Released in 1977, after only having two studio albums, “On Stage” tries to capture the power and energy of Rainbow. The performance captures five musicians trying their best. You have the awesome guitar work of Ritchie Blackmore. The man knows his way around the fret board of the guitar. Fronting the band is the powerful and one of a kind vocalist Ronnie James Dio. How the voice of heavy metal comes from a man that is so short is beyond me. But, Ronnie James Dio is absolutely great. He to me is one of the best vocalists of all time. Pounding the drums is Cozy Powell. Playing bass is Jimmy Bain. The man behind the keys is the very talented Tony Carey on keyboards and Orchestron.
Some say that this album falls short and fails to capture the power of Rainbow. I agree to a certain point. But, I also disagree. Agreed, the final mixing is not as good as it could be. There is a good bit of background noise to it. Agreed that some of the music falls flat in some places of the performances. But, the rawness is there. You are hearing the band at the height of their rise to fame. Not that they needed it.
This album captures the power energy of Ronnie James Dio a few years after Elf. His vocals on the Deep Purple cover “Mistreated” is flawless and shatters the atmosphere with his high range of vocals. I would say he does a better job at singing this song than what David Coverdale did with Blackmore in Deep Purple. Another highlight on Dio’s vocals is “Still I’m Sad.” This song has a lot of feeling. The studio version of this song was just an instrumental. But here, you get that added bonus of Dio’s vocals.
This record captures the excellent guitar work conducted by Ritchie Blackmore. If you like long songs with lots of great and powerful leads, then this is an album for you. He throws out riffs from start to finish. “Mistreated”, “I’m Still Sad”, and “Medley” have some great leads and riffs being conducted by Blackmore.
This record showcases the talents of the band itself. There is some kick ass drumming and bass work on here. Back that to Carey’s organ work and it’s like a super group style of musicianship.
Musically, there is a great set of songs. The arrangement of the songs is totally different that the restraints of the studio versions. And to be honest, there isn’t a single song here that I do not like. I love the intro with the clip from the “Wizard of Oz.” It was a nice touch. These six songs lengthened are epics in the right.
1. “Kill the King” 5:32
2. “Medley: Man on the Silver Mountain/Blues/Starstruck” 11:12
3. “Catch the Rainbow” 15:35
4. “Mistreated” (Deep Purple cover) 13:03
5. “Sixteenth Century Greensleeves” 7:36
6. “Still I’m Sad” (The Yardbirds cover) 11:01