The album cover depicts a raging sea and a fist of a Titan or some god emerging with a rainbow in it's grasp, RISING ! With a dark night sky and jagged cliffs and one lone onlooker. But the music is equally as dramatic, epic, and powerful !
The Band - Ritchie Blackmore - guitar/Ronnie James Dio - vocals/Cozy Powell - drums/Tony Carey - keyboards/Jimmy Bain - bass.
'TAROT WOMAN'-Starts with an awe inspiring synthesizer introduction, before Ritchie Blackmore's guitar riff dramaticly powers repetatively into hearing, fading up. Lyrically Ronnie James Dio starts by saying 'I don't want to go', although he carries on by feeling compelled to go. But the chorus starts with a warning 'Beware of a place' but continues with the allure of 'A smile on a bright shiny face'. After which swearing 'I'll never return', what ever she told him, he sings 'How do you know - Tarot Woman', before ending the chorus 'I don't know'. The second verse explains more by revealing it as one of those fun fair events, 'She can take you there the entrance to the fair', and 'Ride the carousel', although it may not all be as innocent as a fun fair with the following line, 'Cast a magic spell you can fly fly'. Before returning to the chorus, although one line towards the end of the song 'Her love is like a knife, she'll carve away your life' seem to mean this is a relationship he's regretting or warning against.
'RUN WITH THE WOLF'-Is a very enigmatic lyric with references that could be to do with North American Indians, 'The old ones say', 'Was the sound last night the wind ?', 'By the fall of the snow', possibly invoking an old and wise Indian talking to younger braves. The lyrics also appear to be singing about some 'unholy', 'evil's passing by', and 'the siren' and 'the change' and 'foot steps on the white'(snow). With the title of the song, is this some form of Lychanthropy ? Or connected to North American spiritual beliefs ? Ronnie being born an American(of Italian descent), could have grown up aware of that heritage of America. As with all the compositions on this album they are by Blackmore/Dio.
'STARSTRUCK'-Is a much simpler lyrical idea, about a female fan obsessed with a rock star. Even if he's 'High on a hill', or he'd 'Fly to the moon', 'She'd soon find a way to be there'. 'She wants a souvenir', 'She wants a photograph', 'She's hooked', 'The lady's Starstruck, she's nothing but bad luck'. Possibly almost a stalker ! This was released as a single in US, Europe and Japan, but not in the UK.
'DO YOU CLOSE YOUR EYES'-Basiclly comes across as a love song, yet another variation on the old theme of boy meets girl. 'The things that make you smile', 'I'll take an aim at your heart'. 'Do you close your eyes, when you're making love', 'I gotta know', he sings. Sometimes performed as an encore which would include Blackmore's guitar smashing !
'STARGAZER'-This song is considered by some fans, the pinnacle of, not just Rainbow's career but Ritchie Blackmore's and Ronnie James Dio's as well. I include myself in this group of fans as well. It starts with a thunderous Cozy Powell opening on drums and Blackmore's greatest guitar riff(although not the populist 'Smoke On The Water'). It's a story about a wizard who uses slave labour to build a tower so he can fly, but instead falls to his death ! Ancient Eygptian pyramids and the Biblical tower of Babel come to mind. With lines including 'High noon, Oh I'd sell my soul for water, nine years of breaking my back', and 'In the heat and rain, with whips and chains, just to see him fly so many die, we built a tower of stone with our flesh and bone'. 'Hot wind moving fast across the dsert', 'All eyes see the figure of the wizard, as he climbs to the top of the world, no sound as he falls instead of rising, time standing still then there's blood on the sand'. In the end after Blackmore's amazing guitar solo and with the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra, Dio is singing, 'Where was your star', 'We believed', and an inclusion for the album title, 'I see a rainbow rising, look there on the horizon, and I'm coming home', as the people realize they are free ! But with conflicting emotions, 'My eyes are bleeding, and my heart is weeping'.
'LIGHT IN THE BLACK'-Takes up where 'Stargazer' left off. At an epic fast pace, with a lyrical aftermath, 'Can't forget his face', 'Has he really let us go', 'What's the final cost, will I really get away', 'Did he really fall'. Almost in unbelief, 'Can't believe it all', as they adjust to to moving on. 'There's a light in the black', 'Am I ready to go', 'I'm coming home', 'I'm going back to my home'. This also has an epic instrumental section with guitar and synthesizer solos. Breathtaking !
