Rainbow- Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow (1975): 4 May 2020

Rainbow – Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow (1975)

Welcome back to YDCS! We’ve got an interesting album on the table this week, the studio debut from the band Rainbow titled Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow. Rainbow is a group that a lot of people aren’t familiar with, even if they recognize Richie Blackmore’s name. Blackmore was the lead guitarist for Deep Purple through the mid-70s before breaking off to form his own group with members of Deep Purple’s opening act, Elf (of whom Ronnie James Dio was the lead vocalist). Blackmore would go on to record this album with the members of Elf before firing everyone except for Dio, rehiring the rest of the band, and continuing to tour and record as Rainbow. Blackmore was notoriously difficult to please and went so far as to fire band members who he didn’t feel were contributing meaningfully to the band. As a result, he has been the only consistent fixture of Rainbow since the band’s formation.

Rainbow was known for more fantastical lyrics than Deep Purple had been, combining heavy metal and fantasy into a proto-prog metal genre. Rainbow feels like a more grown up version of Deep Purple in a sense, where there’s still plenty of heavy sound but the band got more experimental. Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow is a cool album that has lots of great rock moments. The whole record is a hidden gem in a genre that likes to sing the praises of acts AC/DC, Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, and Motorhead. If you’ve never listened to Rainbow before but like Deep Purple, Dio, or the early Scorpions then you should definitely check this album out. Enjoy Rainbow’s debut album, Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow!

Dad’s Thoughts- The Breakdown

Man On The Silver Mountain: We start of Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow with one of the band’s most popular songs, “Man On The Silver Mountain.” This track is one of the most heavily influenced by Blackmore’s time with Deep Purple. It has a distinctly heavy sound that doesn’t carry through the rest of the album. Dio’s vocals on this track are one of his best performances on the record and show why he was such a good rock vocalist. Really good track. Dad’s Rating 7/10

Self Portrait: “Self Portrait” is the start of something new for Blackmore et al. This is a track that would have never made it with his old group and shows an increased focus on lyricism. “Self Portrait” is could be considered an early power ballad too. It’s got elements of strong vocals, introspective lyrics, and heavy guitar between the verses. It’s not the best song on the album, and I think there’s another ballad that captured the band better, but it’s a decent song. Dad’s Rating 6/10

Black Sheep Of The Family: This is the song that started Rainbow. Blackmore initially pitched “Black Sheep Of The Family” to Deep Purple, but the band didn’t want to record it, so he wet and recorded it himself! I like that “Black Sheep Of The Family” shows that Rainbow was more than power chords and flimsy lyrics; they had the ability to be melodic and do something different than your typical heavy metal group. Musically, I’m actually not a fan of this song, but I do like that they tried something new. Dad’s Rating 5/10

Catch The Rainbow: When I first heard “Catch The Rainbow” I thought I might have started a Pink Floyd song on accident, particularly on the opening instrumental. “Catch The Rainbow” is one of the best ballads that I’ve listened to in a long time. The instrumentation is haunting and the vocals are beautifully smooth. I’m not a big lyrics person, but talking about chasing the rainbow and never catching it makes me wonder if Starcastle was recording in the next studio over. This is a song to sit back to and let it envelop you. You feel the pain and the sadness in the realization that you’ll never get where you wanted to be. It’s a downer, but a top track for sure. Dad’s Rating 8/10

Snake Charmer: We come out of “Catch The Rainbow” unscathed into an upbeat rock track. “Snake Charmer” plays very similarly to “Man On The Silver Mountain;” it’s just a rocking song. I’m a big fan of the wah effect used on the lead guitar to give the song a bit of a funky feeling too. For those more into bass work, check out the bass line during the guitar solo. You have to listen closely but you can hear Craig Gruber getting after it! Dad’s Rating 7/10

