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Rainbow: Boston 1981

There's a growing trend for bands and record labels to take ownership of long available, unofficial, live recordings, dust them down and give them an official release. Some may see it as a cynical way to squeeze more money out of long loyal fans and yet the demand for this style of retrospective release suggests that the bands and labels have got something right (for a change!). This time Cleopatra Records continue the clamour to get more and more Rainbow related product out there (vinyl box sets, muilt-disc best-of's/rarity collections, Graham Bonnet and Joe Lynn Turner solo retrospective releases and the long hankered after full (almost) headline Rainbow set from the Bonnet fronted Donington performance, all gleefully sucking up any free cash in Blackmore (and beyond) fixated pockets in recent times - you'd think Ritchie was bringing the band out of hibernation…). So with that Bonnet era of Rainbow given a classy live reboot, Boston 1981 finds his replacement, Joe Lynn Turner, stepping into the shoes also once filled by the mighty Ronnie James Dio, and with a version of "Smoke On The Water" thrown in, Ian Gillan. Has there ever been a more scrutinised spot behind the microphone? Good luck Ronnie Romero…

For whatever reason Turner gets a lot of stick from classic rock fans for his time in Rainbow (and more specifically Deep Purple, where he did a seriously good job, by the way), however his three studio albums with the band are top notch commercial rock. Something which in no small part JLT can take huge credit for. The tour this show comes from was Turner's first with the band, drummer Bobby Rondinelli, bassist Roger Glover, keyboard player Don Airey and, obviously, guitarist Ritchie Blackmore completing the line-up. The set picks up four cuts from the line-up's only album together, title track "Difficult To Cure", set opener "Spotlight Kid", "Can't Happen Here" and hit single "I Surrender", while also bringing in two from the Bonnet fronted Down To Earth, "Love's No Friend" and "Lost In Hollywood". It's no surprise that Turner handles all these tracks with ease, his slick, smooth delivery simply perfect for this kind of commercial rock. However where people have issues with the singer's time with Blackmore is his treatment of the Dio and Gillan numbers. Here however it's hard to hear why, the likes of "Man On The Silver Mountain", "Catch The Rainbow" and "Long Live Rock N' Roll" handled with ease – Turner is no Ronnie James Dio, but we'll only ever have one of his kind – while the rendition of "Smoke On The Water" is better than many I've heard Ian Gillan give over the years.

Blackmore and the rest of the band are on top form, a real sense of passion infused into the performances, with none of the 'going through the motions' odour a lot of Blackmore related live releases can give off. The sound throughout is impressive; yes this is a warts and all recording, but actually it's all the better for it, the vibrancy of the set strongly in evidence. The down side however, is that the unofficial releases of this set come with all of Blackmore's ad-libs and solos – and Turner's stage-raps – intact. Here, in an effort to squeeze everything onto a single disc, we are presented just the songs – great though they are – which feels like a missed opportunity.

Rainbow fans have for many years been asking for more releases from the Bonnet and Turner eras of the band, so for two to come along in quick succession really is reason to celebrate. Especially when they are as good as Boston 1981.

Track Listing
1. Spotlight Kid
2. Love's No Friend
3. I Surrender
4. Man On The Silver Mountain
5. Catch The Rainbow
6. Can't Happen Here
7. Lost In Hollywood
8. Difficult To Cure
9. Long Live Rock N' Roll
10. Smoke On The Water

Added: June 5th 2016
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Cleopatra Records
Hits: 1840
Language: english

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