I have to admit that I was one of the doubters who didn’t believe Blackmore’s Night would last this long. Along with many I thought Blackmore would play around with it for a few years before getting bored. How wrong I was. Blackmore’s Night is now in its eleventh year, which is two years longer than Rainbow or his second stint in Deep Purple lasted, and four years longer than the initial stay with Purple. How’s that for longevity. It may have been a slow process but Blackmore has finally got the music world to take him and his medieval minstrelness seriously. Blackmore’s Night now have their own large fanbase and are in no way reliant on the past glories of Purple or Rainbow to sell concert tickets or albums. Of course there will always be the odd idiot at concerts shouting out for ‘Smoke On The Water’ but they are becoming fewer with each passing year. It is possible to appreciate the gentle folkiness of Blackmore’s Night and the lightning rock solo’s of the seventies. One doesn’t affect the other. The fact that Blackmore nowadays wants to play a gentler folky traditional type of music is no different to Jon Lord wanting to play his classical music. I’ve never really understood the problem some people seem to have with it, after all no-one villifies Lord for exploring his love of Bach. Blackmore and Lord were the greatest guitar/organ combo in rock and nothing they do now can ever take away from that. Yes, it is very different in style but a good musician is a good musician and I personally think it is better for them to be creating new music, even if it is totally different, rather than half heartedly hammering out tired old riffs they have lost interest in.
‘Secret Voyage’ kicks off with the rousing instrumental ‘God Save The Keg’. It is almost Blackmore’s Night’s ‘Difficult To Cure’. I can imagine it being extended in a live setting and proves that Blackmore can still hack it with the best guitarists the world can offer. It sets the mood perfectly for the rest of the album and almost has you reaching for a pewter tankard. ‘Locked Within The Crystal Ball’ is classic Blackmore’s Night at its best with a great blend of medieval mood and rock rhythm. The hook will stay in your head long after the CD is back in its case. It is the high point of the album without doubt. ‘Gilded Cage’ sees Blackmore going all Spanish on the acoustic whilst the European tour moves on to a Greek wedding for ‘Toast To Tomorrow’. The instrumental ‘Prince Waldecks Galliard’
is a pleasant enough typically Blackmore solo piece.
One of the surprises on the album is the re-working of the Rainbow track ‘Rainbow Eyes’. Strangely this version is faster than the original Dio version. Were it not for the lyric you would not think it was the same song. The other non original track on the album is a cover of the Elvis Presley track ‘Can’t Help Falling In Love’ and whilst it is decent enough I can’t understand why it has been included. It doesn’t fit with the rest of the album at all and is also played at a ridiculous pace.
‘Sister Gypsy’, ‘Peasants Promise’, and ‘Empty Words’ are standard Blackmore’s Night fayre and better than your average filler despite the grammatical error in the lyric of the latter. ‘The Circle’ makes great use of a choir and ‘Far Far Away’ has a particularly pleasing melody.
Overall then another good solid album which will please Blackmore’s Night fans and has just enough of the strat on it to tease and infuriate those who want Blackmore to return to rock.
© Martin Leedham. Originally published on RYM October 2008