The Temple Of The King: Honestly, this is not what I would have expected on a heavy metal album. “The Temple Of The King” sounds like it should have been on a Rush album. It’s so different from the rest of the record because of its primarily acoustic sound, but it has moments where you hear a heavier sound (particularly during the choruses and the solo) that help pull it into the rest of the record. This is a beautiful ballad and another fantastic performance from Ronnie James Dio. Dad’s Rating 8/10

If You Don’t Like Rock N Roll: “If You Don’t Like Rock N Roll” is the weakest song on the album for me. It doesn’t fit with the heavy metal theme of the rest of the album and plays heavily into the traditional 1950s rock sound. I’ll give it credit for one thing though: Songs like this are exactly why Blackmore formed Rainbow. He had more freedom to explore different sounds than he would have with Deep Purple and he had more control over the content creation process. Kudos for trying something different, but it didn’t work for this album. Dad’s Rating 4/10

Sixteenth Century Greensleeves: Were you expecting a traditional rendition of “Greensleeves?” If you were then I hope you were as surprised as I was. Lyrics about medieval battles set to heavy metal?! Yes please! “Sixteenth Century Greensleeves” also has the distinction of featuring the best guitar solo on the album. This is a rocking track that demonstrated prog metal in its full glory. Great song! Dad’s Rating 8/10

Still I’m Sad: The drum part for this song combined with the divebomb on guitar during the intro is really cool. Everyone talks about divebombing but no one puts it on their records so it was neat to hear it used practically. “Still I’m Sad” is a funky instrumental that is a very satisfying finish to a rocking album. You get a little bit of the experimentation that you’ve heard all throughout the album in terms of combining funk, metal, and even a bit of surf rock at times (in terms of the chord progressions). “Still I’m Sad” shows what Rainbow could do and where they were headed in the future, bound by no rules except ‘Rock on!’ Dad’s Rating 7/10

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Rush- Caress of Steel (1975): 16 December 2019

Rush – Caress of Steel (1975)

Welcome back to YDCS! This week I have an album from my favorite band on deck, Rush! Caress of Steel was the band’s third studio album. Critically and commercially, this was the band’s least successful album, but I actually think there’s a lot to like about this record. First, there’s actually a few songs like “Bastille Day” and “The Necromancer” that are solid tracks and were staples of the band during their touring days, even on later tours. Second, the juxtaposition between goofy tracks like “I Think I’m Going Bald” and over-pretentious tracks like “The Fountain of Lamneth” shows me that the band were still learning. Third, this is the most progressive album that the band produced to date, so there was a lot of growing into their new progressive sound to be done. The first time we heard inklings of this was on their previous release with the fantasy elements in “By Tor and Snow Dog,” but they started to really push boundaries with longer format tracks like “The Necromancer” and the side-long song “The Fountain of Lamneth” (their first of three full side-long songs, the others being “2112” and “Cygnus X-1 Book II: Hemispheres”).

Caress of Steel was almost the final nail in the coffin for the band. Fly By Night initially undersold and Caress of Steel continued that theme. They had one more chance on their next album and Rush doubled down on the prog rock sound creating one of the seminal works of the genre, 2112. After that, the rest was history. I don’t think we would have been able to experience 2112 without the experimentation of Caress of Steel. It’s one of my favorite albums by the band because of its rawness and because you can really see where the band was going to be in the future. Enjoy the album!

Dad’s Thoughts- The Breakdown

Bastille Day: “Bastille Day” is a rocking way to start an album, and no other band would be able to pull off a rock song about the French Revolution! There’s really not much to say about this song. Do you like great rock songs with stratospheric vocals and expert musicianship? Do you like lyrics about historical events and the use of the guillotine to bring down the bourgeoisie? If so, this is the song for you! Dad’s Rating 8/10

I Think I’m Going Bald: We started on such a high note and now we have what is arguably one of the worst songs in Rush’s collection “I Think I’m Going Bald.” I see what they were trying to go for. They tried making a statement on ageing and how getting old isn’t the end of the world but they were so off the mark with it. It’s really a shame that the lyrics let this one down because the instrumentals are pretty good! Every time this song comes on though, I shake my head a little bit and sigh. Dad’s Rating 4/10

