Budokan Dai Hall, Tokyo, Japan – December 16, 1976 Evening Show
Disc 1 (61:12) Over The Rainbow, Kill The King, Mistreated, Sixteenth Century Greensleeves, Catch The Rainbow, Man On The Silver Mountain / Blues / Starstruck / Man On The Silver Mountain (reprise)
Disc 2 (55:04) Keyboard Intro, Stargazer, Still I’m Sad incl. Keyboard Solo, Drum Solo incl. 1812 Overture, Still I’m Sad (reprise), Do You Close Your Eyes, Over The Rainbow
By 1975 Ritchie Blackmore had tired of Deep Purple, the collective musical direction had shifted and no longer feeling inspired by his bandmates, he would seek his vision elsewhere. He would not have to look far, the American rock act Elf was a steady opening act for Purple and a friendship with their lead singer was formed. While short in stature, Ronnie James Dio possessed the voice of a God, as well as a deep literary style that would go on to define lyrical songwriting in the Hard Rock and emerging Heavy Metal musical genres. When one ponders the thought, the pairing of Blackmore and Dio is as significant as Lennon/ McCartney, Jagger / Richards, Page / Plant in its significance. They would originally use Elf as a backing band for the first record, Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow, once the record was released, Blackmore began a search for a core group that possessed the musical chops to take his vision to reality. Cozy Powell on Drums, Jimmy Bain on Bass, and Tony Carey on Keyboards would join Blackmore and Dio and after a short round of live dates, begin working on their magnum opus, Rising.
Rainbow would tour the major world markets, America first, followed by an extensive European tour, then Australia and finally Japan. There are several official documents from these tours, three German dates were released by Hummingbird / AFM Records, Koln, Dusseldorf, and Nurnburg in 2006 as well as a compilation of these dates called Live In Europe. Material from Germany and Japan would compile the official double LP release On Stage released in 1977. For me, the three German concerts are essential as they are complete concerts. There is a Deluxe Edition of On Stage that contains bonus material from the group’s famed evening performance at Tokyo’s Budokan Dai Hall in December 1976 (mistakenly labeled as Osaka December 9). For me, the 10 date Japanese tour in December 1976 is perfection. The Japanese fans would embrace Rainbow with a passion not rivaled in other countries.
The final day in Japan would feature two concerts in one day, December 16, 1976. The evening show would be the subject of many a bootleg title. The End Of Rising (Darker Than Blue DTB-041/042), When Evening Falls (Rising Arrow-007), Soundboard Archives 1976 (Darker Than Blue 077/078), Branded To Kill (Rising Arrow-042), Rising Falls (Rising Arrow-046), Risin’ (Tarantura TCDRAINBOW-1-1,2), The Closing Night (Tarantura TCDNIJIFUNE-10-1,2), An Evening In December (Calm & Storm 010), and Budokan 76 Final Night (Rising Arrow-055) all feature recordings from this performance. There are at least four audience recordings and soundboard fragments that circulate.
For me, the Tarantura title The Closing Night would be tops in terms of sound, taken from a recording by the famous Mr. Peach, to me the mix of music to audience was perfect and other than the other Tarantura title, Risin’ featuring the Song Brothers source, what else would one need? I saw the announcement of this title from Rising Arrow and wow, another release of this concert made me look but not bite, that is until a member of this forum I had not heard from emailed me and gave his opinion. Needless to say it was on my next order.
First off I usually stray from this type of release as it contains officially released material. Most of CD 1 and the encore of Do You Close Your Eyes are found on the Deluxe Edition of Rainbow On Stage, the quality is excellent as one would expect. The bulk of the second disc is from a cassette from the Cozy Powell archives that came to collectors circles after his untimely death in 1998. This soundboard is just a step down in quality, has a small bit of tape hiss and not as dynamic as the first but is still in the excellent range, if the first disc was an A+, the second would be an A. There are a couple gaps filled with an audience source, the Over The Rainbow intro, a gap at the 7:53 mark of the 1812 Overture drum solo to the :23 mark of the Still I’m Sad reprise, a 13 second bit of Blackmore at the beginning of the encore and the Over The Rainbow outro. I checked the Song Brothers and Peach sources, it is definitely not them. The quality of the audience source is excellent and the timbre fits in well with the Cozy source. The source edits are seamless and very well done as is the mastering employed by Rising Arrow, they have successfully given us the most complete version of the concert from soundboard.
First off, this is a title that deserves to be played loudly. I was really surprised by how much I enjoyed this concert from the soundboard, although I shouldn’t be, it is an excellent performance. The whole first disc is excellent and so well played. Knowing that the band had these recordings with a performance of this caliber makes me question how they didn’t use more from this concert as it bristles with energy. Kill The King is aggressive, Mistreated is at its mournful best and the version of Catch The Rainbow is stunningly beautiful. There are times during the concert where you hear small things being played that sound differently in the audience sources, Blakmore’s solo in Stargazer is incredible, I know its his effects but you swear it’s two guitars playing, like a snake dancing to a spell charmer, weaving in and out of the smoke drifting around you…
The packaging is a direct rip off from the original On Stage, the background black and one wonders if this is the On Stage Black album. The front and interior inserts all have the same picture montage as the official, the Cd has the front cover picture on them and you also get the numbered collectors sticker as well. First off many thanks to Hager for giving me the heads up on this release, it was well worth tracking down. It has certainly not taken the place of the Peach recording in my eyes, but certainly passes the mustard in having another version of this concert in such quality. Nice packaging, excellent quality and mastering, what else needs to be said?