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Rainbow - Live in Munich 1977 Review

by Travis Becker

Never mind today's bloated, mandolin-wielding, Ritchie Blackmore of Blackmore's Night here's Rainbow. Before morphing into another watered down 80's yawn-fest, Rainbow represented the pinnacle of early, bluesy, overblown, Heavy Metal. From the studio triumph of Rainbow Rising to the tight and heavy, Long Live Rock and Roll, Blackmore, along with Ronnie James Dio, created some of the most interesting and technically sound hard Rock in a time when imposters and clones choked the airwaves. Stuck right in the middle of that run of albums was On Stage, an adequate if uninspiring document of Rainbow's exciting stage performance. With the 2006 release of Live in Munich 1977, however, that old document is trumped utterly.

Live in Munich presents Rainbow at the height of their classic form, before great music gave way to grasping attempts at hit singles. The classic lineup is mostly intact, with Blackmore, Dio and Cozy Powell all present and augmented by Bob Daisley and Dave Stone instead of Jimmy Bain and Tony Carey. Similarly, the song selection is mostly the same as well. The title track to Long Live Rock and Roll makes it into the mix as does "Do You Close Your Eyes" from Rising to finish the set, but otherwise, except for some sequencing, it's the same rundown. Just better.

In a much more raw and natural mix, the songs come alive and the improvisation of the band ebbs and flows as it should. The band clearly tinkered with the presentation of On Stage, rerecording parts, unifying the sound, and cleaning up the mistakes, but in the end, the result was a neutered poodle of a Rainbow show by comparison to Live in Munich. Ritchie Blackmore performs, on this album, at his most involved and least bored best. You can almost feel his mind wander, during a seventeen minute version of "Catch the Rainbow", from playing intricately to instinctively. "Man on the Silver Mountain" still features the medley of sorts of that song along with "Starstruck" and some blues noodling, although it isn't credited that way on the sleeve, but still fails to make up for the lack of "Stargazer," their signature live track.

At two discs and right around one hundred minutes, Live in Munich presents a full concert set with the band stretching out and jamming away, but doesn't go on so long that listening to it in its entirety proves to be a chore. Quite the contrary, the twenty-five minute rendition of "Still I'm Sad" let's the band go through its paces, giving each member some time to solo, but doesn't get too tiring. Even Dio gets some time to himself on "Long Live Rock and Roll" as he showcases his mastery of traditional lead-singer-to-audience banter.

The release of Live in Munich 1977, which is also available as a DVD (worth buying just because of the giant rainbow arcing over the stage), should finally satisfy all fans of Rainbow itching for a more accurate portrait of the band at the peak of its powers. This release replaces On Stage entirely as the definitive live album for Ritchie Blackmore and Rainbow. Essential either as a first Rainbow purchase or to complete a collection.

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Rainbow - Live in Munich 1977

Label:Eagle Rock, 2006

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