The Best of Rainbow compiles 16 of the best tracks from Rainbow's first seven studio albums, wisely avoiding 1977's live On Stage release. The first two tracks from their debut album, 1975's Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow, showcases the instant bond that was formed between Blackmore and Ronnie James Dio, especially on "Man on the Silver Mountain." Blackmore changed the band for the following year's Rainbow Rising, with Jimmy Bain replacing bass player Craig Gruber, and Cozy Powell taking percussion duties away from Gary Driscoll. Adding keyboard player Tony Carey helped tracks like "Starstruck" and the lengthy "Stargazer" to sound a little more dimensional and fluent than the group's first effort. All of 1978's Long Live Rock and Roll have Rainbow settling in to a heavier sound with faster guitar riffs, proven on the frantic "Kill the King" and on the string accompanied "Gates of Babylon." With Dio leaving in 1978, Graham Bonnet filled in on vocals for Down to Earth, with Roger Glover playing bass. Although the album gave the band a number 40 hit with "Since You've Been Gone," one of Russ Ballard's creations, Bonnet left thereafter and was replaced by Joe Lynn Turner for the Difficult to Cure album. The album sold on the strength of "I Surrender," one of their best tracks, but the remaining tunes marked the beginning of Rainbow's recession. "Jealous Lover," the B-side to 1981's "Can't Happen Here" is a nice addition to the collection, while the next four tracks from Rainbow's most disappointing releases are best heard here than on their parent albums. For a hits package, The Very Best of Rainbow doubles as both a handy sift through the group's changing lineup and as a good place to start for those who are inquisitive.
AllMusic Review by Mike DeGagne