RITCHIE BLACKMORE’S RAINBOW – Memories In Rock II (2018 Minstrel Hall Music Japanese edition)
Blackmore’s new Rainbow lineup has already released three live albums! So which one should you buy? The one with the new song, of course. And if you prefer the whole enchilada, then the only option is to score the Japanese version of 2018’s Memories In Rock II, which has not only that new song, but two other new recordings that were only available on iTunes. Any serious Rainbow fan should consider buying the album from Japan in order to score these tunes, on CD for the first time ever. It’s only money!
This album is a sequel to 2016’s Memories In Rock. Blackmore and Company listened to the fans, who complained that they were playing too many Deep Purple hits, and so the setlist was revamped. “Highway Star” was dropped and “Spotlight Kid” was moved to the opening slot. “Sixteenth Century Greensleeves” was worked in. The tweaks are minor, but Memories In Rock II is fresher for it.
Singer Ronnie Romero is fabulous, juggling the songs of multiple lead singers himself. Whether he’s singing Gillan, Coverdale, Dio, Bonnet or Turner, Ronnie sounds comfortable. The truth is that Ritchie Blackmore struck gold when he found this guy. As for the man in black himself, age may have mellowed him a little bit. The riffs don’t bite as hard, and sometimes the solos are thriftier than they used to be. Sometimes Ritchie’s noodling around rather than riffing. That’s fine because Rainbow is his band and he should play exactly how he wants to play.
There are a couple treats dropped into the set. First is “I Surrender”, which Ronnie Romero re-recorded for the iTunes single. It and “Since You’ve Been Gone” are the most pop of set, offering short but necessary reprieves from the more advanced jamming tunes. The other surprise is “Carry On Jon” from the 2013 Blackmore’s Night album Dancer and the Moon. Of course it’s a tribute to Jon Lord, Ritchie’s old Deep Purple bandmate who died in 2012. It’s a lovely tune and the crowd settles right down to listen.
Another fine Rainbow double live album. The cover is a redux of Rainbow Rising and that’s a little confusing, but the performance is more important. This is a dandy of a show for the current version of the band.
The lucky Japanese fans got a triple CD, with a bonus disc featuring three studio songs. “Waiting for a Sign” is brand new. Richie wrote it with Candice Night, his wife and singer in Blackmore’s Night. It sounds a bit like Bad Company, being a laid back bluesy rock tune. They can still come up with the goods. “Waiting for a Sign” is the kind of song that would have fit on any Rainbow album fronted by Joe Lynn Turner. This track can be found on all versions of Memories in Rock II.
In 2017 Blackmore said, “Rather than make an album, we may release singles.” And so that year they put out “Land of Hope and Glory” (an instrumental) backed by “I Surrender”. Some in a certain age bracket might know “Land of Hope and Glory” as the theme song for late wrestler “Macho Man” Randy Savage. Rainbow’s version features a lead violin and acoustic guitars. The other track was “I Surrender”, a re-recording of the old Rainbow pop classic. It was Ronnie Romero’s first studio recording with Rainbow, and a good one it is. No question: he is the right guy for Blackmore. Together, these two songs frustrated fans who really would have liked to get something original from Rainbow, but they got their wish now with “Waiting for a Sign”.
Don’t miss this one. It’s OK if you skipped the previous two live Rainbow albums, but Memories In Rock II is the one to get, particularly the Japanese import.