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09.11.2019

MARTIN POPOFF

Sensitive to Light - The Rainbow Story

Anmeldt av Jens Nepper
(Power Chord Press, 2019)

Karakter: 5/6

sensitive-to-light-the-rainbow-story book cover.jpgAuthor Martin Popoff hardly needs any introduction as he has written numerous (and important) books on all things hard rock and heavy metal for years now, and his reflections on and insights into the music that you and I love and cherish so much are often quite brilliant and thought-provoking. The legendary Rainbow needs no introduction either. Former Deep Purple guitar wizard Ritchie Blackmore (and present-day Renaissance music minstrel with Blackmore's Night) spawned the entity back in the mid-seventies along with the sadly-missed Ronnie James Dio, and the band went though numerous line-ups throughout the years, but the quality of the records is undeniable and the thunderous tunes are rightfully considered immortal classics nowadays. In short, Rainbow was a massive influence on the rock music scene back in the day and continues to be so today, and in fact, they are still out there touring occasionally, but merely as a nostalgia act of sorts with three or four performances a year. Still, the new version of the ensemble kicks ass too as evidenced by their recent live offerings. But as usual, I digress. Let us focus on Popoff's fabulous and hugely informative book on the timeless albums and the highly skilled musicians that appeared on them, shall we?

There are two things in particular about this well-written piece of literature that I treasure. The first one is that this is a complete and comprehensive overview and discussion of Rainbow's expansive legacy, which means that underrated gems such as 1995's “Stranger in Us All” with Doogie White at the vocal helm and the current Ronnie Romero-fronted version of the band are included here. Nothing is overlooked or neglected. The second awesome thing is that Popoff injects his personal and subjective thoughts into the narrative, which entails that the story turns into something much more interesting and funny compared to the ones out there with a more objective perspective on Rainbow. As I think I have pointed out in another review of one of his previous books, it often feels as if one is engaging in a fascinating dialogue with the author with respect to the strengths and weaknesses of each LP and song (and each incarnation of the group and how they fared on stage too for that matter!).

The story of Rainbow is quite breathtaking and not just in terms of the enchanting and powerful music that was conceived, but also in terms of the musicians who joined the ranks and played a part in its studio creations and tours. Some were there for only a short time and contributed minimally to the outfit while others were there for more than one album and tour. Then again, the restless soul of Blackmore and his never-ending desire to bring in new blood and spice things up meant that the same line-up never managed to record more than one album before he shuffled the cards once again. Not surprisingly, there is an abundance of drama within the book too, but not in the sensationalist sense of the word. Rather, there were enormous egos in the band and it was inevitable that they would occasionally clash (and that certain members would eventually fall out with each other), but the great thing is that Martin has interviewed so many of those who trod the boards with Rainbow over the years, thereby giving them all a voice and making sure that “Sensitive to Light” is a balanced and in-depth read that covers all the shades and nuances of the overall saga. The main players such as Ronnie James Dio, Craig Gruber, Jimmy Bain, Tony Carey, Joe Lynn Turner, Graham Bonnet, Roger Glover, Bobby Rondinelli, Bob Daisley, Jimmy Bain, Doogie White, and Ritchie Blacmore himself are all featured here. There was an uncompromising honesty and confidence to the marvelous compositions and live shows that Rainbow were responsible for, and Popoff's piece captures all of that and more in a glorious and fulfilling manner. In that sense, the author never loses sight of the book's central theme, which is just one of the things that makes this an essential purchase if classic hard rock (with an emphasis on Deep Purple and Rainbow) appeal to you.

“Sensitive to Light” presents a vivid and detailed account of Rainbow's career in a passionate and at times humerus way, and it does a splendid job at capturing the mad genius of Ritchie Blackmore and his talented cohorts as well as the wild musical ride that they embarked on together.
 


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