Rainbow - "Down to Earth" Deluxe Edition CD Review ~ BrooklynRocks: NYC Music Blog

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Rainbow - "Down to Earth" Deluxe Edition CD Review

This Tuesday, Polydor is reissuing Rainbow's fourth disc Down to Earth (originally released in 1979) in a two-CD deluxe edition.

For anyone not familiar with this disc, this was a transitional album for Rainbow as the only hold-over from the Dio-era was drummer Cozy Powell. Replacing Ronnie James Dio as Ritchie Blackmore's songwriting partner was x-Deep Purple bassist Roger Glover and Graham Bonnet took over on vocals. This disc finds the band abandoning the sword & sorcery epic rock of the Dio-era and moving in a more commercial direction. The eight songs on the original disc show the band fitting into the British blues-based, FM-radio sound that was popular at this time and a good point of comparison is Bad Company's Desolation Angels. This disc spawned two singles "Since You Been Gone" and "All Night Long" which were consistent staples in Rainbow's setlist in the years that followed.

Jumping into the reissue, the original album (Disc 1) is fleshed out by two b-sides: "Bad Girl" (b-side of "Since You Been Gone") and "Weiss Heim" (a stellar instrumental which is the b-side of "All Night Long"). Disc 2 is comprised of twelve tracks (~60 minutes) of instrumental versions and outtakes from Down to Earth. The instrumentals are somewhat of a mixed bag for me as, while some of the instruments are higher in the mix than on the finished songs, there aren't any significant differences other than the lack of vocals. The two outtakes "Spark Don't Mean a Fire" and "Ain't A Lot of Love in the Heart of Me" are interesting as they are, respectively, early versions of "No Time To Lose" and "Love's No Friend" with different lyrics. The Cozy Powell mix of "All Night Long" is somewhat of a throw-away as it sounds like a monitor-mix of the song with loud drums and backing vocals and muted lead vocals.

While this set seems a labor of love, I'm hard pressed to say that this reissue is worth its $24.20 price point (current price on Amazon). New copies of the original disc are selling for less than $5.00 on Amazon so one is essentially paying the balance for the fourteen bonus tracks. The "problem" is that the instrumentals are likely of interest only to die-hard fans but these same fans more than likely have eight of these tracks on the "Down to Earth Rough Mixes" bootleg that has been in circulation for years. What's left are just the two b-sides, the two early versions, and a "new" instrumental version of "Ain't A Lot of Love in the Heart of Me" (which sounds like just like the completed version). I would have been happier if the Castle Donington show (where Rainbow headlined the first Monsters of Rock festival) or the soundboard recording of the Denver, CO show from Nov. '79 had been included as bonus tracks. At minimum, "Set Me Free" (from the "Down to Earth Rough Mixes" bootleg) could have easily been included as part of this set.

Ritchie Blackmore