As the DVD age gathers speed (at a rate which VHS never remotely achieved), music fans wish to be able to see as well as hear classic artists at the height of their powers. For Rainbow fans, the audio of choice is usually 'Rising' (although 'Long Live Rock'n Roll' continues to grow in stature). 'Live In Munich 77' is the perfect companion DVD, upholding and enhancing the band's awesome live reputation, and pushing forward the credentials of Messrs Blackmore, Dio and Powell as rock gods. Nuts to cliche, it's just true.

The main body of the release is a full 100 minute show filmed by 'Rockpalast' at the Munich Olympiahalle on October 20th 1977, which burns with an unspeakable intensity that no 'new' band could begin to match. The Munich show had an extra edge to it even before it began, with Ritchie Blackmore having just spent a day in custody for thumping a bouncer at Rainbow's Vienna show on October 18th. It may well have been cancelled had it not been for the presence of the TV cameras. Instead, Ritchie was rushed to the venue, and the band finally took to the stage just after midnight.

Those members of the audience who had been able to stay where treated to a terrific show which kicked off with a scorched earth version of 'Kill The King', and ended with a wild guitar demolition. Following the opener came a wonderfully heavy 11 minute take of 'Mistreated', 9 minutes of 'Sixteenth Century Greensleeves' (not my favourite Rainbow track, but which has gone up in my estimation after seeing and hearing this performance), 18 minutes of 'Catch The Rainbow', and 8 minutes of 'Long Live Rock'n Roll'. Then it gets deeper, with a 16 minute 'Man On The Silver Mountain' preceded by a breakneck charge into 'Lazy', and incorporating a startling blues sequence, a busk through the 'Long Live Rock'n Roll' out-take 'Night People', and a Blackmore solo using Taurus bass pedals which will make your speakers get up and dance across the room if they're not nailed to the floor. 'Still I'm Sad' weighs in at 27 (!) minutes and includes all manner of delights, with David Stone's choral effects laden solo spot, Cozy's fabulous 1812 drum solo, and of course the song itself in all its glory. The encore is a violent rendition of 'Do You Close Your Eyes', followed by the aforementioned guitar bash. An exhausting show all round, turn it up for the duration and peel yourself of the wall afterwards. On top of the sensual overload of the music itself , the computerised rainbow still looks very impressive, the sound quality is excellent, and the picture quality (aside from some sound-on-vision lines) is very good.

The track list is the one source of disappointment (as it was at the time for many fans). Despite having a new album in the can, the only 'new' track since the 1976 tour was the rather corny 'Long Live Rock'n Roll'. The track it displaced was 'Stargazer'. Oh well. However, much as it would be great to see the likes of 'Gates Of Babylon', 'Lady Of The Lake', 'Sensitive To Light' etc, the tour was intended to tie in with the 1977 'On Stage' album.

The DVD bonus features are excellent. The three 'Long Live Rock'n Roll' promo films are there, and look great. Two have differences from the versions which circulate among collectors. 'Gates Of Babylon' gains a previously lost verse and loses footage of a camel train crossing the desert. 'LA Connection' (see the video clip opposite) is also reduced to a straightforward performance video, without the inserts of neon lights, planes and city-scapes. Blackmore's miming is a bit out at times, but the promos all look very good, and ooze character. Some of Ronnie's vocals are different. No idea why. Also included is an interview with bassist Bob Daisley, in which he discusses his time with the band, and the Munich and Vienna shows in particular. And finally a very classy touch, the DVD packaging contains a miniature reproduction of Rainbow's 1977 tour programme.

So, all in all, buy it. It's great.   review: David Browne

Live In Munich 77

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