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Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow: Stranger In Us All (remaster)

Very much the forgotten album of the Rainbow catalogue, Stranger In Us All landed in 1995, some twelve years after guitarist Ritchie Blackmore had seemingly put the band to bed after getting Bent Out Of Shape in 1983. That album was the final release to feature the vocal talents of Joe Lynn Turner, the relatively unknown Doogie White (previously of Midnight Blue and La Paz) taking on the role for this unexpected outing; Blackmore having left Deep Purple for the final time after 1993's The Battle Rages On. His band this time was filled out by with ex-Doro keyboard man Paul Morris, the much traveled bassist Greg Smith (Wendy O Williams, Blue Oyster Cult, Dokken) and drummer John O'Reilly, who had already been ejected by the time the line-up toured their one and only album together.

Having already seen Rainbow evolve through the mystical Hard Rock of the Ronnie James Dio era and the more chart fixated Graham Bonnet and Joe Lynn Turner years, Blackmore didn't quite seem to know whether to stick or twist with Stranger In Us All. Instead this album straddles both those styles by darting between catchy melodic rock and a tougher, rougher Classic Rock shove. Credit to White, his ability to dart between the two an underrated aspect in making this album the success people often forget it is. The early Rainbow surge of "Hall Of The Mountain King" the Edvard Grieg piece reimagined by Blackmore captures the band's trademark enigmatic ability to mix classical, medieval themes with a cutting rock hit, White positively thriving in a setting that would have found the late, great Ronnie James Dio in his element. The same can also be said for the pounding romp of "Black Masquerade", which somehow incorporates the more commercial glint that the band's Difficult To Cure album captured so ably, and toughens it up quite considerably. It's a theme that "Wolf To The Moon" takes in the opposite direction, moulding that JLT era sound into a more obvious classic rock shape, White also comfortable in this slightly softer setting.

Not quite so convincing is the slower "Hunting Humans", although some of Blackmore's more understated guitar punctuations still cut through keenly. However the more obvious, commercial cuts such as "Stand And Fight" and "Too Late For Tears" come much closer to hitting the bull's eye. With "Ariel" an enigmatic Middle Eastern shimmer and "Silence" adding a little dark drama, it's fair to suggest that timing, rather than songs was this album's undoing. Not even the man in black able to stem the tide of grunge that was sweeping all in its path.

With a strong remaster and, as ever from Cherry Red/HNE, interesting liner notes, the extras also come in the shape of the staccato guitar pulse of the album's original Japanese bonus cut, "Emotional Crime", a smoothed out 'radio edit' of "Ariel" which loses some of its enigmatic appeal in the process and a live take from the time of "The Temple Of The King". White handling the originally Dio sung track with confidence. The main event however remains an underrated album that is overshadowed by Rainbow quickly dissolving soon afterwards, Blackmore disbanding the outfit due to (refuted) contractual problems with some of his band members. He vowed never to return to Rainbow, or rock music in general, pointing his talents instead at the Renaissance sounds of Blackmore's Night. However, two decades after Rainbow ended, they've returned, Blackmore again recruiting a new band and singer to hit the road once more. Will Stranger In Us All be the band's last studio album? Well some new music has just been announced! But one thing's for sure, if it is, it's a fitting way to close a truly outstanding legacy. It may not quite hit the heights of much of what came before, but let's be honest, not much does, does it?


Track Listing
1. WOLF TO THE MOON
2. COLD HEARTED WOMAN
3. HUNTING HUMANS (Insatiable)
4. STAND AND FIGHT
5. ARIEL
6. TOO LATE FOR TEARS
7. BLACK MASQUERADE
8. SILENCE
9. HALL OF THE MOUNTAIN KING
10.STILL I'M SAD
BONUS TRACKS
11.EMOTIONAL CRIME (Japan Bonus Track)
12.ARIEL (Radio Edit)
13.THE TEMPLE OF THE KING (Live)

Added: June 4th 2017
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Score:
Related Link: Stranger In Us All at Cherry Red
Hits: 309
Language: english

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