Lakeside Park: We got a recovery from “I Think I’m Going Bald” with “Lakeside Park.” This is a good song and gives the band a chance to show off their softer side. What interests me on this song is that the band had to run multiple tracks and splice them together to get the full sound. Remember, there’s only the three band members attributed to this song, but during the chorus you can hear drums, bass, a lead electric guitar, and a backing acoustic. I know that they’re all multi-instrumentalists, but two guitars at the same seems to be a little too much to handle. This is a good softer rock song to calm you down before launching into some more progressive elements. Dad’s Rating 6/10

The Necromancer: “The Necromancer” is a rocking track that features some of the best of ‘Old Rush’ and ‘New Rush.’ The solos are straight out of their self-titled debut, but they manage to tie it together with the same guitar riff from “Bastille Day” and some prog elements with the over-tracked vocals leading into different sections of the song. This is one of those tracks where you can see the struggle between old and new play out most clearly. It’s a 12-minute long song featuring fantasy lyrics but with a decidedly harder sound than they would come to put with those lyrics in the future. It’s a great mashup of a song. Lifeson’s guitar skills are on display front and center on this track and somebody needs to arrest Lee during the instrumental because he lit up that guitar! Make sure to check out this oddity of a track from Rush’s deeper cuts. Dad’s Rating 9/10

The Fountain of Lamneth: “The Fountain of Lamneth.” Rush fans either love or hate this track, there’s really not a lot of indifference towards it. This stems from the fact that the lyrics are ‘pretentious,’ but the music is what fans think about when they think about classic Rush. Fortunately, I’m more of a music than lyrics kind of guy, so I fall on the favorable side of the fence. I’ll admit, the lyrics are overdone, but the instrumental portion is the Rush that I love. It’s ever-changing, interesting to listen to, shows a high degree of musicianship, and above all else, it’s progressive. Peart has a banging solo at the four-minute mark that may have been the inspiration for his longer solos on tour. Fun fact, during the first few minutes of the song you can actually hear a guitar riff that would be re-used at the end of “2112” to launch the second round of solos after the main character is disgraced for finding the guitar and showing it to the High Priests. “The Fountain of Lamneth” has areas where it comes up short, but it was the band’s first attempt at a 20-minute long song and ended up being a great launching ground for their next one. Top notch stuff. Dad’s Rating 8/10

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Ted Nugent- Ted Nugent (1975): 28 October 2019

Ted Nugent – Ted Nugent (1975)

Welcome back to YDCS! We have another rocking album this week so strap in for the debut album by the Motor City Madman, Ted Nugent! After the dissolution of his first band, The Amboy Dukes, Nugent decided to go solo and release his first solo studio album that would become a driving force in the heavy metal and hard rock genres. The ‘Nuge was on the forefront of the genre during its heyday, but was definitely more second wave heavy metal/hard rock, the first generation being acts like Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, and Deep Purple. Nugent’s contemporaries were later acts in a more established genre like Dio, Judas Priest, and AC/DC. Ted Nugent showed what could really be done when you put the guitar in the front, keep the band small, and let natural skills shine through.

Ted Nugent is an interesting album. On one hand, it features some of its namesake’s biggest songs and displays a great deal of skill and versatility on the guitar. On the other hand, there’s a good amount of filler material that doesn’t help the album as a whole. This is one of those albums where the highs are really high and the lows feel lower than they really are because of how stratospherically good a few songs are. Give it a listen and let me know what you think!

