First major retrospective of multidisciplinary works by Milford Graves

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Happy Birthday Andy Warhol!Lou Reed and Andy in London, 1975

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Bryan Reesman Who Is Rainbow? Looking Back at 45 Years of Ritchie Blackmore’s Ever-Evolving Band

One of my earliest memories of MTV was seeing Joe Lynn Turner fronting Rainbow for the video of “Stone Cold.” Clad in a leather jacket, sporting a dark mane, and staring down the camera with confidence, he sang an atmospheric ballad of faded love and disillusionment while masked women circled him in front of a wall of mirrors. It wasn’t super revved up like later anthems I’d be exposed to, like “Power” or “Can’t Happen Here,” but I remember thinking about how cool the band was.

Little did I know that this was a video from their second-to-last album, Straight Between the Eyes, and that the group had a much deeper history that dated back to 1975. In fact, little did I know that Ronnie James Dio, whose video for “Rainbow In the Dark” was also garnering MTV airplay, initially led that British band. But this was the early ‘80s, and I was just beginning to learn about rock music. For a lot of teens then, Rainbow was the group fronted by Joe Lynn Turner for three albums: Difficult to Cure, Straight Between the Eyes, and Bent Out of Shape.

Singer: Joe Lynn Turner

Then I saw a video with Graham Bonnet fronting the band and singing “All Night Long,” an ode to, you know. This was around the time I was exposed to different Black Sabbath videos featuring Ozzy, Dio, and Ian Gillan and began learning about how some bands changed members. A few, evidently, did that a lot. And it was only until later on that I discovered that Rainbow had been fronted by Dio for three albums prior to Bonnet and that Ritchie Blackmore was part of an iconic group called Deep Purple he co-founded that would reunite in 1984. (Hey, I was a kid.)

Ultimately, I learned about the history of Rainbow backwards. Given my young age and the way in which I discovered the group, it makes sense. And with this week being the 45th anniversary of the release of the group’s debut as Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow, I thought it would be an apropos time to offer a primer for younger listeners and a nostalgic trip back for older fans. But in the proper order.

Rainbow was originally formed after Ritchie Blackmore grew frustrated with the direction that Purple had been going in. Frontman Ian Gillan had left the band in 1973, singer David Coverdale and bassist/singer Glenn Hughes were brought in to share vocal duties, and the group took on a bit of a funkier direction with their second album together, Stormbringer. They produce some fantastic tunes, particularly on the 1974 album, Burn, but the guitarist didn’t love the nature of the new music.

Originally, Blackmore planned to do a solo album, and he began collaborating with Dio and three of his bandmates from his group, Elf. That latter band had often opened for Deep Purple and had been produced in the studio by Purple bassist Roger Glover. Pleased with the results of what he did with Ronnie and his mates, Ritchie decided that they should do more music and recorded a whole album. He also left Purple.

This new ensemble was obviously not a typical hard rock group, especially considering they were playing heavy music under the moniker of Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow and later performed with a curved, lit-up rainbow over their stage. Their name was reportedly taken from the famed rocker hangout, The Rainbow Bar & Grill on the Sunset Strip. Funnily enough, Elf had a song called “Rainbow” on their second album, Carolina County Ball.

The musical combination of Blackmore, Dio, and the three Elf members clicked, received acclaim, and found them an audience. For the following two albums, the group (known simply as Rainbow by album No. 3) recorded a lot of seminal hard rock and metal. The through-line for the group on this first trilogy was the pairing of Dio and Blackmore, the latter who would ultimately become the only constant member throughout the group’s eight-year tenure. Future Iron Maiden producer Martin Birch was on board for all three Dio releases.

What made the group’s debut work was the combination of his blues influences, neoclassical style, the interwoven keyboards, and Dio’s heartfelt lyrics that were inspired by medieval fantasy themes. Despite the name of Dio’s previous band Elf – which itself grew out of (seriously) doo-wop group Ronnie and the Prophets – that boogie rock group was not the vehicle for the types of lyrical themes that Dio would explore in Rainbow and later in Black Sabbath and his own group.

Beyond being in a heavy band called Rainbow, Dio’s lyrics might have been more in step with the prog-rock of the time. But he made them work from sheer passion and conviction in his delivery. As one meme floating the interwebs has declared: “You may be metal – but you’ll never be as metal as Dio riding a tiger under a rainbow.”

Singer: Ronnie James Dio

The debut Rainbow album certainly was an eclectic offering. “Man On The Silver Mountain” served up the kind of gritty riffing that was signature Blackmore, while by contrast, “The Temple of the King” delivered a graceful ballad (not a love song, thank you) and “Catch The Rainbow” took us on a more tranquil, Pink Floyd-ish journey. The upbeat covers of Quatermass’ “Black Sheep of the Family” and the boogie of “If You Don’t Like Rock N Roll” were there to satisfy the blues-rock fans, while the instrumental cover of The Yardbirds’ “Still I’m Sad” not only grooved along but would satisfy anyone demanding, “More cowbell!”

Although a bit uneven, Rainbow’s debut showed a lot of promise, but Blackmore was not convinced of this configuration’s potential and the group never played live. Because of the boogie style of Dio’s bandmates from Elf (keyboardist Micky Lee Soule, bassist Craig Gruber, and drummer Gary Driscoll), the guitarist replaced them with a new lineup for Rainbow’s sophomore album. That roster would include keyboardist Tony Carey, bassist Jimmy Bain, and drummer Cozy Powell, with only the latter fully surviving onto the next album. (We’ll discuss that revolving door soon.)

