Ritchie Blackmore's "private music" celebrates its 25th birthday with another public outing

Originally greeted by a mixture of controversy and ridicule, Blackmore’s Night's Shadow Of The Moon has improved with age

Blackmore’s Night: Shadow Of The Moon (25th Anniversary edition) cover art
(Image: © Minstrel Hall Music)

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In 1995, Ritchie Blackmore told me about the music made with friends in convivial after-hours acoustic jams. “It just flows out of me...” he said, adding: “This is my private music, that’s really me. But I don't want that to get out...”

Two years later he had a change of heart and this first Blackmore’s Night album – mostly acoustic and based on renaissance ballads popular five centuries earlier – was released to a mixture of controversy and ridicule. 

Today, other than the crystal clarity of Candice Night’s voice, two things are surprising. One; it’s often underpinned by a single skin drum, beaten by Blackmore himself. Two; fixating on the rare occasions he plays Fender Stratocaster misses the point. This is folk music – as evinced by the cover of Renaissance’s Ocean Gypsy and the flute of Ian Anderson gracing Play Minstrel Play.

Admittedly, Writing On The Wall is ruined by electronic percussion but there is much to admire. Greensleeves is a fine rendering of that famous traditional tune and Spirit Of The Sea handsomely echoes Whiter Shade Of Pale. This 25th anniversary remix (boosted by two songs re-recorded in a “Ritchie & Candice home session”) remains the polar opposite of Deep Purple and Rainbow but has improved over time. 

Neil Jeffries

Freelance contributor to Classic Rock and several of its offshoots since 2006. In the 1980s he began a 15-year spell working for Kerrang! intially as a cub reviewer and later as Geoff Barton’s deputy and then pouring precious metal into test tubes as editor of its Special Projects division. Has spent quality time with Robert Plant, Keith Richards, Ritchie Blackmore, Rory Gallagher and Gary Moore – and also spent time in a maximum security prison alongside Love/Hate. Loves Rush, Aerosmith and beer. Will work for food.