HARK! Listen to the dulcet tones of the Rainbow. Dig deep into the pockets, dispense with the necessary readies and prepare to be blown away! Yeah, this new Rainbow release follows 'Straight Between The Eyes' as one excellent piece of plastic - it's thumbs up from me... and it's up from them (that's Big Al, Neil Jeffries and enemy of 'real men' everywhere, Diddy Dave, pretty much all of the Kerrang! staff actually). But beware of those of you who've just put the needle to 'Rising' for the 8,000th time, while 'BOOS' should indeed blow you away, it sure as hell ain't gonna cave your face in at the same time!
Y'see, as RB has been hinting for a good three years now, he certainly couldn't give a toss about being recognized as the world's greatest axe exponent any more... at least not on vinyl. Nah, sensible chap that he is, Ritchie wants to be part of a group that's producing class Rock 'n' Roll... no more, no less. For a guy with such a supposedly huge ego, he ain't letting it show through his Strat! Blackmore's breaks are short, concise, to the point and as such far more effective than five minute ramblings. Even the album's two instrumentals, 'Anybody There' and ~Snowman' are tunes in their own right, just as they should be! Songs should be the key to anyone's heart and some sizeable locks could be opened here.
With memorable moments in force, a weekend's spinning has been totally rewarding, revealing possibly Rainbow's most complete work to date. There's very little emphasis on performing to the standards (?) required of a Hard Rock/Heavy Metal band, more in coming up with marvellous music and believe it or not, Rainbow Mark 87 (is it?} are infinitely superior when they keep it calm, keep it stealthy and don't worry too much about 'rockin' out'. You'll get the drift when you copare newer-sounding Rainbow to older guard material. The former has produced two of this year's finest tunes, a double~headed delight on side B of this disc. 'Desperate Heart' stands out as the biggie, Joe Lynn Turner proving he's got as much in him as Lou Gramm (a compliment indeed!), while David Rosenthal shows that he has the necessary keyboard subtleties that are needed in this more mature Rainbow. Instant yet lasting, totally contemporary and a sophisticated joy to the ears... as is 'Street Of Dreams', the latest single criminally insulted by Chris Welch lastish, taking up where 'Stone Cold' left off and carrying the style pretty much to ultimate perfection. Then there's 'Stranded', a spacey, keyboard-dominated opener that caresses you into submission. 'Can't Let You Go', where J.L.T. reveals his increasingly mature and sensitive lyrical capabilities, and 'Fool For The Night', a Blackmore/Turner composition which is as close to definitive modern day Rainbow as anything. Minor quibbles concern 'Fire Dance' and 'Make Your Move', more on the old Rainbow pulse but too uninspired for such a generally well-crafted album, and also the fact that drummer Chuck Burgi hasn't been given the chance to really shine here. (Refer to Balance's 'In For The Count' for a true reflection of his capabilities and quatity.)
Minor quibbtes indeed in terms of overall quality control. Now if Rainbow can carry that inspired atmosphere to the stage we'll all be laughing... even Mr. Blackmore might have to let a smile out. 'Bent Out Of Shape'? Nah, Rainbow have trained hard... and they're in better shape than ever!
Howard Johnson, Kerrang - September 1983
RAINBOW BENT OUT OF SHAPE (Polydor POLD 5116)
A BIT OF A BENDER
Surprisingly, despite the title, this isn't a concept album based on Ross Halfin's extravagant sex life. But it is an absolutely vital re-affirmation of Blackmore's prowess as both a guitarist and a songwriter. It's also a totally devastating denial of Dee Snider's recent 'Rainbow are dead' rantings. I love Dee like an (ugly) brother but the monstrous muppet does seem totally incapable of appreciating any sort of music that isn't kicking you to death. In contrast to Snider's standardised shout songs, 'Bent' is a beast of many moods, a mouth-watering multi-layered muesli of tempos and textures. Richer and more satisfying than 'Straight Between The Eyes', it recalls elements of 'Rainbow Rising' as well as the later jukebox-rock that took Ritchie back to TOTPs.
Rock fans who can appreciate class as well as raw power will be well-served by this platter. Sure, there's plenty of melodic sensibility in evidence - but the crucial point is mass appeal doesn't necessarily equate with blandness. Some people make it into an art form and Blackmore could well be one of them. Crafty old Ritchie has found his top form again here, demonstrating with breathtaking ease why he, like so few others, genuinely deserves the epithet 'Guitar Hero'.
