Here at last is the first Blackmore's Night live album and a great one at that. Blackmore's Night have released three studio albums thus far, each one highly recommended in its own way. Happily, outside the constraints of the studio, their songs take on a new life.
Recorded in a castle in Groningen Holland, the performance is intimate and lively, with lead vocalist Candice Night frequently interacting with the smallish audience in a refreshingly down to earth manner. I admit that Ritchie Blackmore is probably my favorite guitarist of all time and fans of his guitar work won't be disappointed. True, he sticks mainly to the acoustic guitar but his style is so distinctive, his playing so passionate that frankly I don't miss him playing the electric guitar, though he does pull it out on occasion during Past Times With Good Company.
Unlike many live albums, which simply regurgitate old songs in front of studio enhanced live audiences, Past Times With Good Company features some new arrangements and extended versions of songs like album opener "Shadow of the Moon", "Play Minstrel Play" and "Fires at Midnight". There are also a few obscurities from Ritchie Blackmore's past, including a lovely "Soldier of Fortune" from Deep Purple's much maligned Stormbringeralbum as well as a completely different take on Rainbow's "16th Century Greensleeves". The CD booklet claims that the performance was recorded live "mistakes and all!" but you'd be hard pressed to find too many mistakes as the recording quality is simply immaculate. Listening to this CD, I never feel as though there is any studio trickery whatsoever.
Past Times With Good Company is a real treat for Blackmore's Night fans. For beginners, this is a great place to start as I find these live versions to be so much more rousing than their studio counterparts. I challenge anyone to not fall in love with this band after hearing their performance. Kick back, open a pint or three of your favorite ale and be swept away by Blackmore's Night's magical romantic vibe.