Ritchie Blackmore

Take It!

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Long before reaching superstardom with Deep Purple, Ritchie Blackmore, along with Jimmy Page, was one of the hottest session guitarists of the British Invasion. Blackmore didn't play on nearly as many hits as Page, but his vicious, lightning R&B runs during this time were, arguably, just as exciting and accomplished. Blackmore saw most of his duty as a member of the predominantly instrumental combo the Outlaws (who have CD reissue compilations of their own in the U.K.), and on sessions produced by legendary eccentric Joe Meek. Most of the material on this 24-track disc is compiled from excruciatingly rare 45s bearing Meek's credit. The material, it must be said, is dire, more often than not. Meek favored no-talent teen idols, and while Blackmore's leads often gave the sessions a lift, they're usually pretty brief. When he's given a free hand to unleash some solos, the results can be pretty thrilling, as on the Outlaws' "Shake with Me" (with a solo that ranks among the most devastating of the mid-'60s), Heinz's "I Get Up in the Morning," and his menacing instrumental version of Grieg's "Hall of the Mountain King" classical theme (recorded with the Lancasters). There are also a couple of radio broadcasts of the Outlaws backing Gene Vincent -- decent performances, lousy fidelity. With thorough, loving liner notes, this has its moments, but its appeal is undoubtedly limited to a pretty specialized niche.