Dad’s Thoughts- The Breakdown

Stranglehold: Just go ahead and open up the album with a heavy, eight-minute long guitar solo. It certainly sets the mood for the rest of the record! Nugent didn’t pull any punches on “Stranglehold.” This track became one of Nugent’s best-known songs and is regularly featured in concerts and on the radio today. When I was a teenager, “Stranglehold” was one of the first songs to open my ears to the sound of classic rock, particularly dark and bluesy sounds. Because of that, this song holds a special place to me. The guitar work is nothing short of amazing; it manages to be both melodic and feature big, loud power chords. That’s a true testament to Nugent’s talent on the guitar. Dad’s Rating 9/10

Stormtroopin’: “Stormtroopin’” is the less-impressive version of “Stranglehold” in my opinion. It’s less melodic and doesn’t show quite the range of ability. It’s still a fun song and the drum fill in the middle before the solo is a cool piece, but it isn’t special. Give this track a listen if you’ve never listened to Nugent before since this is one of his more popular songs, but don’t expect another “Stranglehold.” Dad’s Rating 6/10

Hey Baby: Now this is a solid blues-inspired rock track if I’ve ever heard one! This song rocks. Period. You have everything that makes a great blues-rock track; screaming guitars, blues scale, half-sung, half-spoken lyrics. It’s dirty, pure, and unabashedly rock and roll. Right on! Dad’s Rating 7/10

Just What the Doctor Ordered: If “Stranglehold” was the album’s opus, “Just What the Doctor Ordered” would be the runner up. The guitar riff on this track is so catchy that it’s hard not to sing along to this ‘infectious’ song! Musically it’s not the most impressive; the guitar solo is good but the rest of the song is an average rock song. “Doctor” is a fun song because of the stellar, bouncy delivery that makes you groove. Dad’s Rating 8/10

Snakeskin Cowboys: “Snakeskin Cowboys” is one of the more forgettable songs on the record. It’s got some good musical moments, but they don’t overshadow the fact that the song is little more than album filler. Dad’s Rating 5/10

Motor City Madhouse: I like this song from a music history perspective. You can hear the beginnings of a new generation of rockers being born out of “Motor City Madhouse.” Think about groups like Jane’s Addiction and Primus that got their starts in the late 80s during the alternative rock, pre-grunge movement. I believe that a lot of their sound can be traced back to songs like this that would have been popular during their formative music years. Musically, this is a neat song and the drum solo at the end was, in fact, a madhouse. The Motor City Madman delivered on this song. Dad’s Rating 6/10

Where Have You Been All My Life: This track suffers from “Snakeskin Cowboy Syndrome.” It’s not a bad blues rock song, but it’s mostly filler and doesn’t do anything to improve the album. The album wouldn’t suffer by its exclusion. Dad’s Rating 5/10

You Make Me Feel Right At Home: This was a new track for me, and I was actually surprised to hear almost a soft rock song on a Ted Nugent album, but it works really well! This is one of the only chances we get to hear more from his backing band, and they did a great job. The keyboard work, soft vocals, and great percussion work (check out that xylophone!) add different layers to the album and shows that the band wasn’t just a one-trick pony with hard rock. Great hidden gem here, don’t skip this one! Dad’s Rating 7/10

Queen of the Forest: We finish the album with a solid rocker. I would place this song one step above the songs that suffer from “Snakeskin Cowboy Syndrome” for two reasons: First, this is musically a more progressive song (evident during the solos) and the short period where we hear a choir in the backing vocals breaks this song apart from others on the record. This is the only song where we’ve heard anything like that. Not a terrible way to wrap up the record. Keep rocking! Dad’s Rating 6/10

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Eagles- One Of These Nights (1975): 14 January 2019

Eagles – One Of These Nights (1975)

This week on Your Dad’s Car Stereo, we’re covering the album the brought Eagles into the forefront of the 1970s rock scene and solidified their place on Classic Rock stations for decades. Formed in California in 1971, the quintet of Don Felder, Glenn Frey, Don Henley, Bernie Leadon, and Randy Meisner, were known as Eagles until Leadon was replaced by Joe Walsh. Despite releasing albums that churned out popular singles like Take It Easy, Witchy Woman, Peaceful Easy Feeling, and Desperado, it was this album, spawning three singles that launched them into the spotlight. You could say that it was this album where the Eagles really “took flight!”

