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.