There'll always be a Rainbow as long as Ritchie's here
Well, and as long as Cozy and Ronnie are still here, and as far as you - dear SOUNDS reader - are concerned, as long as, Pete Makowski is here. (Mind you Pete says this is definitely the last piece he's gonna write on 'em)
THERE'LL ALWAYS be a Ronnie, there'll always be a Cozy and myself in Rainbow and that's all that matters, others may come and go because they always turn out to be sidemen, unless we get some one really good. And Cozy, you can't get any better than that, so anybody else who comes along has got to be so good or they're not accepted. That's why we make so many personnel changes as far as organists and bass players go and we always will until we find the right guy, and it's in the public's interest as well as our own."
"The public want to hear good music. We want to make good music. We don't want to get anybody who's a nice guy, who's second best, when maybe one day we can get some guy who's perfect." - Ritchie Blackmore.
"The thing is with me, Ronnie and Ritchie, all three of us have got egos, all three of us have got different kinds of egos so consequently there's a battle already there, there isn't any room for anybody to say 'well I think it should be done this way'. I think the identities of the three of us have been already established, that we're running the show sort of thing. "Well, Ritchie's running the show in the first place obviously with Ronnie, then I came along and stuck in my two penny's worth and now it's three of us running the show and there's not a lot of time or room for anybody else. Say, for example, a Keith Emerson and Jack Bruce suddenly emerged from somewhere, we wouldn't last a week, there'd be an almighty punch up and the band would cease to exist." -Cozy Powell.
The situation is now clearly defined.
See the colours of the Rainbow.....
EGOS and MOTIVATIONS are the two main rock and roll stimulants, but they should be accompanied with REALISM. Ritchie Blackmore, Ronnie james Dio an Cozy Powell have been through all the 'shit and sunshine' of this business to evaluate their respective roles. To some people the mechanica that make this unit function may look cold, ruthless, but if you look at the situation REALISTICALLY, it does make sense.
Up until the end of last year Rainbow were complete in concept with the aforementioned triumvirate, Jimmy Bain (bass) and Tony Carey (keyboards), the band that bought you 'Rainbow Rising', the band you saw playing in Britain last year, the band you'll hear on the up and coming, double live album 'On Stage'.
Bain and Carey departed.
Shortly after Mark Clarke (ex Colleseum/Uriah Heep/Natural Gas + sessions) filled the vacant bass playing slot, but it seems the band encountered difficulties in finding a keyboard player who could fulfill the requirements, so Carey was reinstated.
That's the story up until a few weeks ago. Now let's beam over to a plot of land just 45 minutes outside of Paris, buried deep within Frances pikshuresk countryside. This plot of land is commonly known as the Honky Chatéau. Let's see, there's a selection of rural antiquated stonework buildings, living quarters, studio - somewhat reminiscent of a boarding school/holiday camp. Swimming, plenty of greeness n'stuff like that.
Almost planets away from the city craziness of the country's capital, it ain't rock+roll and soon you can find yourself wandering around aimlessly, yearning for some urbanisation, y'know summink like a rude cab driver. Even a ticket from a yellow penguin (traffic warden) would be utopia, after the monotonus crickets chorus and farmyard animals. The band have been here for seven weeks, SEVEN BLOODY WEEKS! No nails left to chew, almost running out of American Marlboroughs, shit! Didja bring a Daily Mirror with you?
There's this prehistoric mickey mouse radio set in the common room, y'know with a 50 ft. aerial but real cracklerama, and every Saturday afternoon with almost ritualistic regularity the band sit around it, trying to pick up The Alan Freeman Show, fixed expressions, maximum concentration is needed to make out Fluff amidst the interfering froggy frequencies. It's almost like wartime conditions as if they're waiting for Winston's latest morale booster.
"There's nothing else worth listening to, he's still the best D.J. and he'll probably outlast them all 'cause he just plays the records and leaves you to make your own conclusions, there's nothing else that's vaguely inspiring", commented Blackmore. And, at this moment, inspiration is what they need.
