In most fans' minds, Deep Purple and Rainbow go hand in hand, and with good reason -- up until the early '90s, both were led by guitarist Ritchie Blackmore. And while Rainbow was supposed to be a departure from Deep Purple's sound, it didn't exactly turn out that way. True, Rainbow became streamlined and "radio-friendly" in their latter years, but there were always a few unmistakable "Purple" elements present (especially Blackmore's fluid lead breaks, the presence of organ/keyboard, etc.). The 2003 budget-priced compilation Winning Combinations is split evenly between tracks from both bands -- focusing on Purple and Rainbow's '80s-era highlights. Tracks from Purple's first few reunion albums (1984's Perfect Strangers and 1987's House of Blue Light) make it appear as though the band had picked up exactly where it left off a decade earlier. This was never more evident than on the epic title track from Perfect Strangers, or from the live takes of earlier classics ("Hush" and "Highway Star") that are also included here. The Rainbow portion of the set focuses primarily on the "Joe Lynn Turner years," when the group was obviously studying such chart-toppers as Journey -- "I Surrender" and "Street of Dreams" in particular -- while the early MTV favorite "Stone Cold" and the oft-overlooked "Since You've Been Gone" prove to be the best of the bunch. Winning Combinations is a passable time capsule of '80s Rainbow and Purple.
AllMusic Review by Greg Prato