Rainbow • Down To Earth (Extended Edition)

It seems churlish not to be 100% positive about this release, I mean, it has the original eight tracks remastered, sounding every bit as fresh and exciting as they did back in 1979 (no remix required), no less than fourteen studio bonus tracks, and a very informative booklet. And yet the quantity over quality control issue that has dogged some Deep Purple related CD and DVD archive releases is at work here again, reducing the impact of the package.

Disc one contains the album, littered with epics such as "Eyes Of The World" and "Lost In Hollywood", the hard-edged hits "Since You been Gone" and "All Night Long", and the splendid showcases for Graham Bonnet's poor old vocal cords "Love's No Friend" and "Danger Zone". The only weak spots here are the filler track "No Time To Lose", and the didn't-quite-work disco-metal experiment "Makin' Love", but even those two retain a certain waoh-factor due to the sheer strength of the band. The disc is rounded out very nicely with the better than your average single b-side "Bad Girl" and better than virtually anything ever recorded b-side "Weiss Heim".

Disc two is a mixed bag of instrumental out-takes and alternate lyric stumble-throughs which I could largely do without. OK, so there may not have been anything more interesting available, but most of this lot would have been better off left on the shelf. The first eight tracks present an alternate version of each original album track, but generally fall short of interesting. The remixed instrumental backing track for "All Night Long" benefits from the wonderfully hard guitar tone used in this era by Ritchie Blackmore, with some pleasingly choppy rhythm work brought to the forefront to fill in for the lack of vocals. Unfortunately the layers of guitar are mixed at the same level for the guitar solo, which as a result sounds like a bad acid trip. More planking around with sound levels also gives us an entirely useless "Cozy Powell Mix" of the same track.

I suppose the measure of the out-takes is to list which ones I would play again for pleasure, rather than just once for interest's sake. The former (small) group would contain "Spark Don't Mean A Fire", which is "No Time To Lose" with alternate tune and tongue twister lyrics. It may be better than the released version, but you've got to feel sorry for poor old Graham Bonnet trying to sing the verbal assault course without tripping up all over place. "Danger Zone" (Instrumental Out-Take) is a powerful run through of the riff - no vocals, no keys, half a solo, and muchas maracas. And for me, that's it., the rest are one time only's:

"Eyes Of The World" (Instrumental Out-Take) is the final backing track with vocals and keyboard solo stripped out. Not a lot of use. "Since You Been Gone" (Instrumental Out-Take) loses most without vocals and keys to hold it together. "Ain' t No Love In The Heart Of Me" is awkward even to type never mind sing. It's feel sorry for Graham time again, struggling through an early "Love's No Friend" with alternate lyrics. The backing track is repeated later on, with the vocals mixed away to a ghostly background level. Of the others : "Lost In Hollywood" with clavinet mixed up, guitar buried, no solo section and no vocals? Enough.

So, for buy it to enjoy disc one, expect nothing from disc two, and you won't be disappointed.

review: Mark Ainsworth