Rainbow

Anthology

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Few bands in the history of hard rock/heavy metal shifted stylistic gears as abruptly as Rainbow did. And unlike some veteran acts that attempt this makeover and only draw the wrath of their already-built audience, Rainbow enjoyed further chart success after the switch. Case in point, the 2009 double-disc set, Anthology, in which two contrasting styles -- medieval metal and radio-friendly rock -- are gloriously on display throughout. Immediately after splitting from Deep Purple in early 1975, guitarist Ritchie Blackmore enlisted the help of the then-largely unknown singer Ronnie James Dio, and issued a trio of albums that are basically a 101 course on the aforementioned medieval metal style. In other words, lots of swords-and-sorcery imagery (which would eventually become Dio's trademark), epic compositions, organ/synth vs. guitar battles, etc. And some of metal's all-time great tracks were composed as a result, tops being "Man on the Silver Mountain" (one of the best tracks that either Blackmore or Dio has ever been a part of), as well as "Stargazer" and the Jimi Hendrix-influenced"Catch the Rainbow" (which lyrically, is almost a carbon copy of Hendrix's "Little Wing"). After Dio's exit (to sign on as Ozzy Osbourne's replacement in Black Sabbath), singer Graham Bonnet briefly signed on -- lasting only one album -- and bridging the two aforementioned styles that Rainbow is synonymous with, with another metallic off-shoot approach...party metal! For the sonic proof, check out "Since You've Been Gone," while one of this set's biggest errors is including a live version of another Bonnet-era classic, "All Night Long," with his subsequent replacement, Joe Lynn Turner, on vocals (tsk, tsk, tsk). And it was upon Turner's arrival as lead vocalist that Rainbow embarked on their last stylistic speciality -- radio-friendly melodic rock, obviously constructed with the aim of doing battle with such then-chart toppers as Journey and Foreigner, as evidenced by such tracks as "Stone Cold," "I Surrender," and "Street of Dreams." All in all, most of the expected Rainbow classics are included on Anthology. However, with the omission of such standouts as "Starstruck" and "Long Live Rock N' Roll," as well as the botch job of including a lame latter-day live version of "All Night Long" rather than the definitive original studio version, Anthology is prevented from being a true all-you-need-in-your-collection type release.

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