Rainbow - Down to Earth
On July 28, 1979, Rainbow's "Down to Earth" album was released.
This is the band's fourth studio album and its first without Ronnie James Dio, which was replaced by Graham Bonnet, at the time a fairly anonymous singer who would later also be part of the bands "Michael Schenker Group" and "Alcatrazz".
The story of the album actually begins after the release of the previous album, "Long Live Rock 'n' Roll". After the release of the album, the band went on a tour and during it, Ritchie Blackmore and Ronnie James Dio began to discuss the band's future and musical direction. Blackmore wanted to take the band in a more commercial direction, but Dio disagreed with the new line Blackmore was trying to impose on the band. The professional disputes between Blackmore and Dio over the band's musical direction eventually led to the departure of Ronnie James Dio from the band.
In December 1978, Ritchie Blackmore begins to write the material for the album in his home. By this time he was already fired bassist Bob Daisley and keyboardist David Stone, so the only player left from the band from the previous album was legendary drummer Cozy Powell.
Blackmore recruited Roger Glover, his longtime friend from "Deep Purple", to the position of producer and at the same time began auditioning to fill the positions of the rest of the band members.
The first to join the band was keyboardist Don Airey, known for his work with Ozzy Osbourne and later with Deep Purple. As for the role of the singer, several auditions were held but Blackmore did not like any of them. At one point Ritchie Blackmore even considered Ian Gillan as the lead singer, but he ended up following Roger Glover's recommendation of Graham Bonnet that immediately was called to audition. This audition is well engraved in Glover's memory. He remembers that Graham Bonnet was supposed to sing the masterpiece "Mistreated." Bonnet did not know the song and when the band started playing the intro Bonnet was at the other end of the room away from the microphone. Glover feared that Bonnet did not know when he should enter and that he was going to miss it, but as soon as it was time to start singing Bonnet jumped from the edge of the room and roared into the microphone. Everyone was shocked by his voice, especially Don Airey who immediately stopped playing from the shock. Of course, Bonnet was immediately selected by Ritchie Blackmore to fill the role of "Rainbow's" Lead vocalist.
The bass role was harder to fill to. The band played during rehearsals with studio session player Clive Chaman and later was joined by Jack Green, but he did not last long, until eventually Roger Glover was forced to perform the bass role during the recordings. He was later added to the band as a full member.
It can be said that Ritchie Blackmore was right in choosing the more commercial musical direction, since the album sold very well. It included the band's first successful single, "Since You Been Gone" written by former Argent guitarist Russ Ballard, a song that indeed best illustrates the band's new musical direction and the reason for Dio's departure. Another hit from the album is the famous "All Night Long" whose opening riff is very reminiscent of the classic riff of "Man On the Silver Mountain" from the band's first album - "Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow".
Despite the commercial direction this album has taken, there are still sparks of the old and beloved Rainbow, as in the song "Eyes of the World" which is very reminiscent of Dio's "Rising" period.
Other notable songs are "Love's No Friend", "Danger Zone", and "Lost in Hollywood", all on the other side of the vinyl which turns out to be the better side of the two.
Although this is a good album with a crazy lineup of musicians, and although Graham Bonnet's voice is noteworthy, in our opinion it still pales in comparison to the Ronnie James Dio albums.