There are always people who, to be difficult, like to throw rocks at the sacred cows of music. You know, that ass-clown who insists that SABBATH wasn't all that great, or that "Kill 'em All" is overrated, or that LED ZEPPELIN is a bunch of bullshit. But even amongst these career naysayers, it's hard to find anyone with enough of a foot-in-mouth fetish to dare suggest that RAINBOW, at their prime, didn't kick ass.We're not talking the insipid lineup that spawned big U.S. hit "Since You've Been Gone", or anything involving Joe Lynn Turner in any way, shape or form. Here we're focused on the Ronnie James Dio lineup, alongside Ritchie Blackmore at his most delightfully self-indulgent, backed by legends like Cozy Powell (R.I.P.) and Bob Daisley. This album is apparently the only legit release from this lineup (also including keyboardist Dave Stone), a scorching reading of some of hard rock's all-time milestones. Want every possible ounce of Blackmore pathos? Try an eleven-minute "Mistreated", seventeen-and-a-half minutes of "Catch the Rainbow", or a 25-minute "Still I'm Sad". The barn-burners ("Man on the Silver Mountain", "Long Live Rock and Roll", "Kill the King") are in evidence as well, and the sound is pretty awesome (after a slightly muddy opening minute or two). The entire band is a revelation — anyone who only knows Powell from his even-handed drumming on '80s SABBATH records, or Daisley from his recently-deleted work in Ozzy's solo group, should hear these guys going full-throttle here. Sure, some of these songs are available elsewhere, from other lineups, many on the classic "On Stage" album — but that doesn't take away from the fact that this is simply a killer set, from a band firing on all cylinders. "Still I'm Sad" here is a physically exhausting album side in itself, a glorious, decadent, overstuffed monument to arena rock excess, complete with star turns from everyone in the band so drawn out, you gotta wonder if they were covering for each other's piss breaks or backstage quickies. Dio is impeccable, Blackmore legendary, even the unknown Stone puts in a performance for the ages. Further explanation is redundant — RAINBOW are a building block of hard rock on par with DEEP PURPLE and BLACK SABBATH, and anyone who says otherwise is just being a dick. "Live In Munich 1977" captures a stellar lineup of the band at their best, and provides ample proof of why RAINBOW are a cornerstone for all the heavy rock and metal that's come after them. This is the sort of album you put in a time capsule, so that if people in a thousand years have forgotten how to rock, Blackmore can kickstart another aeon of six-string disciples. A must.
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