Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring (TCDNIJIFUNE-7-1, 2)
Monday, December 13, 1976, at Fukuoka-Kyudenkinen-Taiikukan
Disc 1: Setting / Tuning; Opening; Over The Rainbow; Start; Kill The King; MC; Guitar Solo; Mistreated; MC; Greensleeves; 16th Century Greensleeves; MC / about Rainbow Arch; Ave Maria; Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring; Catch The Rainbow; MC; Lazy; Improvisation; Man On The Silver Mountain; Starstruck; Man On The Silver Mountain
Disc 2: MC; Keyboard Solo; Stargazer; Guitar Solo; Stargazer; Still I’m Sad; Keyboard Solo; Drums Solo; 1812 Overture; Still I’m Sad; Guitar Solo; Do You Close Your Eyes; Over The Rainbow; Announcement
These are bountiful times for fans of Rainbow’s magnificent body of live work, and of the band’s first tour of Japan in December, 1976. Tarantura have made an especially devoted effort to present Rainbow’s devastating string of shows that month.
The first show was in Tokyo on December 2, 1976, and was released by Tarantura in April, 2009, on the 2-disc title Uijin’ sourced from original master cassettes from Aquarius. Previously, in December, 2007, Tarantura released Risin’, the evening counterpart to Rainbow’s afternoon performance in Tokyo on December 16, 1976. That title was sourced from original master cassettes from Song Brothers. Then, in April, 2009, Tarantura released Foojin’, the afternoon show on December December 16, which was from Aquarius’s original master cassettes and presented in a lavish, amazing box designed to hold both Risin’ and Foojin’. In December, 2009 – January, 2010, Tarantura released the amazing Ave Maria, which presented Rainbow’s December 14, 1976 Hiroshima concert sourced from the original cassettes of Mr. Peach.
The most recent release in this catalogue is Tarantura’s Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring, which is the December 13, 1976 concert at Fukuoka. Mr. Peach cassettes once again provide the staggering sound source for this latest title, and they are displayed on the inside of the beautiful glossy jacket containing the 2 picture discs. The picture of Ritchie Blackmore on the face of the jacket is tremendous, especially when opened to display it in full. It’s also suggestive of the type of aggression lurking in Rainbow’s 1976 music, and concerts. What can be comfortably written about Rainbow’s live shows early in their career is that they were heavy, and sometimes exceedingly so. The December 2, 1976 show, for example, included a riot during Blackmore’s prelude to “Mistreated”. Although not reflected on the track listing for the Fukuoka show, I would not be surprised to learn if there was also rioting at that concert, as detailed below.
“Kill the King” starts the show in typical high-flying fashion, with Blackmore’s solo clearly discernable midway through the track. Then the weirdness began with the show, during Dio’s comments between “Kill the King” and “Mistreated”, as there was increased crowd noise suggesting a disturbance. Dio introduces “Mistreated”, which usually found Blackmore soloing freely until he decided to start the song’s opening riffs, but here it cuts in straight into his thrash riffing, but only lasts 19 seconds, and is disjointed. There was clearly something happening in front of the stage, with Blackmore holding notes a little longer and there being wild audience sounds occurring at the same time. It had to be an amazing scene, and Mr. Peach’s recording captured all of that ambiance perfectly. Of note in the recording were the prominence of Powell’s drums and Tony Carey’s keyboards, but in “Mistreated” it was Dio and Blackmore riding the song into the stratosphere.
The apparent crowd disturbance continued into “16 Century Greensleeves”, once again finding Blackmore getting distracted during the greensleeves opening as you can hear some madness from far away in the audience. And while those struggling sounds can be heard, Blackmore somehow drifted away with his creative soloing – awesome and a bit disorienting at the same time. The song was as heavy as ever, with Powell kicking some serious booty with his driving double-bass, snare drum patterns accented by huge fills around the kit. And Blackmore’s two solos during the song are as individualized as ever. Up to this point, the show was tremendous.
Schubert’s “Ave Maria” was performed next, and followed by a beautiful rendition by Blackmore of Bach’s “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring”. However, during the Bach piece 2 muffled explosions are heard from a distance in the audience, with a bit more rustling apparently going on. Nonetheless, “Catch the Rainbow” was performed with conviction and power, evidencing a drive in the group that would become even more significant during “Stargazer”. It is unknown to this reviewer who introduced “Man on the Silver Mountain” before the group performed their amped-up snippet of Deep Purple’s “Lazy”, as it was usually always Dio. Impromptu vocal soloing by Dio during “Man on the Silver Mountain”, with gentle accompanying strumming by Blackmore, extended the mystical theme about a mountain and love, and received a compliment from a band member before they launched into the portion of “Starstruck” always dropped into the “Man on the Silver Mountain” on-stage composition.
Carey’s solo happens next, first with captivating synthesizer and space effects that were followed by his signature medieval, pipe organ soloing that was a perfect stage setter for “Stargazer”. It was during that song that things got their strangest and heaviest during the concert. The recording perfectly captured the song’s power, after Powell’s closed snare drum roll lead the group into the opening lines. “High noon, I’d sell my soul for water” was belted out by Dio, with Carey’s keys nicely up in the mix to accent Blackmore and Bain, but then Dio started to seriously fall apart. “Hot wind moving fast across the desert, we feel that our time has arrived”, and the following lyrics usually sung with such power and conviction were, instead, spoken in a distracting monotone by Dio. He continued with that bizarre spoken lyric through his usually soaring vocals, including “now, where do we go?” that lead to Blackmore’s solo.
This apparently even caught Blackmroe off guard because there was a slight delay in him starting to solo. But there was absolutely no delay, or relent, in Powell, who drove the song into the solo section with incredibly powerful, dedicated playing. Then Blackmore locked-in and the solo section – which included him thrashing, sliding, and exploring – was extended, amazing, and captivating. That was possibly done to allow Dio to resolve his issues because, after the break in the song where Blackmore soloed with echo and other stunning affects, Dio returned to sing the remainder of “Stargazer” in his usual strong fashion. Strange, to put it mildly, and all caught perfectly in this recording. Blackmore played another nasty solo before taking the band into another heavy “Still I’m Sad”, which contained Powell’s solo spot, and then “Do You Close Your Eyes” served as the show closer. But, by that point in the show, emotions were apparently running so high on stage that things seemed to start to get out of hand with chaotic soloing by Blackmore. To add to the weirdness, Carey and Bain would be fired from the band within weeks of this show.
Almost needless to say, this Rainbow concert recording was another example of how amazing that group was during that period in time, and why their popularity remains high among collectors today. Tarantura have, once again, produced an absolutely scorching winner with this title. A pristine recording from the audience of a concert that, if heard only via soundboard, would not allow a listener to more fully experience the uniqueness of what happened in the concert hall. Rainbow collectors should seek out this title and hope that Tarantura continues to provide total winners like this release.