BLACKMORE’S NIGHT — the medieval-rock / renaissance-rock project formed in 1997 by Ritchie Blackmore (acoustic and electric guitar) and Candice Night (vocals and multiple instruments) — and helped along by an array of additional personnel — mark their anniversary with a release of a new double-disc compilation titled “To the Moon and Back: 20 Years and Beyond” which combines previously released material with re-recordings and new songs.
BLACKMORE’S NIGHT came about when Candice, a Rainbow fan, met Ritchie to request an autograph. This was in 1989, while she was worked on a New York radio station. They began to live together in 1991 and discovered a shared interest in Renaissance music.
Now the group perform around the country at Renaissance Fayres, and every one of their studio CDs has won awards (such as Best of the Year or Best Vocal album of the year) and all have entered the top five of Billboards charts. Their live shows, often set in castles and Unesco sites around the world, are frequently enjoyed by fans dressed in their idea of Renaissance costumes, dancing and singing as if time stood still …
“When we first started this Renaissance musical journey 20 years ago, it began in the most unlikely of places. A darkened recording studio, in front of a raging fireplace with mountains of snow outside and a band of rockers doing their backing tracks for a completely different CD in a completely different genre...” says Ritchie.
“Inspired by all things from another century we never truly felt at home in this one. Not until we created our own musical escape that helped us co-exist…”
“To perform in a 12th century castle courtyard with the moon rising above you, singing songs you created with thousands of people, many of whom are dressed up in garb…if you experience something like that once in your life, count yourself blessed.”
“We like to think that our music comes from a place where music is more sacred, organic, fresh, green and woody, communal, not processed. Renaissance mock rock and folk textures, imagination not just regurgitating the past for the purists but living it and feeling the pain and passion of the day.”
Curios on this pretty cabinet-collection include: Rainbow’s ‘I Surrender’ [a bonus track on CD II] with Candice providing the lead vocals that were once supplied by Joe Lynn Turner on this Russ Ballard number, first laid down by Graham Bonnet (oh! do keep up…)
Ritchie’s flexible ribbons of guitar are, of course, present and you’ll sing along in ruffled skirts and curly hoselets to pumping rhythms while you feast on the lustery sheen of Candice’s sweet-toothed pastillage.
Oldfield’s “Moonlight Shadow” is another oddity — originally sung by Hazel O’Connor but made famous by Scottish vocalist Maggie Reilly — this cover also gets the blouse and skirt treatment from Candice. Here, her slightly operatic voice offers peacherine sweetness as the melody rises and falls like a dirndl in a windy hayloft.
There’s stories a-plenty of Lennon’s ghost turning up to help young musicians, for example an oft-told tale of John teaching guitar to a novice, etc. As American kids know, “John’s not sad; he has had his day.”
‘Ghost of John’ is a traditional folk song — very popular during Halloween-tide in classrooms. This has pure rhythms, wirly pipes and conveniently placed woo-woos.
While “Possum goes to Prague” gives the listener the opportunity to enjoy Ritchie’s consumate instrumentation and Spanish guitar skills.
For fans of Euro-pop, squeaky memories and, of course, all the Rainbow possums out there…