Y'see the band have almost completed their new studio album, which is a veritable killer, but I won't bore you with my 'blinded by the bias' arse licking opinions, anyway in the light of the new live album, it won't be out for a while yet, so anything said now will just come over as vynilised prick teasing. Suffice to say, it's all skintight/brainmangling hard rock that'll make your ears implode with ecstasy, qualityrama unlimited.
But the fact is they're stumped for ideas, continually living on top of each has resulted with boredom, stagnation has set in. Also the 'harmonious' atmosphere has been disrupted by the sudden departure of Tony Carey, this time it seems for real. All a case of 'mysterious circumstances'.
Blackmore looks pale, dazed, he's spent hours on end locked away in his room, playing, searching for ideas which don't seem to gell, leaving him with a cassette full of unfinished ideas, half-cooked riffs.....
New man Mark Clarke is a steadfast, levelheaded character who looks like he can cope with his accomplices explosive personalities. Not being too familiar with his playing at the moment he remains a cheerful warm-hearted face. Time will tell.
Everything's in the air, this is just an interim investigation. It's also the first time I've managed to actually corner Blackmore with a cassette recorder and get some words down on tape since he was in Purple. I also spoke with Dio and Powell but due to lack of column inches, space will not allow me to give you the whole scam, but there words wil appear sometime in the near future. (If ya want a transcript of the latter two interviews, just write and I'll be willing to oblige), as time ticks on it reveals that these three are the solid constituents of Rainbow.
IN THE EARLY hours of the morn, we conducted the interview in the living room below the studios which was bathed in an ominous glow of a full moon. Complete with crackling log fire, the scenario complimented the man's mystique and the eerie happenings in this ancient building which have been hampering with the groups progress. Tape on, ...LET'S GO!
PM: What's become apparent in the last couple of days is that you're willing to compromise quality with studio deadlines.
RB: "Yeh right, we're trying to make this a party L.P. too. I'm pleased with the results' I've laid a little bit low on the guitar playing because I don't like to be totally brash and upfront all the time, I've dove that on the live L.P."
PM: Is the new album a sort of transition then?
RB: "Yes, I'm trying to make it a more musical content sort of thing, I'd rather have better songs. But as soon as these songs get played on stage, then I'll solo on them. I'm thinking about the end product, I'm not thinking about what I'm going to play, I've proved that I can play guitar, I don't want to keep playing just to satisfy guitarists. I want to satisfy the people, the guitarists and myself all in one."
PM: I was talking to rest of the band about egos and motivations, you're motivations don't seem to be solely money and certainly not the showbusiness side of life. A lot of people seem to think if you're in a 'heavy' band, it's only for the money.
RB: "I'm in a heavy band because that's what I feel, I like extremes, escapism too. As you know I only listen to classical music, the only band I really listen to is Jethro Tull, I like to hear a bit of Zeppelin because they play it so well.
"But then I like to go mad, and go to the opposite end of the scale to out and out hard rock and that's it, I don't like anything else in between. It has to have out and out drama an intense feel like all my favourtite composers like Bach, Tull.... I can relate to heavy metal, but heavy metal has been abused by a lot of bands. But I do like to play it, because it is valid, after playing guitar for 21 years I can still turn round and say it's very valid."
PM: I remember Cozy saying that if he started looking at all the other drummers he'd feel intimidated.
RB: "I wouldn't feel intimidated, because when I do look around especially guitarists, I don't think very much of them, that's not saying I'm really good, it's just saying they're pretty bad.
PM: THIS band, probably because of individual experience, have a very realistic attitude to this business, there aren't many other who'se end product is worth all the shit that does down getting there. 'Cause a lot of bands seems to stick together on a sociable premise and slowly go down.
RB: "It's funny because relating to that, I have a kind of a somewhat bad name in this business because of difference in relationship with people n'that. But all I'm after is a good end product. I'm not after being moody or being awkward.
