Rainbow plays 'thinking man's Heavy Metal'

"I'm wary of some of the newer music, like New Wave music, the same way Thorean once said to beware of any enterprise requiring new clothes". I just wanna put on my sneakers and jeans and play music," said Joe Lynn Turner, lead singer for the Heavy Metal band Rainbow.

Turner says he was an English literature major in college at a time when many students were opting for a psychology major.

"I think maybe they wanted to find themselves by studying psychology. I always loved to play music. Maybe that was my way to figure out things."

Turner succeeded in making music his living, first with Fandango, as a guitarist and vocalist. Three and a half years ago, he joined Ritchie Blackmore's band, Rainbow, as lead vocalist.

Rainbow originally was slated to perform Wednesday at the Onondaga Country War Memorial. The band has been rescheduled to appear at the smaller Landmark Theater at 8 p.m Thursday.

Blackmore's creation

Rainbow was the creation of former Deep Purple guitarist Ritchie Blackmore, who left that group in 1975 with the intention of forming his own band. After numerous musician changes, Rainbow has remained stable with its five members for more than three years.

"The changes in musicians were mostly due to personality conflicts. Ritchie is demanding to work for, cruel but fair. He doesn't ask anyone to do anything he wouldn't do. He and I work well together. I'm his golden boy!" said Turner laughing.

While Rainbow will perform at Germany's televised "Rockfest" in December with such infamous Heavy Metal bands as Def Leppard and Ozzy Osbourne, Rainbow is a Heavy Metal rock group of a different kind. Groups like Rainbow are often scathingly referred to as "pseudo-AOR (album-oriented rock) Heavy Metal" by some critics. But, Rainbow's music is more accessible to those who not like Heavy Metal music.

In a recent telephone interview, Turner described Rainbow's sound. "It's thinking man's Heavy Metal, a more melodic sound than the usual Heavy Metal music. We want to put on a class act for people from teen-agers on up."

Taking new direction

Rainbow's new album "Bent Out Of Shape," is intriguing in its digression from Heavy Metal album covers, titles and music. Rainbow may be moving in a direction that would fill the gap between rock'n'roll and Heavy Metal rock hopefully, without falling into the category of pop rock (or bubble gum rock) groups like Journey and R.E.O Speedwagon.

"One of the band's roadies (crew members who move and set up equipment) often says, "Don't get bent out of shape about it." The phrase stuck with us. We were all under a lot of emotional and physical pressure making the album. Truly, bent out of shape!" said Turner.

The album is currently number 37 on the top 200 LP and tape chart.

Turner and Blackmore collaborate on most of the songs. Turner writes the lyrics and melodies and Blackmore scores the rest of the music. Blackmore is unmistakable in the Heavy Metal edge his guitar adds to the music.

Rainbow's themes are mainly of the love and broken hearts formula. "I know those themes are good for business. I'd be a fool if I didn't. But I write from personal experience. Or the experience of someone who leaned on my shoulder.

"I wrote "Stranded" all alone in my hotel room, screaming at the top of my lungs. I'd look out at the street and the lights, not wanting to go anywhere and feeling like there was nowhere to go -an almost existential feeling of loneliness- and that's what the song's about. I write about things that move me. Not all of them make it to vinyl; there's a lot of transitions a song goes through. The (music)business involves a blending of art and a craft."

Tickets are $10.75 at the Landmark box office.

Elizabeth Edmonds - November 1983

[Thanks to: Tonny Steenhagen]

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