Released 45 years ago (4th August 1975) this album marked Ritchie Blackmore’s departure from Deep Purple, after he became more disillusioned during recent recordings and tours. Allegedly he disliked the funkier elements of Purples later songs and wanted to return to a hard rock approach including suggesting the song Black Sheep of the Family as a cover for the band to try. This song then made its way onto his first album with Rainbow.
Initially the band consisted mainly of the US group Elf featuring their singer Ronnie James Dio. It has been suggested that the group/ album was meant to be a joint headliner of Ritchie Blackmore and Ronnie James Dio’s Rainbow – not exactly something that would roll of the tongue! However, the combination of Dio’s voice and Blackmore’s guitar laid the basis for the band’s next few albums. After recording the album, Blackmore sacked everyone apart from Dio and built the classic line-up of Blackmore, Dio, Cozy Powell, Jimmy Bain and Tony Carey – but even that line up didn’t last long as Blackmore continued to routinely replace band members.
Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow features some classic tracks which remained in the live sets of all future versions of Rainbow and even in Blackmore’s Night. These include Sixteenth Century Greensleeves and Man on the Silver Mountain.
This album highlighted Blackmore’s ability to create a band that would support his playing – although he never quite managed to get someone to recreate Jon Lord’s role (the closest was maybe Don Airey in a later formation of Rainbow). Despite the main members of Elf only being used in the recording and not getting to play any of the tracks live, it still manages to come across as an excellent example of classic rock. But then again, any album with the combined talents of Ritchie Blackmore and Ronnie James Dio would only ever sound classic!