The original vinyl release was in May 1976 with a gatefold sleeve. Apart from black and white photos of the band it included the lyrics to 'Stargazer' only. It just missed out on the UK Top 10 Album Charts, reaching No.11, and made the American Billboard Top 50. In music paper 'Sounds' annual readers poll, Ritchie Blackmore was voted No.1 Guitarist, Rainbow voted No.1 Live Band/Act, and Rainbow Rising voted No.1 Album Cover. 'Rising' stayed in the British Charts for 33 weeks. It was the 'Heavy Rock Album of the Year'. It was voted No.1 album in the 'All-Time Top 100' in Kerrang! in 1981. And 'Stargazer' was voted in the Top 3 Kerrang! 'All-Time Top Songs' through out the 1980's.
In 1999 Polydor re-issued the Rainbow back catalogue including 'Rising' as the 'Rainbow Remasters'. It faithfully reproduced the original album artwork and sleeve and lyric, although CD size. With no extra material added. This year 2011, Polydor with the help of 'More Black than Purple' Editor, Jerry Bloom and sanctioned by Ritchie Blackmore, a Deluxe double CD version was released. Which included the original mix and 2 other mixes of the album, with a previously unreleased tour rehearsal version of 'Stargazer' added.
Other CD's containing live versions of tracks from 'Rising' are 'On Stage'(1977), the 3 double CD, 1976, 30th Anniversary releases - 'Live In' - 'Cologne'/'Dusseldorf'/'Nurenburg', released in 2006. Also 'Live In Germany 1976', 'Live In Munich 1977'(also on DVD, with Bob Daisley-bass/David Stone-keyboards), double CD's. Rainbow performed 'Stargazer' at the first Castle Donington, Monsters of Rock Festival on August 16th 1980 to 60,000 fans. Released a few months later on the Top 20 album 'Monsters Of Rock' from the festival (still not on CD!). The line up, being still Ritchie Blackmore and Cozy Powell, plus Graham Bonnet-vocals, Roger Glover-bass, and Don Airey-keyboards.
The original running times - Tarot Woman (5.58)/Run With The Wolf (3.48)/Starsruck (4.06)/Do You Close Your Eyes (2.58)/Stargazer (8.26)/A Light In The Black (8.12).
Recorded at Musicland Studios, Munich, Germany in February 1976. Produced by Martin Birch. Munich Philharmonich Orchestra conducted & scored by Rainer Pietsch. Cover painting by Ken Kelly.
Song book - Rainbow Rising Band Score - Published by Watanabe(version I used to look the lyrics up published in 1991, Japan).
Tour programmes - In Concert 1976-UK, Australia-1976, Japan-1976.
More Black than Purple (Issue No.6) Rainbow Rising 21st Anniversary. A complete issue on 'Rising' by Jerry Bloom. For details PO Box 155, Bedford, MK40 2YX. UK.
A COMPARISON TO OTHER ROCK LEGENDS
Rainbow Rising has been in the UK album charts 12 weeks longer than anything The Who have produced. Their longest being 'Live At leeds', for 21 weeks. The Kinks longest stay in the album charts was for 31 weeks, 2 short of 'Rising'. And it out stayed anything by Yes, their longest being 29 weeks. And also Jethro Tull, at 29 weeks. 'Rising' has been 17 weeks longer than anything Rush have had in the album charts. It's out done anything by Iron Maiden. It's out done anything by The Doors. Apart from Def Leppards one big album 'Hysteria', 'Rising has had a longer stay than all their others, but Def Leppard have been going 2 decades longer. And the same with Aerosmith who've been going 3 decades longer, but had only one album in the album charts for 5 weeks longer, actually it's only a week longer in the charts than the other Rainbow classic 'Down To Earth'. Black Sabbath have only one album that has lasted longer, but it's only single figures more. Compared to The Rolling Stones, The Stones have had 3 albums longer in the album charts in the UK than 'Down To Earth' by Rainbow at 37 weeks, with 2 equal by The Stones. But 'Rising' has had a longer chart run than all the rest of the Rolling Stones UK chart albums, that's 38 albums ! And compared to Blackmore's previous band Deep Purple, only 'In Rock' has had a longer chart run. With both 'Rising' & 'Down To Earth' out staying even 'Machine Head'. Actually the Joe Lynn Turner fronted line up of Rainbow's, 'Difficult To Cure' album stayed longer in the album charts than the David Coverdale Mk3 Deep Purple 'Burn' album. And was only 2 weeks short of Machine Head's run. And had a longer chart run than any of The Who's and Motorhead's album's as well. And with Rainbow's 3 Top 10 UK Hit singles to Deep Purple's 2, the statistics look quite good !