Rehearsals 1976: Studio Rehearsals for World Tour 1976 (Rising Arrow-034)
Intro; Over the Rainbow; Kill the King; Mistreated; Sixteenth Century Greensleeves; Catch the Rainbow
This release by Rising Arrow may be considered an intriguing addition to the Rainbow collector’s library. But this characterization may be based more, in this reviewer’s opinion, on the historical value of the recording than the actual recording itself. The title claims to be sourced from the “studio rehearsals” for the 1976 world tour, which may be true, and from the “original master cassette tape belonging to Cozy Powell”, which may also be true based on the picture on the insert of original cassette tapes beside a superimposed picture of Powell. However, a collector seeking this title out should know that it is not a studio quality recording – far from it, actually. In fact, the recording sounds as though it may have been made on a personal, smaller recording device positioned in the room closer to Blackmore’s amp than anyone else. Whatever the machinery used, and considering the marginal sound quality, there are still a number of positive insights to be gained from listening patiently to this recording.
The recording begins with an “intro” that finds the band settling in, but without any real noteworthy commentary or other sounds before “Over the Rainbow” is played but overloaded in the recording and generally not too enjoyable to hear. “Kill the King” has Blackmore nicely up front and playing with inspiration, but with Dio, Powell, Bain, and Carey comparatively distorted and in the back of the mix. The track also ends without the distinctive synchronized finish found in the studio version and live performances, ending instead with a more standardized finish.
Although “Mistreated” has a truncated prelude by Blackmore, it was no less demonstrative; however, Powell’s distinctive bass drum accents are muffled and pretty flat sounding and Dio remains buried with a fair amount of distortion. Still, this rendition of “Mistreated” contained many of the signature aspects that found their way onto stage, only shorter in length. It is nice to hear Dio and Blackmore toward the end of the track working on their harmonic unison with call-and-response interplay heard in concerts such as Osaka on December 9, 1976.
“Sixteenth Century Greensleeves” followed the shortened version of the other songs, recorded in the same quality, but with Blackmore continuing to play out of his mind. Dio sang a number of passages in a lower key, too, which sounded a bit uncharacteristic for his usual energetic efforts. After the track you will be reminded that this is a bootleg – in case you didn’t already know – because there was about 20 seconds of studio chatter that unexpectedly cut into what sounds like a recording off the radio of a ladies’ singing group that was probably recorded over by Powell in reusing the cassettes to capture the rehearsal session. This lasts for about 10 seconds, but certainly should have been removed before marketing this title. The recording then returns to the rehearsal, and Blackmore simply continuing to play beautifully. “Catch the Rainbow” is the last song and it sounds the best out of all tracks, with Dio much more present but still overloaded. And then the recording ends, leaving one to marvel at how much this band improved through their many live performance we’re blessed to have.
At the end of the day, this title is recommended for the Rainbow fan wishing to gain some possible insights into the formative evolution of this great group’s live show. Otherwise, listening to the concert recordings may probably be a better use of your valuable time.