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Music DVD Review: Rainbow: Live In Munich 1977 [Reissue]

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It’s hard to imagine a Rainbow fan who wouldn’t want a copy of Rainbow: Live In Munich 1977. Odds are, most already do. Filmed in Munich on October 20, 1977 for the German Rockpalast TV show, bootleg videos started popping up after the repeated airings of the concert. Then, in 2006, an official CD and DVD release came out with added bonus features.

But for those who don’t already have the show on their shelves, Eagle Rock has now reissued Rainbow: Live In Munich 1977 again on DVD, CD, and now on vinyl as well. Why? Well, as publicity for the concert reminds us, the show had a special place in Rainbow history. This is the only film that captured the line-up of Ritchie Blackmore (guitar), Ronnie James Dio (vocals), and Cozy Powell (drums). As they never became marquee names on their own, then new members Bob Daisley (bass, backing vocals) and David Stone (keyboards) are barely mentioned in the press releases, but you can be sure their presence is very important in the Munich show.

The concert also deserves special mention because of the backstory. Throughout the concert, Dio repeatedly apologizes to the audience for the band’s lateness. This was due to Blackmore arriving in Munich only after being smuggled out of Austria after trouble with the police at a gig two nights earlier. His crime? Interestingly, the disc gives us three different stories. In Daisley’s interview, he claims an obnoxious show promoter irritated Blackmore to the point Ritchie kicked him in the jaw. In the interview with tour manager Colin Hart, the kick in the jaw was delivered to some security guard harassing a 12-year-old girl. In the detailed audio commentary, a fight erupted when security personnel harassed a group of fans. In all three stories, the band first tried to hide Blackmore in a drum case but police dogs ferreted him out.

However the Vienna arrest went down, the patient and enthusiastic German audience got rewarded with much of the standard Rainbow song list, opening with “Kill the King” And the Blackmore/David Coverdale composition, “Mistreated.” Who could have guessed, back in ’77, that the gentle guitar passages leading into “Sixteenth Century Greensleeves” were a foreshadowing of what Blackmore would be doing when he left his electric heavy metal axe behind him? Speaking of, the guitarist’s softer passages on “Catch the Rainbow,” Blackmore’s homage to Hendrix and Bach, are often a strain to hear. I feared to turn them up knowing what was coming. After all, Rainbow were always good at running the dynamic range in concert.

Then, the audience heard the title track for the upcoming, unreleased “Long Live Rock ‘n’ Roll” where Stone offers a passable Jon Lord impersonation. Finally, we get Rainbow’s primary showpieces, “Man on the Silver Mountain” and “Still I’m Sad.” The latter includes a tasty drum solo from Powell and the largely forgotten Stone turns Rainbow into a prog rock ensemble with keyboard runs evocative of Keith Emerson and Rick Wakeman, not to mention full band quotations from dramatic classical pieces like Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” and Tchaikovsky’s “1812 Overture.” The best Blackmore moments arrive in the eight minute encore, “Do You Close Your Eyes?”, another vivid reminder of his first band in both style and substance.

Clearly, the bonus features are repeats from the 2006 edition. For one matter, there are repeated mentions to the death of Powell but none to the 2010 passing of Dio. As mentioned above, there are two interviews with Daisley and Hart. The analytical commentary track for the 39 minute slide show by some unidentified commentator is a very good history of the band as well as the concert in question. It includes insights into the music, personnel, not to mention the large lighted rainbow prop that dominated the stage and often interfered with the equipment. Videos include the promo for “Long Live Rock ‘n’ Roll,” Rainbow’s bid for radio airplay, “L.A. Connection,” and the once rare “Gates of Babylon.”

So Rainbow: Live In Munich 1977 is for those who didn’t get their copy first time around. Of course, listening to this line-up anytime is always worth the price of admission. I admit preferring Live in Germany, 1976 partly because the set list included “Star Gazer,” partly due to the power of “Man on the Silver Mountain” on that version. Well, live Rainbow always has its charms, no matter the gig—so long as Blackmore, Dio, and Powell star.

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