Rainbow – Definitive Burbank 1976 (Rising Arrow-070)

Definitive Burbank 1976 (Rising Arrow-070)

Starlight Bowl Amphitheater, Burbank, CA, USA – August 3, 1976 

Disc 1 (56:44) Over The Rainbow, Kill The King, Sixteenth Century Greensleeves, Mistreated, Catch The Rainbow, Man On The Silver Mountain 

Disc 2 (59:32) Keyboard Solo, Stargazer, A Light In The Black, Still I’m Sad incl. Keyboard Solo, Drum Solo feat. 1812 Overture, Still I’m Sad (reprise), Do You Close Your Eyes 

Ah…more greatness from the iconic classic Rainbow line up circa 1976, Ritchie Blackmore on guitar, Ronnie James Dio vocals, Jimmy Bain bass, Tony Carey keyboards, and the bombastic Cozy Powell on drums. The recording featured here is from the North American tour in support of Rising, the venue is the 5,000 capacity shed Starlight Bowl Amphitheater in beautiful Burbank, California, the date August 3, 1976. Amazing what you can find online, a quick look of the weather that day shows sunny and 80 degrees Fahrenheit, perfect weather to enjoy music under the stars. Amazing that one of the 70’s greatest Metal albums seems to only get its praise in print, sales in the UK only good enough for gold, in America it’s not even registered. Those long haired kids in denim jackets knew though and may have not been able to afford the album, but they bought a concert ticket. Thankfully, one punter took a tape machine to the show.

The taper was not only able to smuggle a tape machine in, but was able to get a nice pull. From the sounds of it our hero is close to the action as the music has an “in your face” feel. The audience source is very good, a bit flat lacking dynamics yet is clear enough to hear the instruments and vocals, the drums being a bit buried but do clear up slightly as the recording settles in. The overall sound is a bit muddy but the recording can handle loud volumes and one is able to get a good feel for the performance, which is not to the level of Miami, but very close. This title also boasts remastering by Graf Zeppelin as the tape source is the same used on Rising Arrow’s first version of this recording, Burbank Master (Rising Arrow-013). Having only a CD-r version of this title it was a perfect time to invest in a proper version. The Graf mastering adds a lot to this recording, just a bit louder and phase correction plus a few tweaks adding a bit more top and bottom end, it needed the latter and actually a bit clearer to boot. Graf has that ability to bring out the best in these recordings, whomever they are have a great ear as it’s always tasteful.

The recording starts with the band taking the stage and doing a quick instrument check and a quick pause which leads into Dorothy taking us Over The Rainbow. The band begin proper with a nod to Harold Arlen and thus the rampage begins with Kill The King. The audience cheer when Blackmore goes into his solo, frantically paced and pure Blackmore at his best. While Cozy is not very clear, the undertone is there thanks to his bass drums, both pounding out the beat. Sounds like the band pull a good crowd, Ronnie greets the folks on the hill first followed by the seats, both are well represented. He introduces “Greensleeves” as being written by Henry the VIII, what a way to follow up Kill The King then with a song who had two of his wives sent for beheading at the Tower of London. What a brutal opening salvo, fast aggressive to pummeling heavy, headbangers fest.

Ronnie talks about being in Toledo, Ohio, Shreveport, La, etc explaining that the band members are from all over the world but call Los Angeles home which gets a nice cheer. A song from two years prior is next, one which the audience are quite familiar with, Mistreated from Deep Purple’s Burn album. Certainly not fodder, the song holds a special place is Blackmore’s heart and is beautifully interpreted by Ronnie James Dio. The mournful woes of David are just a memory, the anger that Ronnie exudes gives the song new meaning and feel. The quiet section finds Ritchie just noodling, once he goes into a solo proper is smoking, the noodling section not even smoldering. Ronnie introduces the lighting guy who gives the audience a full rainbow in all its glory as a prelude to Catch The Rainbow. For what began as a six minute ballad on the Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow album has now doubled in length and certainly for the better. The quiet beginning of the piece allows for clarity of the recording which picks up the nuances of the performances, the gentle vocals of Ronnie and Jimmy, the complex structure of Blackmore’s playing and Carey’s keyboards adding subtle garnishments. The reward is a massive ovation from the audience.

Ronnie mentions playing Santa Monica on the previous November while introducing Man On The Silver Mountain, the band are certainly glad to be in California. There is a love interlude played in the middle, it’s a vocal segment by Ronnie with accompaniment from Tony, I can picture the band standing there watching in awe as he improvises vocally…what a talent he was. As we transition to the second disc it’s time to stand up, grab a drink or whatever and get oneself prepared for what is to come. “We’re going to make sure we’re perfectly in tune for this one…this is a song about the Wizard…an epic”. A quick Tony Carey solo spot leads into Stargazer, Cozy kicks in with the iconic beat and the rest kick in and the effect is very heavy, a headbangers dream which does fade a bit as the keys become a bit heavy in the mix overshadowing the rest, giving an off effect. The band is back in time for a furious take on A Light In The Black, the pace of these two songs would eventually takes its toll on Powell and Light was dropped after the North American tour. It is indeed a highlight to take these two songs in together, Carey gets a quick solo in and Blackmore comes to the front of the stage and levels it with his playing. Solo’s over and back to the main theme that band just smoke the rest of the song, Ronnie is almost screaming and the whole effect is almost numbing, but in a good way.

As Ronnie introduces the next song, a fan shouts Highway Star to no avail as the next tune is Still I’m Sad. The band get almost funky to great effect, Blackmore is the instigator! He gets on a roll and the band keep pushing him, or are they following? The effect is unique, masters of metallic improvisation. The song evolves organically as Blackmore says what needs to be said and quietly leaves the stage and Tony Carey begins a solo rather reflectively but it’s his second solo spot so it’s short, Cozy is waiting and resilient after the onslaught of Wizard in Black tunes. What a drummer, guy just puts on a double bass drum massive kit how to do it right, even the 1812 Overture is on point. Incredible percussionist, one of the best to sit inside his kit! The Still I’m Sad reprise is heavier than the first part, the band refreshed from the short break come back to end the main set proper. A tape pause leads into the standard encore for this tour, of course Blackmore does a jam style intro, six string fireworks lead into Do You Close Your Eyes. Simple straight forward Rock and Roll at its best, it’s like a get up get your ass moving song, perfect fodder for an encore. The second half features Blackmore as a showman, he rips into his Strat certainly twirling it like a baton, the audience loves every second of it as the feedback takes over the sound stage…what an ending!

The packaging is great, live shots of Dio and Blackmore on the cover with the incredible Ken Kelly art (also did KISS Love Gun) fist grasping the rainbow is eye catching and ICONIC. The rest is live shots of the group individually and together, all capturing the spirit of the band. Some also come with a numbered sticker and pictures on the discs are a constant. Another great Rainbow title from Rising Arrow.    

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