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Elf: Trying To Burn The Sun (remaster)

The third and final album from Elf, Trying To Burn The Sun, found the act that would soon morph into Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow, back on form, the overly diverse, but still good, Carolina County Ball having stretched the band's boundaries a little too far. TTBTS however reined in the less focused elements to deliver a solid heavy rock album still infused with Mickey Lee Soule's piano, but which this time also allowed Steve Edwards' guitar to flourish a little more. Singer Ronnie James Dio, as you'd expect is mighty throughout, a harsher phrasing than before added to his armoury something that would serve him well as he moved onto Rainbow and subsequently Black Sabbath and Dio. Alongside bassist Craig Gruber and drummer Gary Driscoll, percussionist Mark Nauseef was also added to the line-up, although as he alludes to in the excellent liner notes, he never actually appeared on the album, his contributions confined to the band's stage work.

In terms of sound, Trying To Burn The Sun seems much clearer on the heavy, boogie rock it wants to portray, the piano, guitar and drums of "Shotgun Boogie" great fun but still hard hitting, while "Black Swampy Water" is simply a piece of quality, grooving hard rock. In many ways you can almost feel the band unintentionally auditioning to become Rainbow, a similar feel and groove apparent in this track and "Prentice Wood", where they seem much more willing to really put the foot down. Excellently remastered by Andy Pearce and Matt Wortham, the force of this album's atmosphere is much more readily revealed, while Dio's vocals possess real bite. "Wonderworld" shows a more restrained, tender side to the band, strings heightening the experience as they swoop, soar and sting in equal measure. It's the most mature thing on this album and possibly in the band's catalogue, especially when you factor in an excellent solo from Edwards.

That this album quickly disappeared from sight after it's 1975 release is no real surprise, the core of the group, Dio, Soule, Gruber and Driscoll asked to record the single "Black Sheep Of The Family" with ex-Deep Purple man Ritchie Blackmore (album producer and Deep Purple bassist Roger Glover still disappointed he let his ex-band mate beat him to Dio's services as he looked to forge a career outside of Purple. Ironically he'd later join Rainbow... but only after Dio's departure). The sessions quickly turned into an album and then a tour, meaning the record label understandably abandoned any attempts to push a release by a band that for all intents and purposes, no longer existed. Which is a shame because Trying To Burn The Sun finds Elf near the peak of their powers only their self titled debut bettering this collection.

The rest, as the say, is history, Blackmore quickly ditching his newly acquired backing band and eventually Dio, who would continue his vital contribution to the rock and metal world right up to his death in 2010, through Black Sabbath, Dio and Heaven And Hell. Elf maybe never received the same level of success, but as witnessed here, they undoubtedly deserved much more notice than ever came their way.

Track Listing

Added: November 20th 2016
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Trying To Burn The Sun at Cherry Red
Hits: 2508
Language: english

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