RATINGS: A = must own B = buy it C= average D = yawn F = puke

Rainbow – Monsters of Rock – Live at Donington 1980
Eagle Rock Entertainment

Rating: C+

This is one of those type of releases that is difficult to review, as there are both high and low points to consider. One of the cool things is that this is a really well sounding album that looks back at Ritchie Blackmore in 1980, a time when the master of the Stratocaster was moving away from his Dungeon & Dragons phase and into a more pop rock direction.

Blackmore plays well and looks like a heavy metal gypsy doing it.  The man can play guitar, I’ll give him that.  The DVD portion culls all of the known footage of the show and it is a joy to watch… the band that is.  The vocalist has some issues… more on that later.  The band is made of some pretty famous dudes.  Besides Blackmore, Rainbow in 1980 is made up of Roger Glover on bass and Cozy Powell on drums.  Blackmore… Glover…Powell… throw in Don Airey on keys… so, you may ask, why is this so hard to review?  Well, let us get back to that vocalist issue.

Step into my time machine and let me take you back to August 16, 1980 where Rainbow is playing the first rock festival to ever be held at Castle Donington.  Amazing stuff indeed.  The band were promoting their FM radio success from their album Down to Earth featuring Graham Bonnet.  This would be the last Rainbow show to feature this lineup, in fact.  The issue with this version of Rainbow was Graham Bonnet.  He was a square peg in a round hole on this night... perhaps one of the biggest concerts the band had ever played. To make matters worse… he sounded, well, not that darn great. 

Seeing this and hearing it (the concert is now released on CD  in a nifty CD/DVD package) for the first time leaves this writer wishing it had been all it could have been. Bonnet I am sure is a fine man and a damn good singer (snap up Michael Schenker’s “ Assault Attack” or Alcatrazz’s “No Parole from Rock N' Roll” ), but I am not the first to comment on the mismatch of this lineup.  It was One ‘n’ Done & Exit for Bonnet in this band.  Blackmore, the king of the revolving band door, found Joe Lynn Turner and brought him in.  With Joe at the helm, the band was able to realize it’s chart success dreams.   With Bonnet it was just not to be.

Despite everything I have written, please check this one out, at least for the historical value alone.  This is a rare concert with a rare lineup and it features a track listing that is not heard these days.  Despite my criticism, I have played this sucker several times.  It is a peek into an era of Rainbow that time has rather forgotten.  That alone makes this a must-own for any Blackmore or Rainbow fan.  I am just being honest that the coolness of this concert ranks much higher than the concert itself.

Still… it’s damn Rainbow in 1980 with Graham Bonnet fronting the band!  Now that’s rock ‘n’ roll!

01. Lazy
02. All Night Long
03. Catch The Rainbow
04. Eyes Of The World
05. Guitar Solo
06. Difficult To Cure
07. Will You Love Me Tomorrow
08. Long Live Rock 'N' Roll

01. Intro / Eyes Of The World
02. Since You Been Gone
03. Stargazer
04. Catch The Rainbow
05. Lost In Hollywood / Guitar Solo
06. Difficult To Cure / Keyboard Solo
07. Drum Solo / Lost In Hollywood (reprise)
08. Lazy
09. All Night Long
10. Blues
11. Will You Love Me Tomorrow
12. Long Live Rock 'N' Roll

By Jeb “JLT’s Number One Fan” Wright