"I don't care - you have to step over some people in this business, but you have to do it as delicately as possible. I would never shit on anybody but I sometimes have to push them out of the way and say I'm sorry hut we're onto different things here, and that's all for the benefit of the public.
"Cozy's often said if he wasn't playing up to par, he'd expect to be kicked out, same as Ronnie and myself, if I wasn't playing properly, they'd kick me out.
PM: Do you feel it's got to that position within the band?
RB: "Yeh, they all know if they don't do their job properly, they'll be out and music can't become complacent because members of the band think they're onto something good and then the band wonders why they haven't succeeded. It's searching for that pulse, that's the key word, pulse ... of the public, 'cause I don't know where they are sometimes".
PM: Its sound similar to that insular awareness of people like Ian Anderson.
RB: "He's not unaware, he's very concerned about punk rock... I don't understand why, he's far superior, he'll be recognised in 25 years."
PM: Do you think in relation, if someone picks up one of your albums in years time, what they're going to think of it?
RB: "Not really, uhh I don't really think a lot of what I do, sometimes. But there again I don't think very much of what anyone else does either. Good music, I think, is made about once a year by some obscure band, no doubt. I have faith in music but I don't have faith in the people making it. You can go back to the classical composers, some of them were wrong.
PM: How has your approach to writing changed since Purple?
RB: "I wasn't so analytical in those days, I'd just write something put it down, say "that sounds O. K., let's get on with it."
PM: You've got set limitations, riffs etc.
RB: "Exactly that's what I'm up against all the time. Obviously being a very closed sensitive person, I'm very aware of what's going on around. In fact I'm too aware, to sensitive of changes of moods, in fact I like to listen to two conversations at the same time if possible, just a bad habit s'pose.
"It's just that I get very bored easy. Obviously I hear many things but you still don't know the answer."
PM: Do you stop becoming bored with it all after playing for so long?
RB: 'Uh well I quite often get bored with it all, then I hear a good ol' riff, a metal song and it inspires me to write. I can think of myself as a punter and I can relate to that, y'see the metal music that I produce comes across to the public. Any other types of music I might play, it would leave the public stone cold.
PM: DO YOU regard yourself as a songwriter?
RB: No I don't... I'm just a riff merchant"
PM: Would you like to be a songwriter?
PM: Is that a frustration?
RB: "Yeh I do get very frustrated with myself, I just give up sometimes. Y'see I've written a lot of songs, but they're not the type that you can do in a heavy metal band, but then I wouldn't want to be in a band that was doing those types of songs, until I'm writing successfully. And I just can't be bothered to give them to somebody else because I'm very lazy.
PM: Rainbow, made you come out of your shell?
RB: "I'm still in my shell, it's just that people have come into it, they can see through it, hut I'm still in a shell."
PM: Regret that you have't developed playing till now?
RB: "No I'm glad it came later, I wish a few songs had come later too, they're are a few particular songs that Purple did, that I would have liked to have seen Rainbow do I'm very grateful for/to Purple but there were some things that weren't quite up to par, specially in the vocal department y'know that's dead and buried."
PM: "Anything you'd like to talk about?
RB "No, I'm afraid I don't think too much about the business, someone has to touch a nerve, one thing I will say that I'm very adamant about, we're not out to be the biggest band in the world, all I'm interested in is that the public accepts what we do in comparison to other bands. As long as they give it a fair crack of the whip, but I do tend to get rather hot under the collar about certain bands being brainwashed to please the public.
"What I've heard of so-called punk rock, people don't understand why other people like it, that's why other people buy it. The thing it has is raw energy, most of it's very badly played, obviously but I'd prefer to hear that than the Eagles, they annoy me, bands who play like that just annoy me.
"With punk rock, at least they're trying. They're trying to create something with energy and music is built around energy."
© Pete Makowski, Sounds 25 June 1977
Photos: © Fin Costello