Rainbow On Stage – Classic Album Review

Rediscovering the Majesty of Rainbow On Stage: A Nostalgic Journey

In 1977, Rainbow released “On Stage,” a live album that not only showcased Ritchie Blackmore’s guitar wizardry but also captured a pivotal moment in rock history. I’ve had the privilege of experiencing this album in various formats over the years, each listen reigniting the awe I felt when I first encountered it. Today, I want to share with you the journey of “Rainbow On Stage,” its significance in the Rainbow and Blackmore canon, and why it remains such a favourite for fans alike

Released on July 15, 1977, “Rainbow On Stage” arrived at a time when the music landscape was undergoing seismic shifts. Punk was on the rise, challenging the status quo and threatening to dethrone the so-called “dinosaur bands.” Yet, Rainbow, led by the enigmatic Ritchie Blackmore, stood firm, delivering performances that were nothing short of electrifying. The album, peaking at number 11 in the charts, was a testament to the band’s stature and the enduring appeal of hard rock.

My first encounter with “On Stage” was at a rock disco, where the DJ played “Mistreated” from an advance copy. The track, with its turbocharged intro and Dio’s commanding vocals, was simply jaw dropping. It was clear that Blackmore’s playing had evolved, becoming more intricate and expressive. The live rendition of “Catch the Rainbow,” in particular, showcased his ability to weave melodies that were both powerful and poignant, a masterclass in guitar improvisation.

Over the years, I’ve amassed various versions of “On Stage,” from the original vinyl to CD reissues and deluxe editions. Each format offers a unique listening experience, with remasters revealing the depth and complexity of the performances. The 1990 “Connoisseur Collection” and the 2012 deluxe edition, for example, provided insights into the tour and the band’s dynamics, enriching the album’s legacy.

“Rainbow On Stage” was a snapshot of the band at their peak. The decision to release a live album after only two studio albums was unconventional, yet it captured the essence of Rainbow’s live prowess. The absence of “Stargazer” and “Light in the Black” from the tracklist was a point of contention for fans, but the album’s raw energy and Blackmore’s solos more than compensated for these omissions.

Reflecting on “Rainbow On Stage” in 2024, it’s clear that the album is a cornerstone of rock history. It represents a time when musicianship and live performance were paramount, and when bands like Rainbow could captivate audiences with their skill and passion. As we navigate the digital age, where live music faces new challenges, “On Stage” serves as a reminder of the power of live rock and the timeless appeal of Rainbow’s music.

Rainbow On Stage is a portal to a bygone era of rock music. It showcases Ritchie Blackmore’s unparalleled talent and Rainbow’s contribution to the rock canon. For those who have yet to discover this live masterpiece, I urge you to give it a listen and experience the magic of Rainbow on stage.

Phil Aston | Now Spinning Magazine

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