Sunday, 2 December 2012

CD Review: Down To Earth, by Rainbow (1979)

Rainbow's first album without Ronnie James Dio on vocals features another mass overhaul of personnel, and steers sharply in a commercial direction. Down To Earth is easy to dislike, occupying that abominable space where previously dedicated metal musicians start to wax lyrical about icky love and fake heartache in a desperate search for radio time.

In search of a non-discriminating audience, Ritchie Blackmore's guitar work is toned down to toothless territory. Graham Bonnet's vocals are nine months pregnant with fake emotion, and it's a small mercy that his Rainbow career lasted all of one album. Roger Glover returns to his partnership with Blackmore to perform bass and production duties, while Cozy Powell works the dance beats on the drums. Don Airey on keyboards completes a line-up that checks heaviness at the door and mostly stumbles around assorted poppy rock sounds.

Just two of the eight tracks serve as a reminder that there was once a metal heart to this band. Eyes Of The World sounds like a Dio composition but sorely suffers without his delivery. As it stands, it's satisfyingly dark and brooding, despite an out-of-his-depth Bonnet, and indeed the track's instrumental passages are by far the strongest. Album closer Lost In Hollywood finally brings some life and energy to the record with an up-tempo, higher-speed effort that pushes Bonnet to the back in favour of some animated Blackmore guitar work supplemented by imaginative Airey keyboards. It's nowhere near Rainbow's best material, but on Down to EarthLost In Hollywood is a revelation.

Even when Rainbow conjure up potentially attractive themes as on the main riff of Makin' Love, the band drops away from any interesting development in favour of banality from the bottom drawer of the lowest denominator.

Otherwise, there are just sad and isolated fragments of inspiration strewn in the wreckage. Not just Down To Earth, but without a parachute, and landing with an ugly thud.


Ritchie Blackmore - Guitars
Cozy Powell - Drums
Roger Glover - Bass
Don Airey - Keyboards
Graham Bonnet - Vocals

Songlist (ratings out of 10):

1. All Night Long - 7
2. Eyes Of The World - 8
3. No Time To Lose - 6
4. Makin' Love - 7
5. Since You Been Gone - 6
6. Love's No Friend - 7
7. Danger Zone - 7
8. Lost In Hollywood - 8

Average: 7.00

Produced by Roger Glover.
Engineered by Gary Edwards. Mastered by Suha Gur.

All Ace Black Blog Heavy Metal CD Reviews are here.

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