Even at its gentlest, the album stilll sparkles thanks to his superb guitar play. The lobotomised Schenker should do himself a favour and check it out, it's proof positive that longevity doesn't have to equate with going through the motions. Blackmore's fretboard forays never sound tired or cliched. There's real feeling here. The difference between 'Bent' and the recent MSG abortion is the difference between Liverpool FC and Gillingham FC. Style, class, depth, you name it, this has got it.
Lovers of more unrestrained music can shelter in the storms of the gloriously Purple-esque 'Fire Dance' and the full-frontal gallop of 'Make Your Move', both blessed with hair raising guitar holocausts. And let's not forget 'Drinking With The Devil', a savagely satanic-saunter whose deliciously cliched lyrics betray a worrying carefree attitude towards boozing with Beelzebub. I had a similar experience in a strip bar with Edwin Pouncey once, but I disgress...
Lovers of the less hectic will find solace in 'Anybody There', with Blackmore supplying gorgeous guitar over a Bach-like backing (guaranteed to become an air guitarists delight) that proves once again that his Bach is no worse than his Beethoven (and that's fairly stunning too). Similarly breath taking is the guitar break midway into the toe-tappingly tasty 'Desperate Heart', which soars and spirals into some head-tuning high-pitched yelps. Elsewhere we get Ritchie's interpretation of Howard Blake's 'Snowman'. Beginning like Jon And Vangelis on mandrax, its morosely dreamy feel is rudely awakened by a wonderfully reckless guitar burst.
Finally, there's the battery of well-crafted 'radio rock' - the addictive pump of the opener 'Stranded' with its populist punch-the-air chants, the more uptempo 'Fool For The Night' and of course 'Street Of Dreams' - not quite 'I Surrender' but eminently listenable all the same. And that just leaves 'Can't Let You Go' with its great Dave Rosenthal opening organ, a sombre and majestic passage that sounds like a gen-u-ine church organ and precedes the classy contagious cruise of the song proper. This is obviously the one for Ritchie's Vincent Price impersonations. As you can tell, most of the many faces of Rainbow are represented in ship-shape form. Indeed, there is not a bald patch on the album. Glover's production is as faultless as the playing, it will sell in droves both sides of the Atlantic, and it proves once again that the name of Blackmore is synonymous with quality.
Garry Bushell, Sounds - September 1983
RAINBOW BENT OUT OF SHAPE (Polydor POLD 5116)
Let me take you back to last week's singles review and Dee Snider sounding off about Rainbow's new 45 "Street Ot Dreams": "This is NOT Rainbow. This is just another band in a long line of pseudo-Foreigner, washed down heavy metal rock'n'roll bands."
Mr Snider may not be the most tactful of earthlings, but one thing is for certain he sure doesn't bullshit or beat (the meat?) around the bush when it comes to up-front retribution. Rainbow sure need some heavy wrist slapping this time around and I'm real glad that I've pot Dee on my side.
Unfortunately this LP is a virtual testament to the downfall of Ritchie Blackmore and his never ending Rainbow. Sad but true. A detailed history lesson of the last few albums would prove the point adequately, but is rather unnecessary as every self-respecting Rainbow fan (past or present) will realise that the band peaked with "Rainbow Rising" and have slid backwards since.
"Stranded" kicks off side one and - surprise, surprise - what do we find but vocalist Joe Lynn Turner turning in his most successful Lou Gramm impression to date over a sub (new age) Blackfoot style song. Good radio rock for sure, but this could be any one of 10 bands.
"Can't Let You Go" weighs in as a mean and moody midpaced strutter much in the mould of a faster "Stone Cold" rework. Oh, a special mention to david Rosenthal's excellent gothic inspired keyboard intro. In fact, this young tinkler turns in some very tasty ivory frills throughout the LP. "Fool For The Night" actually hints back atr pre-"Back Down To Earth" style Rainbow, and "Firedance" actively displays "Rainbow Rising" roots. In fact, J.L. Turner (the Mike Yarwood of HM?) adopts a distinct Ronnie James Dio vocal stance. The whole song is very similar in structure to "A Light In The Black", one of Rainbow's classic songs. Full marks, but only for this one.
Side two (the weaker incidentally) is introduced by "Desperate Heart", a rather nondescript song saved only by Rosenthal's superb keyboard twists and some tasty (almost modern) sound effects. "Street Of Dreams" sucks (see Dee Snider's reasons); it's not a good ballad by any stretch of the imagination and the melody is terminally irritating.
