Erick Bertin | Santo Domingo, Heredia Costa Rica | 02/14/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"First thing first: My actual rating for this would be 4.5 stars, but since i can't put that... If you read my review of Deep Purple's two pack of "Burn/Stormbringer", then you already have an idea of what I'm going to say. This is a great CD, with awesome songs and great playing, but...is this still Rainbow? I mean... Ritchie Blackmore left DP in 1975 because he didn't like the funkier direction they were heading into, and formed Rainbow with singer Ronnie James Dio. Over the course of 3 records(4 if you count their live CD), THEY invented a new type of heavy rock: big, grandiose, symphonic inspired music, with medieval, renaissance, fantastic imagery in their lyrics, in turn inspiring the euro-metal wave led by Iron Maiden a couple of years later (Maiden founder/bassist Steve Harris is a major Rainbow fan)which still lingers proudly in Europe to this day. But then, in an inexplicable change of heart, Blackmore decided to once again change direction and forsake their trademark brand of music. Rainbow was always a "musical chairs" band, suffering major lineup changes from record to record, but the departure of Dio over this change in direction definitely marked the closing of an era.
Kiss the dragons and dungeons lyrics goodbye , welcome the radio friendly, tender... ballads? Yes, you heard me, ballads! Enter Graham Bonnet. After failing to convince Ian Gillan to join Rainbow, Blackmore then opted to recruit a relative "newcomer" (more on that later), enlisted the help of former DP bandmate Roger Glover as bassist AND producer, and rounded up the lineup with survivor Cozy Powell on drums and Don Airey on keyboards. Despite all the changes in personnel, the band manages to turn in very solid performances overall: Cozy was a powerhouse in and by himself, Roger is an always dependable groove master and Don doesn't feature prominently but makes some very tasteful contributions. The man in Black(more) himself is on his best behavior, riffing and soloing along without overindulging.
And that's probably the biggest change from the band's previous incarnation: rather than using the songs as vehicles for virtuosic playing (as had been the case sometimes in the past), the band (and especially Blackmore) chose to shed some of the flash in favor of a more cohessive approach, one that benefited greatly from Roger's pop sensibilities in order to crack the mainstream. The change in musical direction is pretty brutal, but still, I find this brand of rock very much enjoyable (as opposed to the AOR direction the band would adopt subsequently with Joe Lynn Turner...don't get me wrong, there's nothing wrong with AOR, it's just not my type of music...).
Yes, the faces are different, but listening to this CD, sometimes I could swear some of these songs were written for the Stormbringer sessions: listen to "Lady Double Dealer" from Stormbringer and then to "No time to Lose", "Love's No friend", "Danger Zone" and tell me if I'm wrong... Only the tandem vocals of David Coverdale and Glenn Hughes are missing here!These are songs more in the vein of vintage Purple, with perhaps a pinch more of pop, so no "Stargazer"'s to be found here. The one song that comes closest to that earlier sound is "Eyes of the World", thanks to its somewhat more elaborate structure and flashy playing.
But then you have the aforementioned ballads, 2 to be exact: "Making Love" & "Since you've been gone", that will remind you of Stormbringer's "Soldier of Fortune", not so much in their sound, but rather in their definite commercial appeal. The first one is the best, in my opinion, but the latter would actually become the band's first hit. And what about the "new" guy? Bonnet wasn't exactly a newcomer, but rather an "obscure" choice if you will, having actually started his career in the late 60's in a duo called The Marbles with which he enjoyed his first taste of success (as well as being first noticed by Blackmore) and releasing 3 solo albums by the time he was asked to join Rainbow. Bonnet fares very well here, as his voice and style suit perfectly the new approch that Blackmore was shooting for, which was powerful but radio friendly.
Unlike Dio, Bonnet is more of a baritone, but the range and depth of his voice are still impressive, stealing the spotlight on the rockers and softer numbers alike. Graham was nowhere near as operatic as Ronnie was, but still, having only heard a few clips of this lineup performing live at Donington in 1980 (available at youtube), I can definitely say that Bonnet was the right man for the job of succeeding Dio on vocals, powerful enough to cover the earlier material adequately and with confidence to spare brimming on the new album, making a strong impression and successfully taking the band into the new direction they were hoping for and making perfect sense of the album's title, with music that was definitely more "down to earth" than ever before. Too bad it didn't last...
