Live in Europe

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Rainbow's Live in Europe is a double album recorded in Germany in 1976. The Rising and On Stage lineup of vocalist Ronnie James Dio, guitarist Ritchie Blackmore, keyboardist Tony Carey, bassist Jimmy Bain, and drummer Cozy Powell is featured here. The liner notes incorrectly describe this as Rainbow's original lineup (it's actually the second), and the listed running times of the songs aren't always accurate either. Just eight songs -- ranging from 5 1/2 minutes to 17 minutes -- are featured. This means lots of guitar workouts for Blackmore, although he shares some of the solo spotlight with Carey and Powell. The bluesy "Mistreated" comes from Deep Purple's David Coverdale era, and Dio embraces it with a melodic growl. (Dio still even sang it with his solo band two decades later.) A whimsical call-and-response portion between Dio's scat singing and Blackmore's guitar blips stands out. "Sixteenth Century Greensleeves" is a powerful song, but Dio's stinging vocals don't settle in until the end. The studio version of "Catch the Rainbow" is gorgeous, and Rainbow does a pretty decent job of recreating it live; the backing vocals are shaky, but Blackmore's varied guitar work carries the load. "Man on the Silver Mountain" is performed a bit too fast -- especially Dio's vocals -- but Blackmore's slow blues riffing in the middle is a treat since he's not a blues-based guitarist. "Stargazer" -- arguably Rainbow's best overall song -- is marvelous. Live in Europe and On Stage are nearly identical in their song choices -- not surprising since they were both recorded on the same tour -- but the former adds "Stargazer" and "Do You Close Your Eyes" while the latter includes "Starstruck." Fans of Blackmore and electric guitar soloing will adore Live in Europe.

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