Blackmore’s Night – “To The Moon And Back” 2CD (Minstrel Hall Music)
Conceptualized while Rainbow recorded their last CD on a snowy winter’s night, Ritchie Blackmore’s renaissance folk rock project took the world by storm (as with all things he did!) and besides being a radical departure from the legendary hard rock that made him a guitar god, was equally a bold rejection of the commerciality inherent in the music industry. Lamented by the rock masses, Blackmore gradually faded into a self fulfilling hermit like existence, refusing bountiful offers to participate in reunions or release new rock material. Together with his wife and singer Candice Night, Blackmore sought to re-create medieval pageantry, albeit not just in its playing but also its passion and while the mainstream rock world shook its head in dismay, a few got it, along with new believers who warmed to the charm and were attracted by dressing in period garb, along with watching the 7 strong Blackmore’s Night touring group play in 12th century castles and Unesco sites worldwide. No clocks, no pressure, just the camaraderie of dancing and singing as if time stood still! Now, 10 years since their debut “Shadow of the Moon” was released comes this compilation of most requested and beloved songs from their fans but also containing several bonuses including brand new songs, specially re-recorded versions, live tracks and a bonus video featuring Blackmore and Candice sound checking before a show. Along with classics like ‘Fires At Midnight’ with Blackmore still showing his hard rock fretboard prowess come new takes on ‘Moonlight Shadow’ and the fiddler gaiety of ‘Coming Home’. With Candice taking the lead on Rainbow’s famous ‘I Surrender’ it’s surprisingly not a radical departure by keeping to its hard rock roots and with even more intricate Blackmore work than in the original, not to mention a surprising show of rock power from Night! If that wasn’t jaw dropping enough comes Blackmore’s version of ‘Land of Hope and Glory’ which mixes classical, Purple-esque hard rock and Blackmore’s Night bliss – it’s anything but the proms but fantastic! With Ritchie playing acoustic guitar, mandolin, mandola, cello and hurdy gurdy and Candice performing on 7 medieval woodwinds including bagpipe chanters, shawm, corner muse, penny whistles, recorders etc as well as writing all the lyrics and performing lead vocals, “To The Moon And Back” captures the majesty of Blackmore’s Night, much of which is echoed in today’s period and folk metal bands. Although many had long believed the old man had gone off his rocker with this project, maybe, just maybe it was down to magic of Ritchie Blackmore himself?