I insist, this record is great for everyone: if you like DP, you will like it. If you like Dio era Rainbow(the best, if you ask me...), you will still like it, musical direction change notwithstanding. And if you simply like good music, you'll love it. The reason why I rate it 4.5 and not 5 stars is simply because I feel that the record sounds a little too much like Mk III Deep Purple, and therefore, a little redundant: I mean, why start a new band if you're gonna sound like your old band, right? But if you don't care about this, you will enjoy this a great deal. This is the last Rainbow record that I truly, really enjoy. Get it! "
"Don't know about your brain but you look all right"
mwreview | Northern California, USA | 11/12/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Down to Earth came out in 1979 and featured the vocals of Graham Bonnet who was and still is a real hunk (I don't know about his brain but he looks all right--haha) and has an amazing voice. One of the many great vocalists in Rainbow's history. Of the eight tracks on this album, five I would consider to be excellent while three I could take or leave. I don't like this album as much as I like 1982's Straight Between the Eyes with Joe Lynn Turner, but it is a very good record from that time just before the glorious 1980s. Plus, it features Ritchie Blackmore, of course, so you know it rocks.
"All Night Long" (3:49): Hard rockin' opener about a groupie who knows just what (rather who) she wants. "I need a girl who can keep her head all night long" indeed. You also gotta like the line "Don't know about your brain but you look all right." Honesty in a rock song, what more could you want? "Eyes of the World" (6:36): Complex, epic track, almost progressive. Amazing vocal performance and cool keyboards at the bridge. A lot of depth to this one. "No Time To Lose" (3:41): The drums are actually my favorite part of this song. Too much good time rock n roll sound for my tastes. One of my least favorites. "Makin' Love" (4:36): I really like the verses to this track. It is a slower-paced number. Bonnet sings with a lot of passion. I also like how the drums kick into the bridges.
"Since You've Been Gone" (3:10): Nice, short, radio-friendly single. Very catchy with addictive guitar riffs. I'm not sure how well it has aged. I guess it might be considered cheesy today, but I still think it kicks. "Love's No Friend" (4:52): I'm not that crazy about this song. It is slow and plodding and kind of drags. "Danger Zone" (4:30): I do not like the chorus on this track. The verses are better with the driving guitar notes and the guitar solo is a highlight as well. The background vocals are annoying and it's repetitive at the end. "Lost in Hollywood" (4:51): Definitely ends the album on a positive note. This track flat out rocks! Bonnet's vocals kick major you-know-what."
Guitar rock perfection
B. E Jackson | Pennsylvania | 05/04/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Down to Earth captures the spirit of the previous three Rainbow albums and the commercial approach of the soon-to-be pop band version.
I don't CARE if the lead singer for Rainbow's fourth album isn't as good as Ronnie James Dio, I *love* Down to Earth!
Graham Bonnet doesn't have the pleasant sound or the amazing vocal range of Dio, but everything else that made the first three Rainbow albums so enjoyable is STILL here- quality songwriting, amazing guitar playing, lengthy and epic songs, etc.
You have a couple pop songs (that were both the biggest hits from the album- which was probably a bad idea because they give people the impression the band sold out or something).
I really like the lengthy, epic guitar-dominated tracks ("Eyes of the World" and "Danger Zone"). They remind me of previous frantic and intense guitar workouts such as "Stargazer", "Light in the Black", and "Gates of Babylon").
Then you also have just really good guitar playing on the shorter songs, such as "No Time to Lose", "Makin Love" and "Love's No Friend". These songs also contain memorable vocal melodies. My personal favorite song is the speedy closer, "Lost in Hollywood" with its soaring chorus and fast-paced guitar playing.
Overall, wow, this is certainly an underrated album. It's closer to the first three Rainbow albums and therefore rules a LOT."
An album sounds better with Graham Bonnet on it!
Smegma Cheese | l got a hundred guns, a hundred clips 'coz l'm fro | 12/11/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"With the addition of Graham Bonnet, Rainbow went from the l58O's with Ronnie James Dio to the l98O's. From out of a castle in the English moors to the Sunset Strip.
The only flaw on the album is ''Love's No Friend''. A feeble attempt of a power ballad, but the rest of the album deserves it's place amongst other Blackmore masterpieces like Machine Head, Burn, RB's Rainbow, and Straight Between The Eyes.
''Eyes 0f The World'', ''Making Love'', No Time To Lose'' are tasty little tid bits that can have you subconciously driving your car well above the speed limit, while the finale ''Lost ln Hollywood'' leaves you asking for the license plate of the truck that hit you.
Unfortunately this was the only offering that Graham did with Rainbow, although an unreleased song ''Bad Girl'' showed up on Finyl Vinyl a few years later.
Even though this album is called Down To Earth, it will take you to another stratosphere."
One of their best with great tunes and great guitar playing
Aquinas | celestial heights, UK | 05/20/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I thought this was one of Rainbow's best albums - the tunes are great and the guitar playing is top notch. Bonnet, as singer, was a bit limited unless you like a gravelly sound (like AC/DC) but still he was a good transition from Dio. It is odd that for some reason Blackmore needed to refresh the band every so often and thus not only do we have a new singer but Roger Glover from Deep Purple is back. This was their last decent album"