REVIEW: Rainbow – Straight Between the Eyes (1982)

scan_20160911RAINBOW – Straight Between the Eyes (Remastered, originally 1982 Polydor)

I’ve always found the most interesting bands in rock to be the ones who have had multiple singers over different eras.  Blackmore’s Rainbow never did two albums in a row by the same lineup.  From Ronnie James Dio to Graham Bonnet to Joe Lynn Turner and beyond, Rainbow has been an ever-changing entity during its brief lives.  Each era has much to offer, with the Turner years sometimes slagged as the weakest.  It is true that ballads became a larger part of the Rainbow sound under Joe, but the turn towards the commercial was evident during the Graham Bonnet era, on Down to Earth.

The peak of the Turner period would have to be Straight Between the Eyes, his second with the band.  The lineup this time consisted of founder Ritchie Blackmore, with Roger Glover on bass (his third Rainbow record), drums by Bobby Rondinelli (his second) and new keyboardist David Rosenthal, replacing Don Airey.  Rondinelli is a remarkably hard-hitting drummer and his solid, massive beats propel the songs.  The finest example of this is “Death Alley Driver”, which could easily be seen as an updated version of “Highway Star” from a decade earlier. The amusing video clip featured Joe Lynn Turner on a motorcycle being chased perilously close by a pilgrim-hatted Blackmore in a hearse!* “Death Alley Driver” indeed!**

Although “Death Alley Driver” is the first track, the soulful ballad “Stone Cold” was the first single. It was a minor hit and still gets radio play today. The integrity lies in Ritchie’s smooth guitar, Joe’s always authentic vocals, and the classy organ backing it up. The song’s strength is in its unmistakable pulse, which is Rondinelli and Glover’s impeccable rhythm. Blackmore fans may have been aghast at the soft rock single, but “Stone Cold” holds up as a classy ballad from a spanking album.

Sadly the music video was not the humorous pleasure the “Death Alley Driver” was. Turner looks stiff**^ and awkward searching through a hall of mirrors looking for a girl with a frozen face.  Blackmore just looks disinterested.

Straight Between the Eyes was produced by Roger Glover, as were the previous two albums.  With Bobbi Rondinelli behind the kit, Glover extracted an even bigger drum sound, and it is up in the mix.  Each track boasts a massive beat, even the ballads like “Tearin’ Out My Heart”.  He provides a gallop, and that’s the extra kick the songs get.  The album would not have been as forceful with a different drummer.

So as Joe sings it, “Let the Dream Chaser take you away” if you want to get “Rock Fever”!  The album can be found affordable so it won’t be a “Tite Squeeze” on your wallet.  Feel the “Power” and “Bring on the Night”!  It’ll rock you “Stone Cold”.**^^

4/5 stars


* Something about that action-packed music video makes the music seem faster and heavier.

** During the Blackmore closeups inside the hearse, pay attention to the rear window behind him. You can clearly see from the trees behind that the car is not moving an inch!

**^ Cue Aaron.

**^^ These are all good songs.  No real duds on Straight Between Eyes.

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42 comments

        1. Oh man. Sorry to hear about the shitter at work. I’m sick right now so I needed some Rainbow too. I rocked On Stage today in the car.

          YES Bobby was one of the names dropped for the Kiss slot, and so was Aynsley Dunbar! What would THAT have sounded like?? Bobby I could see because he has the Eric Carr vibe and I believe he’s also a new yawker.

          Liked by 1 person

        2. I really need to get On Stage… a big gap there!

          Didn’t know about Aynsley! I think Rondinelli would have worked great in 80s KISS… hard hitter like Carr. Dunno if he can sing though, reckon Eric’s voice (and charm) might have swung it his way.

          Liked by 1 person

  1. This album was my first intro to Rainbow in 82 so it’s my fav…Love the sonics! It was also featured on my Pickin Lebrains Week as I hadn’t reviewed any Rainbow yet!
    Hope they pump out something live from this tour in audio like the Boston 1981!
    Man Mikey is your site ever looking spiffy now….In the reader I have to click the link to your site to get the full meal deal now!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I once said “If I could sing like anyone in the world, it would be JLT”. I think that’s still true. He’s very versatile as a singer. I just got the Rainbow Boston ’81 CD that Deke mentioned and he’s able to do it all.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. It’ll come as no surprise to you that I’m not familiar with this one. I think the only Rainbow stuff I have is live recordings and I haven’t really had much of a listen to it. Anyhoo, this one sounds pretty good …

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I come here for the information, but I stay for the word play! Excellent, another Rainbow release for me to watch for… life is good!

    Wanted to add, I’m digging the new layout. It takes me one extra click in the reader to get here (I have to choose to see the full post, where the old one had the whole text at one click) but it’s no biggie, other sites have that too. It looks sharp!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha, sometimes I wonder the same about obscure movies you cover!
      The answer is Deep Purple. Two of these guys are Deep Purple members. Later the singer joined Deep Purple and the drummer joined Black Sabbath. There are umpteen bands in the DP family!

      Like

  4. I saw Joe Lynn Turner a couple of years ago. What does he have in common with Jeff Beck, Steve Hackett, and Ritchie Blackmore? The fact that it is at least possible that they have been wearing toupets for years.

    More discussion here: https://heavymetaloverload.com/2015/09/09/incoming-the-ritchie-blackmore-story-2dvd2cd/

    Tina Turner, now married to a German record-company executive named Erwin Bach and living in Switzerland practicing buddhism, said that when she takes off her wig, no-one recognizes her, so it’s no problem at all being famous. :-)

    Liked by 1 person

  5. A good record, but a bit uneven, I think. I never really got into Stone Cold, it’s too cheesy, I think. I think Bring On The Night and Eyes Of Fire are the stand-out tracks from this record.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jompa as usual thank you for these awesome comments.

      You named two really awesome songs there. Eyes of Fire really sort of foreshadows what would come later with Slaves and Masters, an album I like a lot.

      Like

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