For those fans still incapable (or unwilling) to accept Deep Purple guitar legend Ritchie Blackmore's defection from heavy metal glory into the acoustic renaissance music of Blackmore's Night, perhaps this double live album will finally drive the reality home. Recorded in May 2002, Past Times with Good Company (named after a traditional folk song written by none other than King Henry VIII) finds the obdurate guitarist and his conversely charming sparring partner and wife, vocalist Candice Night, performing before a few hundred friends in the Netherlands, dressed in suitably medieval garb -- of course! And after listening to the Baroque arrangements, minor-chord voicings, and even some of the lyrics to the likes of "Shadow of the Moon," "Under a Violet Moon," and "Morning Star," the leap from atop the Rainbow to the bowels of a musky, Middle Ages pub may no longer seem as far-fetched. To some extent, this is the result of a fuller musical backdrop provided by the duo's well-rounded supporting cast (highlighted by violinist Chris Devine), as compared to their at times rather spare studio efforts. But also easing what could be a difficult transition are occasional glimpses into Blackmore's past by way of Purple's "Soldier of Fortune" and Rainbow's surprisingly apropos (and electrified) "16th Century Greensleeves." See, it really isn't that big a stretch! Another plus for pure Blackmore disciples is hearing the master shred his acoustic guitar during the beautiful "Beyond the Sunset." And to earlier converts who may have yet to experience Blackmore's Night in a live setting, Past Times with Good Company will of course provide a perfect showcase.
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AllMusic Review by Eduardo Rivadavia
Track Listing - Disc 1
Track Listing - Disc 2