After Rainbow’s first three albums with Ronnie James Dio as frontman, the band’s de facto leader Ritchie Blackmore decided drastic changes were needed to help achieve his ambition for mainline commercial success. So out went singer Dio, followed by bassist and songwriter Bob Daisley and keyboard player David Stone along with all the heavy metal epic songs of grandeur and mythical tales. Cozy Powell was the only one to keep his drum stool, but he too would leave after this album.
Rainbow in their entire career never made two consecutive albums with the same line-up. Since the first incarnation of group (altogether there have been three different time periods for the band) there have been 27 official members, plus the ‘Man in Black’ himself. Quite a record! During this time there have been eight studio albums plus uncountable live albums and compilations.
So, following the drastic purge of the line-up new members had to be found for the album “Down to Earth” (1979). Recordings started with session musicians joining Blackmore and Powell in Connecticut, USA. After a chance meeting with Roger Glover, who Blackmore had fired from Deep Purple, he was brought in as producer. Glover, far from holding any ill will just shrugged and said, “It was a great opportunity for me. Who am I to hold a grudge?” What a nice man.
Roger Glover later took on the bass playing duties too while keyboard wizard Don Airey was brought in on the recommendation of Cozy Powell, as he had played in Powell’s solo projects.
Finding a singer was far more of a problem but Glover learned that Blackmore had been impressed by the singer for the Marbles, who had a big hit with the song “Only One Woman” in 1968, so Graham Bonnet was contacted and hired on the spot. Promoted from being a lower division rhythm and blues musician to lead singer of one of the biggest rock bands in the world he did remarkably well, although his short haircut and Mark Taylor styled shirts never sat well with the crowd.
The first music heard from this album was the Russ Ballard penned “Since You’ve Been Gone” which shot to number six in the British charts and broke the American Billboard Top 100. It was just the commercial success Blackmore had been looking for. The album also contained the self-penned, raunchy next hit single “All Night Long”. But these are really just two good tracks amongst a wealth of other good songs in the hard rock style. “Lost in Hollywood” and “Eyes of the World” would instantly become stage favorites.
The playing throughout the album is nothing short of magical and Glover’s production work brings each song a clarity and sharpness sometimes missing from previous Rainbow offerings. The album reached number 6 in the British charts and cracked open the way for the band to be a major act in the United States. Of course, by the next album both Bonnet and Powell had gone, but the ‘Man in Black’ continued on his merry way.
The deluxe edition available now is a two CD affair but quite honestly holds very little of interest, the extras are mostly rehearsals.
Mott the Dog rating: 5 stars.
Ritchie Blackmore – lead guitar
Roger Glover – bass guitar
Don Airey – keyboards
Cozy Powell – drums
Graham Bonnet- vocals
All Night Long
Eyes Of The World
No Time to Lose
Since You’ve Been Gone
Love’s No Friend
Lost in Hollywood
Note: Written By Mott the Dog and Hells Bells who can be found Down to Earth at Jameson’s The Irish Pub, Soi AR North Pattaya.