Rainbow Albums Ranked

Rainbow (also known as Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow or Blackmore’s Rainbow) is a British rock band, formed in 1975 by guitarist Ritchie Blackmore. They were originally established with Ronnie James Dio’s American rock band Elf, but after their self-titled debut album, Blackmore fired the backing members and continued with Dio. Rainbow recorded two more studio albums with Dio—Rising (1976) and Long Live Rock ‘n’ Roll (1978)—before he left the band to join Black Sabbath in 1979.
Rainbow’s early work primarily featured mystical lyrics with a neoclassical metal style, then went in a more pop-rock oriented direction following Dio’s departure from the group. Three British musicians joined in 1979—singer Graham Bonnet, keyboardist Don Airey and then-former Deep Purple bassist Roger Glover—and this line-up gave the band their commercial breakthrough with the single “Since You Been Gone” from their fourth studio album Down to Earth. The band continued their success in the early 1980s with their next three albums Difficult to Cure (1981), Straight Between the Eyes (1982), and Bent Out of Shape (1983). After breaking up in 1984, Blackmore reformed Rainbow in 1993 with a new lineup, which recorded their eighth and last studio album to date Stranger in Us All (1995). Blackmore’s change in direction, from rock to Renaissance and medieval-influenced music, led to Rainbow’s second dissolution in 1997. He revived the band once again in 2015,  and they still perform live occasionally. Rainbow was ranked No. 90 on VH1’s 100 Greatest Artists of Hard Rock. The band has sold over 28 million records worldwide. Here are all of Rainbow’s albums ranked.

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9. Finyl Vinyl (1986)

“A take it or leave it souvenir for the Rainbow faithful, this mostly live retrospective is not surprisingly heavy on the Joe Lynn Turner era, Ritchie throwing a few bones to former relations Dio (too-long versions of “Man on the Silver Mountain” and “Long Live Rock ‘n’ Roll”) and Bonnett (“Since You’ve Been Gone” from the infamous Monsters of Rock Festival appearance). The JLT stuff is kept concise and powerful for the most part, stadium rockers like “Spotlight Kid” and “Power” working well on the big stage, a live with strings version of the stupid “Difficult to Cure” being the main clock watching moment. Main points of interest here though are the non-LP studio cuts, a cowbell-clunkin’ Down to Earth outtake, “Bad Girl,” and JLT sounding more like Paul Rodgers on the brawny B-side “Jealous Lover” both making this set worth some spare change for the curious, at least.”

8. Stranger in Us All (1995)

Stranger in Us All feels like Blackmore‘s shot-in-the-dark, semi-inspired effort to reconnect with his hard rock fan base. Around this same time, he was gearing up his Renaissance-flavored new age project, Blackmore’s Night. For Stranger in Us AllBlackmore recruited vocalist Doogie White, keyboardist Paul Morris, bass guitarist Greg Smith, and drummer John O’Reilly. Many songs, such as “Wolf to the Moon,” “Cold Hearted Woman,” and “Stand and Fight,” are decent enough. The two standout tracks, “Hunting Humans (Insatiable)” and “Black Masquerade,” are the best at recapturing classic Rainbow‘s energy, drama, and dynamics. “

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7. Difficult to Cure (1981)

“Blackmore is full of trademark driving riffs but this a band effort, not just the lead guitar. Joe Lynn Turner comes in as new vocalist and immediately hits the right notes, strong and powerful and a fine example of the classy Rainbow tradition of previous vocalists. The rhythm section, helped in continuity terms by the inimitable Roger Glover, but also including a new American drummer gives just the right driving force that Blackmore needs. The tracks are almost all rockers, but No Release and Midtown Tunnel Vision slow down the tempo a bit to give the listener a chance to catch breath. I Surrender did marvelously for a rock track in hitting number 3 in the UK singles chart, and it does stand out, but not by much – such is the general high quality throughout.”

6. Straight Between the Eyes (1982)

“There are moments where things are a bit rougher like the guitar revving on ‘Death Alley Driver’. However, this was 1982 and most established acts had softened up a bit even though the NWOBHM was starting to hit out, so this can seem a bit tame in comparison. Despite that, this is a pretty consistent set of songs without reaching any great heights. I think the best of this lot is ‘Eyes of Fire’ maybe because its middle-eastern influences means it sounds more like something from the Dio era rather than sounding like Foreigner.”

5. Bent Out of Shape (1983)

“With Joe Lynn Turner on board, Rainbow tried one crossover record and one no-frills hard rock record — which meant that Bent out of Shape, their third album with Turner, provided a fine opportunity to get a little arty. Not that the band has turned into Genesis or even returned to the mystical pretensions of its early work; they have merely broadened their horizons. Ironically, that means that they’ve retreated, at least partially, to the radio-ready sound of Difficult to Cure, but this time, they aren’t just trying for a crossover hit. As producer, Roger Glover has widened their sonic horizon without losing sonic muscle, making sure that the album is, at its core, hard rock. “

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4. Down to Earth (1979)

“This album has some really cool songs like “Eyes of the World”, “Danger Zone”, and “Lost in Hollywood” that just kick unbelievable ass, but then there’s songs like “All Night Long” and “Since You Been Gone” that still have me cringing every time I hear them. Granted, it’s gotten a little better since I first heard them years ago, but it still pains me how Ritchie Blackmore can create absolute masterpieces and then create songs like those two..”

3. Long Live Rock ‘n’ Roll (1997)

“This album marks the end of the Dio era Rainbow, a trilogy of almost unbeatable, inspired, rock lps, which still resonate and provoke strong opinions amongst the hordes of fans who adore this style of heavy rock,to this day, including me.Blackmore and Dio went their separate ways, Ritchie started to flirt with the american aor style of rock, whilst Ronnie re-appeared fronting a rejuvenated ozzy-less Black Sabbath, and released two quite magnificent studio albums. LL R N R is another tour de force, only bettered by Rising. “

2. Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow (1975)

“First of all. This is a solid album from first to last track. Only that make it in my mind worth a 3 / 5 grade. The production is just fine and this doesn’t sound like a copy of Deep Purple (which could have been the case) but has an own personality. The three tracks that stands out for me are: Man on the Silver Mountain: A true classic rock song. One of those tracks that would have become huge no matter who had done it. Catch the Rainbow: The albums slowest and longest song. I could see Pink Floyd do something similar to this (but then it would have been a bit more progressive, I guess). Just a song that breathes with beautiful guitar and smooth vocals. The Temple of the King: Just another one of tricks that Deep Purple had up his sleeve. I couldn’t really hear any Mark of Deep Purple do this one but Ronnie James Dio nails it perfectly. 

1. Rising (1976)

“Fantastic songwriting,arrangements,individual performances,very melodic,legends-in-the-making(at the time).Ritchie Blackmore,Cozy Powell,and Ronnie James Dio were becoming legendary at this time.If only this album was PROPERLY recorded,produced and mixed.The longtime fans have wanted that to happen ever since it was released.What a shame that you can’t really hear Jimmy Bain(on bass guitar)!!!His pulsing bass really helped propel those songs…and those heavy grooves with Cozy Powell….!!!Maybe,in the future,this album will FINALLY be recorded,mixed,and produced in a way that allows EVERY INSTRUMENT to be heard.”