Rainbow - Rising
On May 15, 1976, "Rising", Rainbow's second album, was released.
This is without a doubt "Rainbow's" most balanced album and some argue that it is the band's best. What is certain is that this album is still considered a milestone in the history of hard rock and metal, With a clear impact on the sub-genres Power, Symphonic, Prog and even Speed Metal. Readers of the famous "Kerrang!" magazine even chose it in October 1981 as the best heavy metal album of all time.
The story of the album recording begins with the end of the recording of the band's successful debut album, simply called "Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow". The musicians on the debut album were all from the ELF band, which also included singer Ronnie James Dio. Guitarist Ritchie Blackmore was not happy with the performance of the line-up that included ELF members, so he refused to go on tour with them. Immediately after recording the debut album, Blackmore fired all the band members except Dio, and recruited new musicians, masters of instruments each in his own field. Keyboardist Tony Carey, bassist Jimmy Bain, and legendary drummer Cozy Powell, whose powerful drumming will impact the band's sound.
With this new lineup "Rainbow'" embarked on their first tour starting in Montreal in November 1975 and during that time the band began writing material for their second album "Rising".
In February 1976 the band went on to record the album, which was recorded in Munich Germany in less than a month, under the watchful eye of "super" producer Martin Birch. Drummer Cozy Powell said in a 1996 interview that most of the album's songs were recorded in one or two takes, which is probably also why no demo versions or early recordings of songs from the album can be found.
Known as a freak of control, Blackmore gave the new band members, in a completely uncharacteristic move, musical freedom of action, and this was expressed both in terms of content and sound, fundamentally different from the previous album, more compact, dynamic, and aggressive.
Proof of the freedom of action given to the musicians can be found already at the opening of the album, in the song "Tarot Woman" which opens with an intro synthesizer, long, wild and dramatic, long before Blackmore's riffs segment and break it out into a fade-out into the song.
From there we move on to the song "Run With The Wolf" which has a "groovy-bluesy" sound that is a bit reminiscent of what Coverdale and "Whitesnake" will do not long after. Blackmore's guitar work here is noteworthy, the drumming of Cozy Powell is heavy and steady and the sound of a dominant and powerful Dio. At this point, the listener should already be beginning to understand that this is an excellent and quality album.
The song "Starstruck" continues the groovy line of its predecessor and is also the best song on the first side of the album. Blackmore's catchy riffs, Carrie's "Jon Lord" ish organ, and Dio's powerful vocals sound the closest to Deep Purple that "Rainbow" will ever hear. The song was written about a Blackmore fan named Muriel who was his "stalker" for a very long time.
The track that seals the first side of the album "Do You Close Your Eyes", is also the shortest on the album. A direct and focused number that includes a simple but incredibly catchy reef of Blackmore.
The other side of the vinyl includes only 2 songs, and it opens with one of Rainbow's great tracks and arguably the most prominent track on the album - "Stargazer". The song opens with an intro of thunderous and rolling drumming from the legendary Cozy Powell and from there develops into an epic work of over eight minutes, featuring progressive-oriental elements.
The mystical lyrics were written by Dio and they tell the legend of a sorcerer who obsessively longs to fly and enslaves a huge army of people so that they can build a tower for him, from which he can take off and fly. The people hope that their slavery will cease, as the construction of the tower takes place in very difficult conditions (In the heat and rain, with whips and chains). Eventually, the sorcerer climbs to the top of the tower, but instead of soaring up he falls and finds his death like any other mortal. By the way, in the lyrics you can also find a hint of the name of the band and the album in the sentence: Look at his tower of stone I see a rainbow rising, and indeed the rainbow is "shone" in this album and song.
Interesting that the original melody of the song was written on cello. Blackmore, who at the time was experimenting with cello, began playing the main riff, and the rest is history. Perhaps this is also the reason why the Munich Philharmonic participates in the recording of the song.
The track that seals the album "A Light In the Black" is another long, powerful, and epic section that is a direct sequel to its predecessor, only more rhythmic and powerful. Blackmore's classic intro, Jimmy Bain's stunning baseline, Dio's dynamic voice, and Tony Curry's virtuoso synthesizer solo sweep the song to the end of the album in a powerful climax.
Immediately after the release of the album, the band went on a tour, this time already in a well-formed and well-oiled lineup. Unfortunately, only a small part of the album's songs was included in the setlist in the performances that accompanied the release of the album. "Stargazer" and "Do You Close Your Eyes" were written before the album was recorded and appeared in the setlist of all the band's performances from the end of 75 and during the year 76. "A Light in the Black" which seals the album dropped from the setlist in early 1976 and the song "Starstruck" Got a minimalist and abbreviated version as part of the song "Man on the Silver Mountain".
It can be summed up and said that Rainbow reached the peak of her work and performance on this album. In the 40 years and more since its release, so many masterpieces have been released in hard rock and metal that it is hard to say today that it is a masterpiece. At the same time, it can be said with almost certainty that only a handful of metal albums from the 70's reached the level of compositions and music that Rainbow reached on this album, so in the light of the period in which he came out, this is an almost perfect album. The impact of this album has resonated for decades to this day, and it is also considered by many to be Rainbow's best album.