Monsters of Rock 1980 Definitive Edition (Darker Than Blue 074/075/076)
Castle Donington, England – August 16, 1980
CD One: Land of Hope and Glory; Mars; Over the Rainbow; Eyes of the World; Love’s No Friend; Ritchie Solo; Since You’ve Been Gone; Over the Rainbow; Stargazer; Man on the Silver Mountain; Catch the Rainbow
CD Two: Don Airey Keyboard Intro.; Lost In Hollywood; A Light in the Black; Ritchie Solo; Beethoven’s 9; Don Airey Keyboard Solo; Cozy Powell Drum Solo Featuring 1812 Overture; Lost In Hollywood (Reprise); Ritchie Solo; Lazy; All Night Long; Blues;
Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow; Long Live Rock ‘N’ Roll; Kill the King; Long Live Rock ‘N’ Roll (Reprise); Over the Rainbow
DVD: Cozy on young drummer competition, pt. 1; Cozy on young drummer competition, pt. 2; Intro.; Lazy; All Night Long; Catch the Rainbow; Eyes of the World; Ritchie Blackmore Guitar Solo; Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow; Long Live Rock ‘N’ Roll; Kill the King, incl. Guitar Crash; Long Live Rock ‘N’ Roll (reprise)
Darker Than Blue’s release of Rainbow’s Monsters of Rock 1980 – Definitive Editionis an interesting and rather enjoyable title of an audience audio source with a DVD of footage, according to the insert, “taken from the Cozy’s personal video collection.” For this reviewer, the DVD was the initial attraction to this title, and, after listening to the audio and watching the DVD, remains the only likely aspect of this title to be revisited in the future.
CDs one and two are source from a very good audience recording that is somewhat distant but well balanced. 1980 was a transitional period for Rainbow, with Dio continuing his legend in Black Sabbath and Cozy Powell about to be lured away into the Michael Schenker Group, but the Castle Donington production was a major event and Rainbow’s performance was solid as captured on this recording.
A problem for some listeners, however, may be hearing Graham Bonnet attempting to sing “Man on the Silver Mountain” or “Catch the Rainbow”, which he did in the same way he (in this reviewer’s opinion) shouted throughout songs such as “Since You’ve Been Gone” and “All Night Long”. He was charismatic on stage, no doubt, but there was an appealing element of mystique to Dio’s live performance of Rainbow songs that was absolutely lost with Bonnet’s style. Others may feel differently, which is what makes listening to and loving music such a personal experience. The two audio discs on this release give the listener a chance to decide this subject for him or herself.
Disc one starts with non-Rainbow theater music, and it quickly becomes apparent that this recording is from the audience because of the boisterous fans located close to the recorder. They’re excited, and having fun, but the beginning of “Eyes of the World” sounds like it’s 100 miles away, but that improves pretty quickly as the sounds’ clarity and definition take over from the fans’ noise. Blackmore’s work in this set opener is fantastic, and remains so throughout the show. He does a nice classical solo, with some accompaniment by Don Airey with harpsichord, and a beautiful slide version of “Over the Rainbow” before “Stargazer”, which is excellent.
It is Blackmore, for this reviewer, who is the highlight of this show and the recording does a very nice job of capturing his creativity and energy. In case the listener didn’t know this show was performed outdoors (which is shown in a picture in the jewel case tray beneath the DVD), overloading airplane sounds are picked-up during the beginning of “Since You’ve Been Gone” and “Catch the Rainbow”. There is a cut toward the end of “Catch the Rainbow”, just before returning to Bonnet’s shouting the ending lyrics that Dio used to perform so beautifully and artistically. Quite a stark contrast in sound and style.
Disc two is a mishmash of solos and song snippets from “Lost in Hollywood”, “A Light in the Black”, and “Beethoven’s 9th”. Of course, the “Beethoven’s 9th” would later see the light of day as the amazing title track on Rainbow’s Difficult to Curealbum, but it was apparently in its infancy during this 1980 concert. Interesting nonetheless, as was Don Airey’s soloing, which emphasized classical influences much like Blackmore. Bonnet does perform songs such as “Lost in Hollywood” and “All Night Long” consistent with his studio versions, and the recording picks them up well. The concluding audio on the second disc is rough and “Kill the King” is awful as compared to how that song used to launch shows in years past.
The DVD is fun to watch, although somewhat bittersweet given the fact that Cozy Powell was apparently a really cool guy. The first two segments on the DVD are from his participation in a British young drummer competition, which includes him doing a back-and-forth with the 9 year-old drummer who won the anonymous competition. The Rainbow concert footage from Castle Donington is clear and well synced with the audio, but throughout the entire DVD there is a somewhat distracting recurring presence of white streaks on the visuals, somewhat like would occur with old reel-to-reel films. Not a big deal, given what the viewer can see and enjoy.
The titles comes in a fat boy jewel case with very attractive inserts throughout, and is recommended because of its novelty, although there clearly is other live Rainbow material of better quality in performance and sound.