The lynch pin, or filler, or throwaway (delete as applicable) comes in the shape of "Drinking With The Devil", a full frontal rocker short on imagination and skill - Raven can do this sort of stuff much better. Written by Howard Blake and interpreted by Blackmore, "Snowman" is a very moody instrumental that works exceptionally well. Again the keyboards shine through fantastically, fully complementing Blackmore's guitar virtuosity.
The closer, "Make Your Move", is another full tilt rocker but crafted much more effectively than the others on this LP. A rather bleak and dismal ending to a rather bleak LP, I'm afraid. Ritchie Blackmore is still searching for that pot of gold and every time he releases a new album, he moves one step closer to total sellout. Come on Ritchie, let's get back to basics.
Derek Oliver, Melody Maker - September 1983
RAINBOW BENT OUT OF SHAPE (Mercury 815 305-1 M-1)
If Rainbow are the most listenable heavy metal band and I think they are the reason is vocalist Joe Lynn Turner of Hackensack, N.J. His gutsy singing, in the tradition of British rockers like Paul Rodgers (and American imitators like Foreigner's Lou Gramm), is powerful rather than piercing, adult rather than juvenile. And since Turner shares the songwriting with guitarist-leader Ritchie Blackmore, I presume he's partly responsible for the melodic turns of the group's recent material (absent from their pre-Turner albums).
Blackmore, once Deep Purple's guitar-toting firebrand, seems to understand the situation, for while he continues to hire and fire band members with abandon (BENT OUT OF SHAPE introduces a new drummer, Chuck Burgi), he, Turner and bassist-producer Roger Glover (also ex-Deep Purple) have remained the group's core for nearly four years. Keyboardist David Rosenthal favors the rich Hammond organ sound of Deep Purple's old hits, a welcome novelty in this synthesizer age. True, he and Blackmore occasionally indulge in moments of pseudo-symphonic pomposity, but they're easy to ignore.
I expect to be hearing plenty of "Can't Let You Go," "Desperate Heart" and "Street of Dreams" on the radio over the next few months. I expect to be enjoying them too. That's more than I could ever say for Def Leppard.
Daily Record (Morristown, New Jersey) - October 16, 1983
RAINBOW BENT OUT OF SHAPE (Polydor POLD 5116)
These days Rainbow are more like a bunch of Hollywood has-beens than monsters of HM. Despite some hard livin', hard drinkin' lyrics and speed-fingered solos, this latest offering is positively mellow. 'Can't Let You Go' and the single 'Street Of Dreams' are more MOR than metal mayhem and two turgid instrumentals drag the tempo down even further. This may be a fortifier for the nearly forties, for the rest of us it's a sheep in wolf's clothing.
James McGregor, UK Press - September 1983
RAINBOW BENT OUT OF SHAPE (Polydor POLD 815 305-2)
YES FOLKS, another duff 'un from the Rainbow crew. They're suffering from an acute case of dry rot. The guts have all gone, replaced by bland songs and spectacularly dull routines. Frankly you'd find more emotion in a block of wood that Ritchie Blackmore's turgid guitar playing, and Joe Lynn Turner's voice is well past its peak and way over the hill. Granted, he hasn't got a lot to go on - some of the lyrics on this would embarrass a ten year old. Rainbow's crock of gold has become a rusty old heap of brass. +
Robin Smith, Record Mirror - September 1983
Reviews 7 & 12 inch singles
RAINBOW STREET OF DREAMS (Polydor 7 inch)
Not much magic here, of either the black or white variety. The workmanlike production from Roger Glover seems more suited to pleasing the 'jocks' of America than the rhythm crazed hordes of the Old Country. A 'jock' incidentally, is not a pair of evil smelling underpants, but a dude with a stubbly beard, headphones and all the lively energy of a man who has been broadcasting non-stop for 18 hours on a diet of cigarettes and cold chips.
'This sounds really neat. Hey, have Ritchie call by next time the band's in town. Oh, the band have sold out seven shows at the Dwight Eisenhower Cow Palace? I haven't been out of this studio in years. Say, are Spooky Tooth still big in your country? 'As a pop song, it's not bad, and may even get to 27 in the chart for five days. But the hook line is repeated so often it sounds like a tape loop.
Chris Welch, Kerrang! - 8 September 1983
RAINBOW CAN'T LET YOU GO (Polydor 7 inch)
Quick, break out the 'Phantom of the Opera' masks and cardboard organs. Struth, I've not heard an intro like this for many a year, who are they trying to kid. Well, when you eventually get to the song it's not such a bad little tune, catchy and very accessible to most ears I'm sure. Another minor hit record for Rainbow? Probably.
Steve Joule, Kerrang! - 20 October 1983