Soundboard Archives 1976 (Darker Than Blue 077/078)
Disc One: (Budokan, Tokyo, Japan, 16 December 1976, Evening Show), Mistreated, Sixteenth Century Greensleeves, Catch the Rainbow
Disc Two: (Koseinenkin Kaikan, Osaka, Japan, 9 December 1976), Over the Rainbow, Kill the King, Mistreated, Purple Haze/Lazy/Man on the Silver Mountain, Blues; (Koseinenkin Kaikan, Osaka, Japan, 8 December 1976), Man on the Silver Mountain, Still I’m Sad, Keyboard Solo, Stargazer
Soundboard Archives 1976by Darker Than Blue presents three different soundboard fragments in phenomenal sound quality which, of course, immediately raises the question about where’s the rest of these sterling recordings? Being that so much of the late Cozy Powell’s personal stash of recordings and video have been doing a slow drip into the bootleg marketplace from Darker Than Blue and other labels, it would not be a surprise if some of this release is sourced from Cozy’s archive. A recent example is Darker Than Blue’s Monsters of Rock 1980 – Rainbow – Definitive Edition, a 3-disc set that contains a DVD “taken from Cozy’s personal video collection”.
On Soundboard Archives 1976, disc one’s recording quality is emphasized by Cozy’s full percussive ensemble, with Blackmore and Dio also up front in the mix. There are no discernible cuts in the mere three tracks on this disc, including between song comments by Dio, suggesting to this reviewer that the rest of this perfect recording is sitting in the hands of others (hoarders) for possible future release, or maybe not, which would be very unfortunate and wrong. Disc two, which contains tracks from back-to-back shows, appears to be from a radio broadcast and is noticeably different in sound quality from disc one, although still undeniably excellent. The discs’ respective differences in sound quality lend further support to the hunch that what’s contained on disc one comes from a different source, and possibly the Powell archive.
But enough with the speculation, the bottom line on this title is that it is absolutely superb and a definite must have for any Rainbow collector. Having had the benefit of previously listening to the show on disc one from the great audience source used on Tarantura’s Risin’, hearing the closeness of that performance now through the soundboard recording is just awesome. The disc arbitrarily starts about midway into Blackmore’s angry, and then melodic, prelude to “Mistreated”, which misses a good portion of his impromptu soloing. Too bad, but what’s here is killer. The echo on parts of Dio’s vocals during the song fades away perfectly amidst the sounds of Blackmore, Bain, Carey and Powell. There is no hiss or distortion, either, which adds to the listening pleasure.
The next track, “Sixteenth Century Greensleeves” is a blistering version that is begun, as always, by Blackmore’s beautiful classical guitar introduction that provides a stark contrast to the stomping heavy metal of this song’s performance. Great stuff, and Powell was particularly inspired, tearing through a number of amazing fills while driving the song’s tempo with his signature double bass and snare drum work. Disc one continues and concludes with “Catch the Rainbow”, once again displaying Dio’s spellbinding vocals with this band’s tight, powerful live rendition of this classic. The only drawback about this first disc is that it ends too soon.
Disc two consists of tracks from 2 shows about 1 week before the show on disc one. Darker Than Blue puts the recording from December 9 before the recording from December 8 on this second disc, which may have been intentional because the tracks from the 9 contain the standard show openers from Rainbow at this time in their history while what’s from the 8 were songs performed later in the show.
In contrast to the uninterrupted recording on disc one, disc two consists of separate tracks that are largely unaccompanied by Dio’s between song banter, making for a different listening experience. This is a minor quibble, though, because the recording quality and performances are stellar. The title comes packaged in a jewel case with attractive glossy inserts of apropos pictures from the era, and is a very welcomed Rainbow release that is recommended to all collectors of this group’s live catalog.