There was much revelry among the parapets of Castle Blackmore when Squire Ritchie of Weston-super-Mare announced he was going to dust down Ye Olde Electric Mandolin and perform sonnets by Rainbow and Deep Purple. And lo, it came to pass with a batch of live shows in the UK and Germany last year.
To the surprise of many, said shows were well received, despite the presence of obscure back-up minstrels and a relatively unknown frontman in the form of Chilean crooner Ronald ‘Ronnie’ Romero.
But stripped of the excitement of the occasion, how does the man in black’s Stratocaster comeback fare in plain old audio format? Pretty well, actually. Blackmore has lost none of his mojo and any fears that he might be taking the piss, as is hiswont, evaporate as soon he fires his opening salvo: an appropriately turbocharged version of Purple’s Highway Star. Spine-tingling? More like spine-tasering!
Romero’s vocals are a minor revelation, although the rhythm section is more cruise ship than battleship. But who cares? Against the odds, this is more celebration than abomination.