Ritchie Blackmore’s RAINBOW – Stranger In Us All [Cherry Red / NHE Expanded & Remastered] *HQ*
As requested, here’s the recent ‘Expanded & Remastered‘ Cherry Red Records / Near No Evil release of RAINBOW‘s final album 1995 “Stranger In Us All“, featuring 3 bonus tracks (including the Japan edition hard to find extra), extensive liner notes, a personal account from singer Doogie White, plus plenty of artwork and memorabilia from Doogie’s own Rainbow collection.
Rainbow split in 1984 when Ritchie joined Deep Purple’s MK2 reunion, and a further tumultuous decade. Ritchie quit Purple once more following a 1993 Helsinki gig, this time for good. Shortly after, it was announced that the guitarist was reforming Rainbow. Rumours abounded regarding who might feature in the line-up.
The resulting record, “Stranger In Us All”, was issued under the name Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow in August 1995, with a band featuring new faces Paul Morris on keyboards, Greg Smith on bass, John O’Reilly on drums and Blackmore’s Night’s Candice Night on background vocals.
Fronted by Doogie White, the singer was an inspired choice; a huge fan of Ritchie’s career in both Purple and Rainbow. Doogie formed a strong writing partnership with the guitarist. Yeah, “Stranger In Us All” is one of Blackmore’ best albums ever.
The remaster sounds great, and the extensive liner notes are excellent. The whole thing on this reissue reminded me what a truly fantastic release this was – and a sadly underappreciated one.
“Stranger In Us All” was the third album in a row that Ritchie did with a different singer (after Joe Lynn Turner on Deep Purple’s Slaves and Masters and Ian Gillan on Deep Purple’s The Battle Rages On), a turbulent period of Ritchie’s career.
He had been frustrated for years with both the artistic direction of Deep Purple as well as their lack of commercial success, and on top was increasingly fed up with playing hard rock, but with this all-new Rainbow lineup, most notably with the fantastic Dougie White on vocals (fresh from being one of the two finalists in replacing Bruce Dickinson in Iron Maiden), Ritchie sounded like a man reborn and revitalized as he turned 50.
His playing and writing were the best they’d been since ’84’s Perfect Strangers, with ‘Hunting Humans (Insatiable)’, ‘Ariel,’ ‘Black Masquerade’, ‘and Wolf to the Moon’ being really, really good songs. Add a very creative vocal version of ‘Hall of the Mountain King’ and the excellent cover of the Yardbirds’ Still I’m Sad (already legendary in the Rainbow canon from the Dio days), and you’ve got a real winner.
Dougie White was a huge Blackmore and Rainbow fan, and clearly approached the whole project with great dedication. I think he absolutely shines here.
When it came to playing live, songs from both Rainbow and Purple were revisited, and on this reissue we are lucky enough to have a unique live recording of ‘The Temple Of The King’ from a 1995 Swedish concert, a song that originally appeared on the band’s first record, in 1975.
Also featured are a “radio edit” of the single ‘Ariel’, plus the song ‘Emotional Crime’ that has previously only been released in Japan.
I really love this album, and if you’re a Blackmore fan of any era, you should listen again this usually underrated record. It may surprise you how fresh it sounds 2023. This is timeless hard rock, a good one.
“Stranger In Us All” was successful, with Rainbow touring all over the world. In ’97 Ritchie disbanded this line-up and started Blackmore’s Night, putting an end to his 30-year-run as one of the premiere hard rock guitarists of his generation.
01 – Wolf to the Moon
02 – Cold Hearted Woman
03 – Hunting Humans (Insatiable)
04 – Stand and Fight
05 – Ariel
06 – Too Late for Tears
07 – Black Masquerade
08 – Silence
09 – Hall of the Mountain King
10 – Still I’m Sad
11 – Emotional Crime (Japan Edition bonus track)
12 – Ariel (radio edit)
13 – The Temple of the King (Live)
Doogie White – lead and backing vocals
Ritchie Blackmore – guitar, producer
Greg Smith – bass, backing vocals
Paul Morris – keyboards
John O’Reilly – drums
Candice Night – backing vocals
Mitch Weiss – harmonica