In1997, when heavy rock virtuoso Ritchie Blackmore began playing neo-medieval folk music with his now wife Candice Night – while also dressing like an extra from Robin Hood: Men In Tights – it was widely assumed that he’d lost the plot.
In fact, Blackmore’s Night was a logical extension of what he had begun in the 70s with Rainbow and the ‘castle rock’ fantasy of Sixteenth Century Greensleeves. And throughout the last 16 years he has always maintained a link to his own past, reworking Rainbow and Deep Purple songs with Blackmore’s Night.
So it is with the duo’s new album. It features a remake of Rainbow’s The Temple Of The King, a beautiful song first recorded in 1975. And it ends with Blackmore’s tribute to his old bandmate, the late Jon Lord. Titled Carry On… Jon, the track has echoes of Purple circa 1970. Also included – alongside new songs, such as The Last Leaf, that sound like they were written in the Middle Ages – is a cover of Uriah Heep’s Lady In Black.
And so the artist formerly known as The Man In Black continues in his peculiar way. Like crooner Val Doonican before him, Ritchie Blackmore rocks, but gently.