When Deep Purple disbanded and from its ashes arose the glowing star that first became Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow, then Blackmore's Rainbow and finally just Rainbow, the world had gained another grade A act. With undeniable talent in the form of Ronnie James Dio's voice and Blackmore's guitar playing and songwriting, they have created many a memorable tune. After several albums that went far beyond mere excellence, Ronnie James Dio was kicked out of the band. In came Graham Bonnett. Out went Bonnett. In came Joe Lynn Turner. Rainbow stopped, and reunited several years later.

None questions the fact that Rainbow's finest albums were all made when Ronnie was still in the fold. That is probably the reason that 8 of the 12 tracks on "Catch the Rainbow - a Tribute to Rainbow" in fact stem from those efforts. A good choice, even though it does mean that vocalists will inevitably fail to attain Dio's incredible voice and instantly recognizable style.

The album is played by a variety of musicians, though most vocals are done by Henne Basse (of Metalium fame) and most guitars are played by Guido Bungenstock (who doesn't seem to be in a band). Now Henne Basse is a power metal vocalist and he's my main gripe with the album: He just isn't fit to sing Ronnie James Dio's style. On "Lost in Hollywood" he outsings the originally atrocious Graham Bonnett and on the Japanese bonus track "Lady of the Lake" he really shines, but on the other seven tracks he contributes to he just doesn't quite cut it. In general, the tracks on this tribute album sound pretty faithful to the originals, with especially the guitarists doing very capable jobs. Production-wise, the rather 'fatter' Martin Birch approach might have been used a bit more here and there, but otherwise this is a really good album. There's a fine version of "Stargazer", a cool "Spotlight Kid" (though the keyboards aren't too inspired) and "Man on the Silver Mountain", a sensitive "Rainbow Eyes", a musically well executed "Eyes of the World" (where the vocalist - Uli "Helloween" Kusch - is a lot like Graham Bonnett, i.e. mediocre) and a nice "Still I'm Sad" (though vocalist Ralf "Primal Fear" Scheepers doesn't contribute positively).

On the whole, "Catch the Rainbow - a Tribute to Rainbow" is an album made by a bunch of good musicians who really love Rainbow. It shows. Vocalists aren't always good, but musically it's all, as we may sometimes be heard to say in Holland, "fat in order". The Jap version has "Lady of the Lake" which is, apart from the less subtle guitar work, one of the climaxes of the album. Worth getting.

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Written December 1999


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