Pawed by Mott the Dog
re-mastered by Ella Crew
After over eight years in the world’s premier hard rock
band Deep Purple, the mercurial Ritchie Blackmore had enough and left after an
emotional European tour. In Blackmore’s view by that time they had become five
egotistical maniacs - not a team.
The final straw for Ritchie was when the rest of the band
refused to record a cover of Qutermass’ ‘Black Sheep of the Family’. So
after recording the song in the studio without the other members of Purple’s
support band ‘Elf’, Blackmore had no hesitation in handing in his notice
playing the final dates, and embarking on his journey to find hard rocking gold
at the end of his rainbow.
Blackmore wasted no time in taking ‘Elf’ into the studio
(apart obviously now redundant lead guitarist Steve Edwards, who was immediately
dropped - a bit of a Pete Best situation here) and recorded the album of his
dreams with his new band mates. The album was released in August of 1975 and
reached the lower reaches of the British charts, and without ‘Deep Purple’
‘Moniker’ did not even make a dent in the vastly important American Charts.
Worse was to follow.
The new band didn’t live up to Blackmore’s standards as a
live unit although they had great songs from the new album (e.g.: ‘Catch the
Rainbow’, ‘Sixteenth Century Greensleeves’, a cover of the old Yardbirds
classic ‘Still I’m Sad’, and the all time favorite ‘Man on a Silver
Mountain’, which is still one of the most requested songs in Ronnie James
Dio’s and Ritchie Blackmore’s set today, although both play it very
different ways). So the first of Blackmore’s Stalinist like purges in Rainbow
Out went drummer Gary Driscoll, never to be heard from again.
Rainbow perhaps being one step too far for this journeyman drummer. Also cast
aside were bassist Craig Gruber, who ended up in Gary Moore’s band for a
while, and keyboard player Mickey Lee Soule, who perhaps lowered his sights a
little and is Deep Purple’s keyboard technician to this day.
Blackmore kept the wonderful pipes of the diminutive Ronnie
James Dio as he had the charisma necessary to pull it off on stage, and had
already forged a writing partnership with Blackmore, matching his tales of
ancient times, wizardry, and magic to Blackmore’s riff’s. (He only lasted
two more studio albums before incurring his master’s wrath, but that gave him
three years in the spotlight. So he left for two wonderful albums with Black
Sabbath, a legacy. He lives off to this day with his solo career, where his
albums often surpass his previous employer’s in the heavy metal stakes.) To
complete the new lineup Blackmore called upon the services of long time cohort,
powerhouse drummer Cozy Powell. Powell was just coming off a surprising year as
a pop star after a string of drum orientated Top 10 single hits. Before Powell
had been with Britain’s other bad boy guitarist Jeff Beck.
Cozy Powell stayed with Rainbow for five years making him the
second longest lasting member of the band after Blackmore. Perhaps his time with
Beck had forearmed him. Whatever, his spectacular and solid drumming gave
Blackmore the rock on which to build his band.
Tony Carey, an undoubted keyboard genius, was whisked away
from his undistinguished country band from L.A ‘Blessing’, and gave
Blackmore the musical sparring partner he had been missing since leaving Jon
Lord from his Deep Purple days.
Then Ritchie Blackmore went to see his old mate Ricky Munro
(they had played together in a band called ‘Mandrake Root’ in Germany in
1967 - a bit of trivia for all you Harry Potter fans) at the Marquee, where he
was playing with a band called ‘Harlot’, liked his bass player and promptly
asked him to join ‘Rainbow’. This completed ‘Rainbow’ and finished off
So all back to the studio and this time not only did they
come out with a bunch of great songs, but they sounded like a band. The band was
now just known as ‘Rainbow’, dropping the Blackmore reference, and simply
calling the album ‘Rising’.
Laying down new templates for hard rock the album starts with
‘Tarot Woman’. First Carey softens you up with a spacey keyboard intro
before Blackmore comes in with one of his customized battering riffs before Bain
and Powell come in on top to hammer the song into your brain. This all before
Dio has a chance to sing the first verse. Then both Blackmore and Carey get the
chance to show their chops on their solos before dueling out to bring the song
to its close.
‘Run with the Wolf’ is a typical Blackmore call to arms,
which would get any Army on its feet. ‘Stargazer’ is the first real classic
in the running order. It literally bounces out of the speakers and could only be
performed with such fine musicians. To hear a drummer at his absolute best, just
have a listen to Cozy Powell on this album or on any of the two live albums from
this lineup (‘On Stage’ or ‘Live in Germany’ from 1977). This is
followed by ‘Do you Close Your Eyes’, here in a 3-minute version, which
shows some of Ritchie Blackmore’s more modern influences. With its Yardbirds
type feel, this song was often extended out to 15 minutes in their live set.
The last two songs go into the category of all time classic
hard rock epics. Especially ‘Stargazer’, clocking in at over 8 minutes in
length, won by a country mile as the most popular ‘Rainbow’ song on the
‘Rainbow’ website for fans. The band is allowed full reign to show off their
prowess. Blackmore pulling off a solo that was to overshadow anything he had
ever previously done, and with the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra in full flow
supporting the 5-piece band, the sound is nothing short of exhilarating.
The climax of the set is brought to a thrilling conclusion by
over eight action packed minutes of ‘A Light in the Black’ with some
sensational dueling between Carey and Blackmore. Some more powerhouse rhythm
work from Bain and Powell while Dio shows us all the way home.
‘Rising’ remains one of the greatest milestones in heavy
Ritchie Blackmore - Lead Guitar
Ronnie James Dio - Vocals
Tony Carey - Keyboards
Cozy Powell - Drums
Jimmy Bain - Bass
Run With The Wolf
Do You Close Your Eyes
Light in The Black
To contact Mott the Dog email: [email protected]