Reviews roundup – Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow vs. Little Caesar vs. Danny Bryant
RITCHIE BLACKMORE’S RAINBOW
Waiting For A Sign
Minstrel Hall Music
A couple of days ago Rainbow released their first new single since 1996. That’s if you don’t include the two singles they released last year. ‘Land of Hope & Glory’ and a re-recorded ‘I Surrender’.
But that aside, this studio recording is to help promote another live album. “Memories in Rock II” is the live album in question, a double live album with a bonus disc of interviews recorded on their 2017 UK mini-tour with his all new band of musicians. This bonus track is basically a bluesy jam which does feature some rather nice guitar work from Mr Blackmore. The arguments over Ronnie Romero on vocals will continue when it comes to the classic material but this tune suits his voice and he turns in a good shift.
We all know it’s a sneaky way of getting die hard collectors to keep buying new versions of old songs and I’m sure it will work. The album is released in 3 formats: a 2CD+DVD set, a 180g 3LP Gatefold vinyl & a 140g 3LP limited edition gatefold blue vinyl, a 180g 3LP Gatefold vinyl & a 140g 3LP limited edition gatefold blue vinyl and in digital format.
I saw Little Caesar on their recent UK tour and they were great. But can they continue the good work on an album of new material?
I first encountered the band in a pub called the Southern back in nineteen mumblety mumble. They had a video jukebox and as it was a bit of a biker hangout at the time they had a good selection of tunes. Even if folk did a get pissed off with me playing ‘Stone In Your Heart’ by Molly Hatchet and ‘Twilight Zone’ by Golden Earring over and over. And over. But one night I was there on my own supping a Newcy Brown when this amazing sound came from the speakers. I looked at the telly and there were Little Caesar playing ‘Chain of Fools’. Sold!
Fast forward several decades and this new release grabs you as well. They’re still plying their self proclaimed “Hanoi Rocks meets Bob Seger” vibe and blast off with ’21 Again’, a rocking good start even if singer Ron Young says he’d rather be 24 as that was a good year. On into a punked up version of the Merle Haggard song ‘Mama Tried’ and there is no doubt that this is going to be a good ride. Albeit a slow one if the bonus track revisit to one of their early nineties singles is anything to go by. Mr Young is in remarkably good voice unlike many of his contemporaries and the whole band seem perfectly in sync with the music and each other.
It’s a little rougher round the edges than in their major label MTV days but that actually suits the music. If you like some soul to go with your hard rock then this is an album you really need to be listening to. Fingers crossed it won’t be long before they revisit the UK but in the meantime crank this up and enjoy.
It’s a sign that you’re getting old when you still think of Danny Bryant as an “up and coming” blues rocker. Then you realise it’s sixteen years since his debut album and over ten years since you first saw him live. Cheesus.
Well he’s back with a new album as befits someone who’s lived life this sees a new depth to his music. It’s his first record since the passing of his father, who played in his band, and Bryant says “I was struck with a deep depression and crippling anxiety and in times like this I have always found salvation within music. So these songs are dark in subject matter, they are about isolation, despair, and dark times. They question things that I previously had never considered.”
And that’s displayed in the music which sees him reaching within to let his feelings and grief out. You have to have an outlet at times like that and I speak as someone who’s been seeing a counsellor since my wife died six months back. Not something I ever thought I’d do but when disaster strikes you do what needs to be done. In the case of Danny Bryant that involves coming up with some of the best songs of his career. I actually find it quite hard to listen to the title track of this release as the pain is all too real. Elsewhere ‘Sister Decline’ and ‘Truth Or Dare’ are the songs that really hit hardest with the only misstep a cover of John Mellencamp’s ‘Someday The Rains Will Fall’, a song I never cared for.
He’s got an enhanced lineup with members of his nine piece Big Band helping flesh out the material to great effect. Add in the fact that he continues, album by album, to improve as a singer and this is the finest of his releases to date. It’s sad that it comes from a terrible place but musically and emotionally this is essential listening for fans of blues into rock.
St Columba’s Hospice Tribute Fund for Linda Hamilton