One Of These Nights is, on the whole, an album about relationships. It features Hollywood Waltz, a song about loving and respecting your partner, but on the obverse side of the coin is Lyin’ Eyes, a song about cheating in relationships. The lead single, One Of These Nights, is about the darker aspects of humanity and expresses that there’s no need to hide that in a relationship and that there’s always someone out there like you. The album features a uniquely Eagles sound that is dominated by a country rock sound and borrows heavily from traditional cowboy/western ballads, particularly on songs like Too Many Hands and Visions.

Dad’s Thoughts- The Breakdown

One Of These Nights: This is one of the best songs put to vinyl. Period. Ever. The smooth rock track opens with haunting guitar before diving into a well-polished, grooving verse and features classic Eagles vocal harmonies in the chorus. Seriously, listen to this song if you’ve never heard it before, this is one of my all-time favorites, and for that it receives the first “They don’t make music like this anymore Award” for this series. Dad’s Rating: 10/10

Too Many Hands: Eagles followed one of the strongest singles they ever released with a slightly above average track. Certainly not a bad song but it just doesn’t hold a candle to the song that came before. I actually get a feeling that there was a cowboy/western United States influence on the music in this song that you can hear in the guitar riff at the end of each sentence in the chorus. Yee-haw! Dad’s Rating: 7/10

Hollywood Waltz: This song puts me to sleep. I had to listen to it a few times before I get a message out of the lyrics, and I actually found that I enjoy the message of learning to love someone. The cowboy ballad influence is strong in this one. Despite this, it still puts me to…ZzzzzzzzzzZZZZZzzzzzZZzzzz Dad’s Rating: 6/10

Journey Of The Sorcerer: A song for a full orchestra and a BANJO!! This was the soundtrack for Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy to boot! I’m not sure who thought that a banjo would amplify an epic song appropriate for travelling across the universe, but thank goodness they did. Give this song a shot, it’s a little odd if you’re not familiar with Douglas Adams’ original radio show or the remade movie in the early aughts, but it’s a “journey” worth taking. Dad’s Rating: 8/10

Lyin’ Eyes: This was one of the lead singles off of One Of These Nights, and the soft rock/cowboy ballad is felt as much here as it is on Hollywood Waltz. This song is more palletable than the former for two reasons: 1. Classic Eagles vocal harmony is present that was sorely lacking on the earlier track and 2. The tempo doesn’t put you to sleep. I’d be lyin’ if I told you any different! Dad’s Rating: 7/10

Take It To The Limit: So this is a staple of classic rock radio to this day, and that makes sense considering it was the third single off of the album. This song deserves a sing-a-long every time it comes on, and it’s just a fantastic ballad that’s easy to listen to. The multiple building refrains at the end are one of my favorite parts. If you’ve never sat and listened to this then I can only recommend doing so. This song doesn’t just take the album to the limit of excellence, it pushes it over that limit and helped cement it in rock history.  Dad’s Rating: 8/10

Visions: This song actually surprised me because I had never listened to it before. Going in having never listened to it, it has come out as one of my favorites off the album. Visions is a classic 1970s southern rock song done right. It’s got a very Lynyrd Skynyrd feel to it. If you have even a passing interest in Skynyrd or CCR, this song will tickle the auricular orifices. Dad’s Rating: 8/10

After The Thrill Is Gone: Snooze. I know this is one of Eagles’ more popular songs, but skip it, particularly if you sat through Hollywood Waltz. Dad’s Rating: 5/10

I Wish You Peace: This is an interesting track to close off the album. I Wish You Peace is easily my least favorite song on the album and it sparked controversy within the band when it was recorded. Don Henley has spoken out against it, stating that it was only on the album at the request of Bernie Leadon and his girlfriend Patti Davis. It’s definitely an outlier on this album, and an outlier worth skipping. I hope this song can find peace with itself, considering no one listens to it. Dad’s Rating 4/10 The opinion above is protected under the Fair Use provision of United States Copyright Law, 17 U.S.C §107 which allows for the fair use of a copyrighted work for criticism without infringement on the copyright.