CA Connection (Tarantura TCDRAINBOW-12)
The Pantages (Warner) Theatre Fresno, CA – May 21st, 1978
(63:29) Over The Rainbow, Kill The King, Guitar Solo, Mistreated, LA Connection, Long Live Rock ‘N’ Roll, Man On The Silver Mountain, Blues, Night People (Jam), Man On The Silver Mountain, Guitar Solo, Still I’m Sad, An Die Freude, Keyboard Solo, Drum Solo, 1812 Overture, Still I’m Sad
Tarantura takes a break from earlier releases documenting Rainbow’s Japanese tours from 1976/78 to feature concerts performed by two incarnations of Rainbow from Fresno California USA in 1978 and 1979, keys years in the history of the band. By 1978 Rainbow was working hard to make an impact on the USA market and a three month long tour was booked in support of the recently released Long Live Rock ‘n’ Roll record.
The set list was a stripped down affair from the recent Japanese tour and the European tour the previous year with both Sixteenth Century Greensleeves and Catch The Rainbow dropped, since the band was a special guest on much of the tour it allowed for them play their most accessible material while still showcasing their individual talents.
The recording is credited to the team of Tape Information from Led Tattoo and Tape Archivist D.J. Fresno, it is an audience source, it ranges in the fair to good range. The recording device was obviously no match for the power Rainbow was unleashing, the quiet parts are clear and bright but when the whole band is playing the sound becomes muffled with a small amount of distortion, there is a very minor hiss present that does not interfere.
Even with the drawbacks you can hear the individual instruments and is an enjoyable document with its main “claim to fame” a live version of LA Connection. The CD starts with Dorothy saying “We must be over the rainbow” and the band launching into the opening jam that leads into the always aggressive Kill The King, even with the muffled sound Cozy Powell can be heard clearly and is a chance to enjoy his drumming, his skill with the double bass drum set up supplied the band with its motor.
There is little time wasted and Ronnie introduces a “bit of the blues for you”, Blackmore then plays a gentle instrumental before the opening riff, the crowd cheers their approval. Between the guitar and David Stone’s keyboards the opening sounds very heavy, as always Mistreated is a highlight and this version has a very laid back feel to it, Blackmore lets it flow giving the piece a very dramatic feel, at its conclusion Ritchie plays a quick snippet of Lazy.
Ronnie points out a member of the audience holding up a copy of the Long Live Rock ‘n’ Roll and he says when you open up the sleeve you see a picture of yourselves (interesting since the inside picture was taken at a Rush concert) and introduces two new songs, LA Connection and LLRNR. LA Connection was played rarely on the tour and there are only a few recordings that have surfaced.
The song was written about former keyboard player Tony Carey who was involved with the initial work on the record and was subjected to Ritchie wrath, he ultimate broke out and ran back to LA. Live the song is similar to the LP version and thankfully is one of the clearer parts of the tape. LA Connection and Long Live Rock ‘n’ Roll are linked not stop, the crowd is very into the song and Ronnie has no trouble in getting them to clap and sing a long to his “Rock Rock Rock and Roll YEAH”, it should be noted that although the recording has its limitations there is virtually no crowd interference close to the taper.
Dio introduces Man On The Silver Mountain to much applause and the band waste little time launching into the song, it seems like they are focused on keeping the proceedings moving. The song has a slightly fast tempo to it giving it an edgier feel, and as they did on the Japanese tour the song slows down into a laid back blues jam lead by Ritchie with some nice playing by David Stone also. A guy from the audience shouts “Oh yeah Ritchie!” in appreciation of his playing, very nice indeed.
The blues jam gives way to a simply beautiful Night People interlude showcasing Ronnie’s incredible voice, the woman in the crowd cries out and he says “beautiful voice miss” as the song creates an intimate connection between performers and the audience. Ronnie asks if it always gets this warm in Fresno or is it when they get together to enjoy music before announcing “something to chew on” and the band begin the final number and vehicle for band improvisation Still I’m Sad.
After the main part of the song Ritchie plays a beautiful An Die Freude and once Cozy starts his complimenting drums it sounds as if the recording devise may crumple, thankfully David Stone solo is up next to play a soothing mellow solo before Cozy and his 1812 Overture again levels the recorder. The band soars through the Still I’m Sad reprise with Ritchie playing some nice slide licks ending the concert with no guitar crashing but in fine fashion.
The packaging is a gatefold style sleeve with a fantastic shot of Ronnie on the front, Ritchie on the back and full band shot in the middle, the front also has the title listed as “Fresno Rock ‘n’ Roll Archives Vol. 2 and is limited to 200 numbered copies. While the price may keep the general collectors away this recording is a must for Blackmore / Dio fans and is a worthwhile release.If you liked this review, buy me a cup of joe. (Suggested: $3 a shot or $7.5 for a double)