Fires At Midnight

Blackmore's Night

SPV / Steamhammer Records, 2001

REVIEW BY: Duke Egbert


I admit, this is not what I expected from Ritchie Blackmore.

Blackmore, the former front man of Deep Purple and Rainbow, has had a career stretching over thirty years. He was the musical voice behind rock classics "Smoke On The Water" and "Hush", has worked with hard rock icons like Ronnie James Dio, David Coverdale, and Ian Gillan, and is in many ways the Kevin Bacon of rock and roll. (Everybody's six degrees or less from Blackmore, I swear.)

So what in the name of Richard Wagner's ghost is he doing playing Germanic-tinged renaissance music combined with almost progressive rock? Has the world turned upside down? Has Ritchie Blackmore mellowed out? Hey, when the music is this amusing, who the hell cares?my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Blackmore calls Blackmore's Night the most satisfying thing he's ever done, and I have to admit one thing; it sure sounds like he's having fun on their latest release, Fires At Midnight. Blackmore's Night is a romp across the centuries, a madrigal-and-mosh-pit-melange that despite the oddness of the concept really works. (When I first looked at this CD, I said it would either really suck or be really, really fun. I'm pleased it was the latter.)

Now, the details. The production on Fires At Midnight is clean, crisp, and well done. The focus, despite Blackmore having the bigger name, is really Candice Night's voice (which is the most precise, well-articulated, elegant voice I've heard in a long time), and she carries off the widely varied material in spades. That's not to say Blackmore is lost in the mix; he still can toss off stylish guitar arpeggios, like the tasty, tasty licks on "I Still Remember" and "Fayre Thee Well". The remainder of the musicians range from competent to outright talented; special kudos should go to drummer Mike Sorrentino, who handles the widely varying time signatures and styles on Fires with smooth competence.

Notable tracks include the Gypsy-tinged "Home Again"; the rich and mysterious "Fires At Midnight" and "Hanging Tree"; and the downright lovely "Waiting Just For You". Blackmore proves he still has a touch with finger-style acoustic guitar on several tracks worth mentioning, especially "Storm" and "Mid Winter's Night". Finally, continuing this year's theme of wacky cover versions, Blackmore's Night takes Bob Dylan's "The Times They Are A-Changin'" and turns it into a pavane, suitable for stately court dances, should you be planning any sometime soon. (SCA event planners, take note.)

I have only one complaint with Fires At Midnight; I don't know who arranged "All Because Of You", but the overdubbed and effects-laden vocals sound like something done to please the cold and spiritless heart of an A&R man looking for a single. Next time, let Candice Night do her job, please, without mucking it up.

Overall, Fires is an excellent CD, showing Blackmore as a rock artist who has proved everything he wants to prove and is now playing music he loves. We should all, in the end, be so lucky.

Rating: A-

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2001 Duke Egbert and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of SPV / Steamhammer Records, and is used for informational purposes only.