Another album released on the magical date 7/7/77, is Rainbow's double "On Stage".
The story of this album begins with recordings of the band's third album "Long Live Rock 'n' Roll".
As you may recall, the recording of the album was accompanied by many difficulties. The album was recorded at a castle in the Paris area, the band members did not have finished materials and the writing process for most of the album's songs was performed at the castle itself, the recordings did not progress satisfactorily, among other things due to the band members not concentrating on writing and enjoying the beautiful place and weather. In addition, the recordings were surrounded by strange faults in the recording equipment and unexplained phenomena until the band members and the recording team decided to perform a séance to find out the reason for it. And if that's not enough, because of Ritchie Blackmore's caprices, the band members were replaced several times during the recordings.
All of the above problems and significant delays in the recordings caused the record company to put pressure on the band. and that brought this great gift called "On Stage".
This live album has a lot in common with the mother band ("Deep Purple") "Made In Japan" album. This is also a double album that was not recorded on one complete show, but rather songs recorded over several performances. In addition, here too, most of the songs were recorded in Japan and like its older brother here too the show includes a lot of improvisations. And if you still do not understand how much the similarities between the two albums exist, then also in this album songs with "thin" versions in the studio albums have won bombastic versions that are substantially different from the original.
But so far the similarities.
This album does not really reflect what happened in the band's performances. It included massive editing and studio intervention that undermined the authenticity of the live performances. What's more, the songs were shortened, solo pieces were compressed and improvisations were cut, all to allow for the release of this album as a double vinyl. But this is not enough, masterpiece songs that were part of the setlist on those shows, were not included in the album at all and the order of the songs was changed to adapt the album to the logistical and technical requirements. For example, works such as "Do You Close Your Eyes" and "Stargazer", which were played in performances at the time, did not find their way to the final edit.
Luckily, years later several performances from the same time were released, both on video and audio, so this magic can be recreated in a way closer to the original. An excellent example is the performance "Live In Koln 1976" in which you can also find the songs that were cut as part of the final editing of this album.
The choice of songs for the album was also strange. Four of the six songs on the show are from the band's first album, with the excellent album "Rising", being represented by only one song, "Starstruck", also not one of the greats of that album, which is part of a medley along with the blues section and the song "Man on the Silver Mountain". Among the six songs is also the song "Mistreated" from the MKIII of "Deep Purple", and another new song that will only be included on the band's next album, so what we have left to do is just wonder what went through Blackmore's mind when compiling the song list for this album.
Despite all that said and perhaps against all odds, this is still an excellent album by a band that is at its peak with its classic lineup that includes Ritchie Blackmore, Ronnie James Dio, Cozy Powell, Tony Carey, and Jimmy Bain.
The album opens with the famous segment from the film "The Wizard of Oz", which has also become the regular opening intro of the band's performances, for generations. Dorothy talks to her dog, Toto, and says:
"Toto, I'm a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore, We Must Be Over the RAINBOW…"
And then ... the legendary Cozy Powell lands a powerful blow on the snare drum, and we all embark on an adventure that not even the writer L. Frank Baum dreamed of when he first wrote his book on the controversial magician. "Kill The King" which is to be included on the band's next album is coming in full force, and we are getting a bombastic opening for this live album. Although the version of the show sounds a little less tight than the studio version, it is still a strong opening that requires a lot of courage of opening a live album with a new and unfamiliar song.
From there we move on to the string of the "Man On The Silver Mountain" which includes a bluesy improvisation with a keyboard guitar duet in the best tradition of "Deep Purple", as well as "Starstruck" from the album "Rising" which is shortened here.
The other side of the first album includes the song "Catch the Rainbow" which received an upgrade here and became an epic work. This is without a doubt the album's powerful performance, which although stretched over more than 15 minutes is not boring even for a moment. The improvisations of the band members are reinforced with vocal improvisations from Ronnie James Dio mostly in the last part of the piece that becomes a fifth instrument of the band.
The second album features the song "Mistreated" by "Deep Purple" which is spread out on the entire first side of the album. Dio manages to take a song that is so identified with David Coverdale's voice and perform it amazingly. Here, too, the improvisations stretch over a large part of the song (mostly by Blackmore) only this time it's a little less flowing than the previous song.
The fourth and final side of this double album concludes with two songs: "Sixteenth Century Greensleeves" featuring a long improvised overture, and the cover version "Still I'm Sad" which became a song with the original lyrics from "the Yardbirds" as appose to the instrumental album version.
In conclusion, despite the rather puzzling selection of songs, despite the over-intervention during the mixes and production, this is still an excellent album that perpetuates the band's highlights in the classic lineup. The long improvisations and "facelift" of the songs do not detract in any way from the pleasure of listening to the album. On the contrary, all we have left is to miss those days, when bands were improvising, jamming, and giving the songs a different interpretation as part of their performances. There are no artists today who appear like this anymore, no one is as spontaneous, innovative, and brave as they were in those days, and all that is left is to just cut and save this wonder so that future generations will understand how they used to make music, with a big heart and soul.