It would be pointless to give a critique of the music contained herein as judgment was passed on it all many years ago. With millions in sales and continued radio air time at a level almost unchanged for twenty years best representing the music, all I can say is that this collection is long overdue. RAINBOW, nee Ritchie Blackmore and whomever he chose to hire for that given album, covered more hard rock territory than any mountain climber could ever hope to and within the space of seven years and eight now classic releases, yes, it is time for this.

In the earliest of days Blackmore "partnered" himself with Ronnie James Dio, hard rock's leading vocalist and Godfather of the Heavy Metal scene, to form a band that would attempt to create what they referred to as "Renaissance rock music." What they actually did was to use Blackmore's guitar and Dio's lyrics to paint pictures of a medieval past with heavy emphases on American blues all filtered through the amplifiers of an English aristocrat. The result was and remains some of the most brilliant rock music ever composed. From this period better than half of this collection is taken and the selection couldn't have been better. The version of "Mistreated" included here comes form the bands "LIVE ON STAGE" record and surpasses any other version of the number in every imaginable way, thirteen minutes of Blackmore and Dio at their best before or since.

After Dio departed the band hung a sharp left and recorded a single album with Graham Bonnet at the microphone and the sprint toward blatant commercial hard rock ala FOREIGNER was on. The classic "Since You Been Gone" being the most memorable and singable ditty form that period. Alas, Bonnet too went missing and the infinitely more radio friendly Joe Lynn Turner came in to helm a band that clutched at its history of hard rock with a limp grip. Castles and dungeons morphed into love songs that fit the times and struck the highest positions on both the sales and play charts that RAINBOW would ever achieve. "Stone Cold" and "Street of Dreams" were obvious choices for inclusion here but the addition of the perfectly named "Power" wets the appetite for the curious to go and purchase full albums form the Joe Lynn Turner period.

By the time it was done RAINBOW had run through three incredible singers who were accompanied by a dizzying array of backup musicians coming in and out with Blackmore the only constant and despite the revolving door of talent you simply can not mistake a song with the RAINBOW tag for anyone else. This disc offers nothing new to long time fans save some rare photos of the group but for those that have teetered on the edge of fandome, this will send them over for sure.

Rating 5/5

David Wilson, Heavy Metal Inc. - May 2001