen to Dio’s communication skills while he interacts with the German audience as he prompts them to participate by singing the chorus.

Man on the Silver Mountain is where Blackmore shows off his blues skills with some great licks and Dio accompanies him with his mellow singing. The band manages to blend seamlessly blues with hard rock while making a minor reference to Lady Starstruck.

Still I’m Sad serves as an improvisation platform for all band members but mostly Dave Stone, the band’s keyboard player. The song begins with an atmospheric organ solo while Dio puts in an enchanting vocal performance that missed from the album recording. Cozy Powell shows off his drumming skills while Bob Daisley provides some solid bass lines. Nevertheless, there are points where I feel that the guys seem to lose focus by trying to impress the audience or as Blackmore used to say to his fellow band members “try to push each other off the stage”.

Lastly, the concert finishes with the only song from Rising, Do you Close Your Eyes? The atmosphere is highly celebratory but the band still sounds tight. Blackmore, in a typical fashion back then, plays guitar with his feet and destroys a couple of Stratocasters as the night comes to a close under the sounds of Over the Rainbow.

Overall, this is a better live recording than On Stage and can even be considered a classic rock live album. It’s a purely electrifying live performance without studio tweaks which only adds to the wonderful feeling of a Rainbow concert. Its only drawback is the lack of more songs from Rising such as Stargazer or Light in the Black. On the other hand, Blackmore never seemed to be predictable (or even stable). However, he proves once more that when he is in the mood to play some music (rather than sitting in a dark bar drinking ale) he is the prototype of guitar hero and a brilliant showman.

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