Rainbow - On Stage
Yet, I have to say despite the criticisms, it is full of excellent material, with "Kill The King" being a better version than the studio version, as is "Man On The Silver Mountain" and above all "Catch the Rainbow" which really does come into its own live and is a vast improvement on the rather tepid version which is found on their debut studio album. Nevertheless, what this album lacks is content, and would have benefited by having a few more original songs on it. That could only have happened if the album had come out later in the band's career.
In my view, had Rainbow released this album any later it would not have been a success. As it was, rumours that the band were planning on releasing a live double album so soon after the release of their successful second album, Rising, sparked a rush of anticipation among fans. Coming on the back of what was, without doubt, their finest album, made it perfect timing to release a live album as, had they released it any later, the poorer quality material of subsequent albums may have resulted in a loss of momentum.
For example, Long Live Rock and Roll, their third studio album, was a huge disappointment. It had a cheesy title, silly art work and lacked punch throughout. There is scarcely a single decent track on the album and had Rainbow released a live album after its release, not much of the material would have made it. Later even than that, and it would have been worse still. By releasing a live album straight after the epic Rising they managed to create a classic before they began their slide downhill. Any later, and the album would have been swallowed up in the wake of the punk movement which swept away all the established patterns for musical success and the rock dinosaurs, such as Rainbow, which personified it.
The trouble is, I cannot decide which of these two theories is actually the more plausible. When I like this album, I find it classic rock material. Proof, if ever one needed it, when listening to the live versions of tracks which appeared on the first album, that the best live albums sound better than their studio counterparts. But when I dislike it, I really do dislike it. I resent paying so much money for such a lack of material. I resent the fact this seems to have been rushed out to grab market share in time for Christmas sales. I resent the fact that Blackmore felt all he had to do was issue an album and it would justify all that he had done. Even now, thirty years later, my ambivalence has not decreased.
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