Back when Ritchie Blackmore
gave up the hard rock life and teamed up with singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Candice Night
to perform as Blackmore's Night
, people used to buy their albums and go to their concerts because they thought they were going to hear Blackmore performing songs from his Deep Purple
days. What they actually got is a set list/track list of songs that span so many styles, time periods and geographic roots that it's impossible to assign them their own genre.
Expect the unexpected
"My mama always said life is like a box of chocolates," recalls the movie character Forrest Gump. "You never know what you're gonna get." In the same vein, I would submit to you that a Blackmore's Night concert or studio album is very much like a box of Cracker Jacks. It's comfortable and familiar, but there's always a surprise at the bottom of the box.
"I'm sure a lot of people would look at it as a surprise that Ritchie and I have decided to cover some his old works," says Night in a chat about the release (6/11/13) of BN's 13th studio album, Dancer and the Moon
. "Sometimes during our concerts we'll ask people what songs they would like to hear. Sometimes they yell out old songs -- Blackmore's Night songs, Rainbow songs, Deep Purple songs -- and we try to accommodate them if we feel that they'll work with the softer female singer and the ensemble that we have now. [Rainbow's] 'The Temple of the King' is one of those songs that people seem to request again and again and always seemed to like the way we did it."
Not only is their music unique, so is the blend of vastly different styles on the same album. I suggest that this is the only album ever recorded that contains covers of both Randy Newman and Uriah Heep. "Good point! We actually covered a Linda Ronstadt song, too, [but] it didn't make the cut on this album. One of the things we pride ourselves on is being able to do the variety of songs that we have the freedom to do. It's great to be able to kick down those walls of that box that keep you in one specific genre. Once you do that, it's really hard to go back in a box."
In keeping with the spirit of staying steadfastly out of the box, on the new album, "The Temple of the King" is sandwiched between a Blackmore instrumental, "Minstrels in the Hall" and the title song, "Dancer and the Moon." Listen to "The Moon is Shining (Somewhere Over the Sea)" from Dancer and the Moon
Falling down the rabbit hole
Photo by Michael Keel, courtesy Leighton Media
Another of the many unique things about Blackmore's Night is that both band and audience come to BN concerts wearing costumes, and ready to participate in the performance. Night says Blackmore selects roadies for their tours "not because of their background and experience, but because they're colorful characters. I always loved Alice in Wonderland
but I never thought I'd be sitting between March Hare and Mad Hatter at a tea party!"
And which character best suits Mr. Blackmore? "He's definitely Mad Hatter, or Caterpillar. Sometimes he's The Queen of Hearts, actually. I don't know if I should share that with you, but he definitely has a 'off with her head' side." At which point the aforementioned Mr. Blackmore is heard in the background saying that he's actually in a Cheshire Cat mood at the moment. Why buy?
If Blackmore's consummate skill with any instrument that has strings attached, and Night's exquisitely clear, expressive voice, skill as a songwriter, and mastery of a variety of instruments isn't enough to interest you, then maybe the fact that there's a Rainbow cover will.
When you listen to the album (and/or watch the DVD if you opt for the deluxe edition digipak) you'll readily see and hear why Blackmore's Night audiences are drawn to be participants, not just listeners. Although the spotlight is on the marquee names, the rest of the ensemble (in addition to being colorful characters) are excellent musicians, too.
And if you're one of those of us who like music that doesn't fit into a neat little box with a genre name on it, then put on your best March Hare suit and prepare to take a very enjoyable trip down the rabbit hole.
1. "I Think it s Going to Rain Today"
3. "The Last Leaf"
4. "Lady in Black"
5. "Minstrels in the Hall"
6. "The Temple of the King"
7. "Dancer and the Moon"
9. "The Ashgrove"
10. "Somewhere Over the Sea (The Moon is Shining)"
11. "The Moon is Shining (Somewhere Over the Sea)"
12. "The Spinner s Tale"
13. "Carry On... Jon"
Disclosure: a digital review copy was provided by Leighton Media. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy