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Saturday, November 22, 2014

Blackmore's Night: Dancer And The Moon


1) I Think It's Going To Rain Today; 2) Troika; 3) The Last Leaf; 4) Lady In Black; 5) Minstrels In The Hall; 6) The Temple Of The King; 7) Dancer And The Moon; 8) Galliard; 9) The Ashgrove; 10) Somewhere Over The Sea; 11) The Moon Is Shining; 12) The Spinner's Tale; 13) Carry On... Jon.

The truth is slowly oozing out: Blackmore's Night are going to keep on releasing albums until they have rearranged and re-recorded every single Rainbow song. And since they only do one old Rainbow song per album, on the average, their program seems to be fully set up until 2050, by which time Ritchie will be one hundred and five years old and little children will be calling him Gandalf. Candice Night, of course, will stay young and pretty forever, and be revered as yer average local elf-maiden: beautiful, stately, and boring.

In the meantime, Dancer And The Moon is fifty-three more minutes of treated medievalistic schmaltz, completely obedient to the formula. Just check the song titles — all the keywords are in place: "dance", "moon", "sea", "minstrel", "lady", and even "troika", continuing Ritchie's and Candice's love with a pedestrian-legendary vision of Russia, as thoroughly fake and corny if you even begin to mistake it for «the real thing» as everything else about this duo. "Where the snow lies so deep you can't even see the sun, run, my troika, run". Yeah right. When they incorporated elements of "Polyushko-pole" in their compositions, it was at least imaginative — this approach, however, warrants a giggle at best.

Victims of plunder now include Randy Newman (ʽI Think It's Going To Rain Todayʼ, replete with plastic synth riffage) and Uriah Heep (ʽLady In Blackʼ) — my attitude towards those guys is well known, so I don't mind them using material that was quite corny in the first place, but still, «tell me your choice in covers and I'll tell who you are». There is also a final moody «Euro-blues» instrumental called ʽCarry On... Jonʼ, whose title looks suspiciously similar to Bob Dy­lan's ʽRoll On Johnʼ from the previous year's Tempest — although this particular instrumental, melody-wise, sounds not so much as a potential tribute to John Lennon as, rather, like a poten­tial tribute to the much more recently departed Gary Moore. And it probably goes to show just how stale Ritchie has become in his choice of chords that I find myself far more interested in the brief grumbly organ solo than in Blackmore's guitar work.

Ultimately, the focus here is on the title track — another anthemic gypsy-dance number in the vein of ʽHome Againʼ, modestly catchy, but very clichéd with its hey-hey-heys and perusal of the same light-up-your-senses cuddle that has long since lost all taste — and on ʽSomewhere Over The Seaʼ, taken first as a slow, gallantly waltzing ballad and then immediately redone as an electronic dance number (ʽThe Moon Is Shiningʼ), so as to please grandfathers and grandchildren alike: another cheap, tasteless move on the part of a duo that seems to be losing the last shreds of decency and credibility.

Perhaps these paragraphs have given you the impression that Dancer And The Moon is a total embarrassing disaster next to the relative success of Shadow Of The Moon and other early records — well, not really, because that impression is much exacerbated if you listen to them all in chronological order. Taken on their own, all these albums follow more or less the same musi­cal / artistic philosophy: ultimately, they pander to the «novice attitude» of the pseudo-seeker who pretends, perhaps subconsciously, to be interested in «roots» and «history» and «world culture», but whose ideal understanding of such things is the movie 300. It used to be that, as long as we understood this, Blackmore's Night could occasionally be fun. But now it comes to the point that they have worn out their image, thinned out their ideas, and give us far more of this cheap ersatz than actual hooks, emotions, or viable syntheses of different traditions. The approach was questionable from the start, but it could work — and now it no longer can. Perhaps it is time to pack it in, and as an appropriate remedy, I suggest that Ritchie Blackmore become the resident guitar player for Lady Gaga, whereas Candice Night can earn an honest living singing backup vocals for the likes of Lana del Rey. In the meantime, this album gets a thumbs down — and, most likely, the same will apply to everything that comes next.


  1. "Carry On...Jon" is a tribute to the recently-deceased Jon Lord -- which, as a weird coincidence, may explain why the organ work is the most interesting part of the piece.

  2. have you considered giving ariel pink's discography a review?

  3. From your old site:

    "Much more important is the fact that the band manages to bring out a folksy medieval ballad that drags along for nearly five minutes and make it listenable ('Lady In Black'). It plods along rather monotonously, but in a catchy and upbeat way, and the vocal melody manages to be quite memorable, too."

    Now the interesting question GS doesn't answer is if Blackmore manages to improve on it. I think yes. He invents a new riff, makes sure to change keys a couple of times and adds some excellent melodic guitar work the way only he can. The addition of pseudo-Russian chanting is highly questionable though. Still it's obvious to me that Blackmore does a lot more to develop its full potential than Box and Hensley did. And LiB is one of my favourite songs of a band I like very much.
    The contrast with the unimaginative rerecording of Temple of the King hardly could be bigger. It's a textbook example of "superfluous".
    As for Carry on .... Jon I think it's a sincere tribute, even more remarkable as Blackmore has been very unkind towards Jon Lord a couple of times last 20 years or so.
    The rest of the album is unlistenable as far as I've heard the songs and I predict that the next few ones will be unlistenable as well. In the unlikely case there is someone around who isn't bored yet of what I have written a dozen times already: I'd wish Blackmore to go fully unplugged. Some light percussion, a double bass, Ian Anderson or Thijs van Leer playing the flute, Blackmore plucking a batallion of acoustic string instruments and Night singing. The completely minimalistic approach at least would raise the tension.

    1. If you have Ian Anderson why do you need Lady Night? Better lyrics, more distinctive vocals. If you still need female vocals, I'd call on some of the folk veterans like Maddy Prior or Jacqui McShee -- or at least someone younger who's just as distinctive and unique in her take on the material.