This is it. The one. The album that got me into rock music.
I first heard this towards the end of 1979, via the older brother of a school friend. I was 13. There was something about the opening keyboard solo that made me stop what I was doing and listen. The keys stopped, and that guitar faded in, then the drums literally kicked the door in. Jesus, what was this?
‘Ride the carousel
And cast a magic spell
You can fly, fly’
Fly? You better believe it. I drifted through ‘Run With The Wolf’, instantly wanted to know more about the Lady ‘Starstruck’, and dealt with what I still think is the album’s weakest track, ‘Do You Close Your Eyes’ (although still better than some albums ‘best tracks’!!).
Then came those drums. That slide down the fret board. That intro. ‘Stargazer’. My previous 13 years hadn’t prepared me for this. Quite simply stunning. I really was blown away by my first listen to this, THE song.
‘High noon, oh I’d sell my soul for water
Nine years worth of breakin’ my back
There’s no sun in the shadow of the wizard
See how he glides, why he’s lighter than air?
Oh I see his face!’
Just over eight minutes later I was a wreck. What had I found here? Something I almost instantly knew my parent wouldn’t like!! And still there was more. ‘A Light In The Black’ came along, another 8 minute plus piece of magic featuring a pounding drum line, stunning guitar work, and stellar lyrics, all overlayed with wonderful keyboards and a thundering bass.
Blackmore and Dio, at the top of their game, Cozy Powell and Jmmy Bain the kind of rhythm section most bands can only dream of, and, in Tony Carey, a much under-rated keyboard player, created one of the most remarkable albums ever made. Rainbow released another 6 albums but none came as close to greatness as this, due in part to Ritchie Blackmore’s constant tinkering with the band, which became a revolving door until the band’s eventual break up in 1983 when Blackmore joined Ian Gillan and co in a reformed Deep Purple. A ‘reformation’ album in 1995 was the last of Rainbow before Blackmore went off and formed Blackmore’s Night with partner Candice Night.
Even then, 13 years old and still wet behind the ears, I knew I had found something special. Some 36 years after that fateful evening, I still play this on a pretty regular basis. It isn’t my all time favourite album (some readers will know what that is, the rest of you will have to wait for to find out), but this is still, to me, one of the greatest albums ever made, and one which, quite literally, changed my life.
Something’s calling me back
Like a light in the black
Yes, I’m ready to go
I’m coming home, home, yeah
I’ve got my way back home
To the sky
There in the sky
I see your star
1. Tarot Woman
2. Run With The Wolf
4. Do You Close Your Eyes
6. A Light In The Black
Ronnie James Dio – vocals
Ritchie Blackmore – guitar
Tony Carey – keyboards
Jimmy Bain – bass
Cozy Powell – drums
Munich Philharmonic Orchestra – Strings, Horn
Fritz Sonnleitner – Concert Master
Rainer Pietsch – Conductor
Produced and mixed by Martin Birch
Recorded at Musicland Studios, Munich, Germany, February 1976