Review: Memories In Rock II

After the previously released live album, fans were still quite sceptical about the return of Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow. After all, the band had been a little under rehearsed and Blackmore himself being a little rusty with the guitar. The band have since came back swinging on their recent UK tour, the performances of which can be found here on Memories In Rock II.

Okay, some people might still complain about the fact that the song tempo’s are not quite up to the classic band’s live standards. But considering the age of a certain band member, it is perfectly okay to pull back a little. Especially when the results sound this good. Not only does the band over all sound tighter, more powerful but there is a sort of finesse that was missing on the previous two live releases. These guys are well rehearsed and sound very tight through out.

I think David Keith in particularly does a great job keeping the band moving throughout the performance. He received a lot of negative criticism for his performance on the previous tour, but here he just wipes the floor with those critics. Not only is his playing solid, more commanding than the previous tour but his sound is also harder, heavier and provides a considerable more impactful punch compared to the previously released Memories In Rock. On top of that, the fellow uses a lot of subtle little tricks like shuffling on the snare drum during slower numbers and it is little tricks like that that adds a lot to a song. His work alongside Bob Nouveau is possibly some of the most criminally underrated in current rock history. Not only are these two musicians very talented but they work VERY well together.

The track list features all the songs played on the tour (I think). There are a lot of Rainbow favourites, more so than the previous tour. You’ll get more renditions of Mistreated, Stargazer and Child In Time. But each song found on the previous Memories In Rock album have been improved greatly here. Whether it is simply down to more rehearsing, each song sounds more solid and there are considerably less hiccups in the playing. Personally speaking, I could have done without Black Night and Smoke On The Water. There are enough copies of these songs out there and they add very little to the overall performance.

I was a bit surprised to hear that they added Difficult To Cure from the Glasgow show. It was in my honest opinion the only sour point through out the entire show due to the fact that the song featured an overly long keyboard solo. The solo itself doesn’t sound so bad at home on my stereo but when we attended the show, you could hear fans get restless and start booing Jens Johansson. This incident is captured in all its glory here, though it’s not quite as noticeable as it was in person.

There are a lot more things to like about this album. The production and mixing for example is right on the money. It makes the band sound very powerful with a great range of high and lows with everything in between. Drums sound powerful, the guitars and keyboards sit nicely in the left and right channels with the bass gluing it all together perfectly. Ronnie Romero does a superb job with the vocals (no big surprise there) and the addition of the backing singers is another nice little touch.

For those curious, Ritchie Blackmore’s playing is right on the money for the most part. He doesn’t play as lightning as fast as his heyday, but he makes up for that by adding an extra dose of melody and emotion. His rhythm playing isn’t quite as fierce as it use to but remains quite heavy regardless. With a solid band behind him, he is able to take his time and play his songs to the note, even going so far as to improvise over the top of it. Songs like Mistreated, Sixteenth Century Greensleeves and Spotlight Kid show the master musician doing what only he can do and it really does sound great.

Memories In Rock II is not going to replace people’s copies of On Stage, that is a part of history that will never be replaced. But when you look at this product as a whole and forget about your forty year old nostalgia, this is a damn fine live album that really shows what Rainbow can deliver in today’s world. If you’re still on the fence about today’s band, this might be the one that will make you decide which side you belong on.

Rating : 9 / 10

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Track Listing :

  1. Over the Rainbow
  2. Spotlight Kid
  3. I Surrender
  4. Mistreated
  5. Since You've Been Gone
  6. Man on the Silver Mountain/Woman From Tokyo
  7. 16th Century Greensleeves
  8. Soldier of Fortune
  9. Perfect Strangers
  10. Difficult To Cure
  11. All Night Long
  12. Child In Time
  13. Stargazer
  14. Long Live Rock 'n' Roll/Lazy
  15. Catch the Rainbow
  16. Black Night
  17. Carry On Jon
  18. Temple of the King
  19. Smoke on the Water
  20. Waiting For a Sign (studio song)