Song Of The Day - 18 Sep 2008: Diamonds and Rust


22 Sep 2008, 3:29

Blackmore's Night / Diamonds And Rust / Ghost Of A Rose (3) / Jun 2003

They say you shouldn't judge a book (or an album) by its cover. But yeah, go ahead on these albums. What you see and imagine is pretty much what you get with the current project of Ritchie Blackmore and his wife, Candice Night. (Nice catch there, Mr. Blackmore. Great voice, too. Gonna have to include her in Metal Mamas Week next year...)

It's all pretty much lutes & lyres, fyfes & fiddles, and oh yeah, some of Ritchie's (mostly period-accurate acoustic) guitar work, too. OK, maybe that's not an entirely accurate instrument list, but there IS plenty of hurdy gurdy. And ladies shaking tambourines, too. OK to look at, though.

The songs are heavily in favor of fa-la-la foo-foo "Renaissance Fayre" stuff. You know what I mean: all minstrels and damsels, wandering the countryside, living the "life medieval," entertaining ye lords & ladies, singing about, well, minstrels and damsels, wandering the countryside, living the "life medieval," entertaining ye lords & ladies. And sometimes a folk fable. They even do Greensleeves. And no, it's not their version of Sixteenth Century Greensleeves.

However, if you judge the sound by the look, don't overlook the occasional gem here and there, particularly AFTER the first two albums, where it's heavily minstrely (Play Minstrel Play, Renaissance Faire) or else all about tragedy (Ocean Gypsy, Catherine Howard's Fate) or how badly ye lady misses and loves ye (Wish You Were Here), tra-la-la and all that. You can even hear Ritchie's arrangement of a song written by King Henry VIII (Past Time With Good Company), that's how badly they want to be in the 16th century. Some of it is kinda interesting when you're not wanting to rock out and are wanting to dig something different, but mostly.....zzzz.....

But on the later discs, Ritchie does eventually plug in now and then. I think the album I'm highlighting today is probably the one I like best, though I've not yet heard Secret voyage. There's still the requisite folk fable (3 Black Crows) and a song to raise ye flagons of mead to (All For One).

But this album has plenty of rocky, plugged-in moments and solos, such as the great opening track Way To Mandalay, which is worth having because it's quite good and like nothing I've heard elsewhere, and their great cover of Jethro Tull's Rainbow Blues.

Candice really does have an awesome voice, and that's probably the best part of all the albums when Ritchie isn't playing electric. And today's selection is my SotD for three reasons: (1) it's a great song anyway, as I've alluded to previously, (2) it's a great arrangement by Ritchie, and (3) is probably the best showcase for Candice's voice. This one gives Judas Priest's version a run for the money in my personal library. Not as electric & metal as JP's, of course, but excellent nonetheless.

Would I rather have more eletric hard rock from Mr. Blackmore? Of course! But he already did a reunion with both Deep Purple and Rainbow, and those aren't likely to happen ever again. The only reunion I'd really want to see anyway would be a Rainbow reunion with Ronnie James Dio, but he's going to be busy with Heaven & Hell for several years (perfectly fine with me), and can you imagine the arguments that would emerge now with those two massive egos in the same room? Arguing over whether the lyrics should be focused more to the 13th century, "sailing away on sighs" again, or the 16th century, "writing things in the stars for fair maidens"? <smirk>

So, as it stands, this is likely the only way you'll hear Ritchie playing for any time in the foreseeable future. Oh, and if you celebrate the winter holidays and want something a bit different than listening to Bing boo-boo-ba-boo-ing his way through yet. another. white christmas, check out Winter Carols. It's also worth having for that time of year.

\m/ (ò_ó) \m/


  • GrantRS

    I thought Henry VIII wrote Greensleeves as well. Since you mentioned Xmas, there's some interesting guitar based stuff that I've been thinking of getting for a while. Perhaps most notably Steve Lukather's Santamental which also features Greensleeves.

    22 Sep 2008, 8:58
  • sablespecter

    That's what I tought, too, but that's apparently not true. This is one instance where my high school symphonic experience paid off: we had that discussion one year when we performed "What Child Is This?" and had a discussion about where the song & tune originated. An excerpt from this book (can't seem to get Google to show more of it) says that the style originated after Henry VIII was gone. Hey, Steve Lukather! I just not too long ago heard a bit of Ever Changing Times and thought it was decent. He's a great player, and I'll bet that Xmas album is good. I'll have to check that out.

    22 Sep 2008, 15:43
  • sablespecter

    Knowing some of the things I do about you and what you like, I have no doubt that you will not be disappointed, especially with this album. I will post an update here once I have a chance to listen to the latest album, from which I also expect good things!

    23 Sep 2008, 20:37
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