While Rainbow’s debut was an eclectic affair, Rainbow Rising (1976) was a more focused, cohesive, hard-rocking release that put them more squarely in the metal camp and is the best album of the Dio era. Tunes like the hard-charging “Tarot Woman” and “A Light In The Black” paired with the mystical, epic “Stargazer” showed the quintet firing on all cylinders and forging a distinct sound. They also proved without a doubt that fantasy themes and keyboards could fit comfortably in the heavy rock realm. The group did a successful tour and attracted a respectable following, and Rising is now considered by many to be one of the finest metal albums of all time.

Their third album, Long Live Rock ‘n’ Roll (1978), also a top metal legacy pick for many, continued that trajectory and injected a surprisingly pastoral ballad called “Rainbow Eyes” that included gentle electric guitar, strings, and flutes and never burst into any sort of metallic fanfare. If you want to pinpoint the gestation of Blackmore’s Night, the guitarist’s Renaissance-flavored folk-rock project that he founded in 1997, listen right here. The tune is also musically closer to the 16th-century folk tune “Greensleeves” than Blackmore’s electric “Sixteenth Century Greensleeves” from their debut.

But after the third album, Blackmore and Dio did not see eye to eye on the group’s musical direction. The guitarist was plotting a more commercial trajectory, while the singer liked their heavier slant. Instead, the latter got to join Black Sabbath and give those struggling icons the kick in the ass they needed (after Ozzy was booted out). Blackmore shuffled the line-up again, retaining drummer Cozy Powell and bringing aboard keyboardist Don Airey; his old Purple bandmate and bassist, Roger Glover; and a singer with powerhouse pipes called Graham Bonnet.

Singer: Graham Bonnet

Produced by Glover, Down to Earth (1979) combined gritty hard rock like “Danger Zone” and the Eastern-tinged “Eyes Of The World” with more commercial numbers like the raunchy “All Night Long” and the poppy, Russ Ballad-penned “Since You Been Gone,” which almost cracked the Top 50 singles in America. Despite his over-the-top approach and impressive vocal prowess, Bonnet was also influenced by ’50s and early ‘60s rock and R&B, but working with Rainbow would lead to the hard-rocking realm of subsequent groups like Alcatrazz, Impellitteri, and the Michael Schenker Group.

The combination of Bonnet and Blackmore did not click that long, with the latter later grousing about Bonnet’s short hair and white suit which he felt looked more Vegas than rock and roll. But the more commercial slant of the group pleased the guitarist, who brought in drummer Bobby Rondinelli and Fandango singer Joe Lynn Turner for 1981’s Difficult to Cure.

Okay, let’s pause for a second. It’s clear that, despite the name of the band simply being shortened to Rainbow, this group was always Blackmore’s baby. He always enlisted talented musicians which kept the quality of their albums and tours at a high level. But, for undoubtedly varied reasons, the lineup kept changing. Around 1979, Blackmore claimed no one was ever fired from Rainbow. Regardless of why, it had to have been both elating and frustrating for many of those members who came in and out without planting deep roots there.

One thing is for sure: The Joe Lynn Turner years were the group’s most commercially successful. Each album produced a successful Mainstream Rock radio track in Billboard: “I Surrender” (No. 19), “Stone Cold” (No. 1, as well as No. 40 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles), and “Street Of Dreams” (No. 2, and No. 60 on the Hot 100). And they got a lot of MTV airplay, which, as former Scorpions drummer Herman Rarebell recalls, helped major hard rock and metal bands of the time break through to the masses. (American radio stations were not supporting them much then.)

Turner had a soulful voice, and like Bonnet, could belt things out for the big anthems. He had the right look for early MTV, and he won over a female audience, which was important for heavy rock outfits at the time. Beyond some ballads and more commercial numbers, Rainbow also hit hard with stompers like “Can’t Happen Here,” “Death Alley Driver,” and “Make Your Move” which showed off the prowess of the group. Even with Bent Out of Shape, the group’s most commercial effort, that line-up had some fierce chops. Don’t tell me that you can’t get your rocks off on the hyperkinetic “Fire Dance” and “Drinking With the Devil” (cliché title aside).

Singer: Doogie White

So what derailed this renewed Rainbow rising? Quite simply, the classic Deep Purple reunion that produced 1984’s Perfect Strangers, which quickly went platinum, launched a successful world tour, and brought that band back for good. Turner even joined for one album (1990’s Slaves and Masters). Blackmore stayed until 1993’s The Battle Rages On…, but reportedly dissatisfied with the more melodic direction that Purple was taking, left and reunited Rainbow with no one from any of the classic line-ups.

To be fair, 1995 album Stranger in Us All, while billed under Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow, was allegedly meant to be a solo album. But pressure from RCA/BMG to make the album as marketable as possible supposedly forced that name change. Although the album captured some of the classic Rainbow vibe, it was not as strong as previous efforts and did not chart in the United States or the UK. However, it did introduce the world to singer Doogie White, who has since gone on to sing for newer line-ups of Praying Mantis, Tank, and the bands of guitar legends Yngwie Malmsteen and Michael Schenker. This newer Rainbow toured internationally in support of the album, including backup singer Candace Night, who would become Blackmore’s wife and musical partner in the long-running Blackmore’s Night, which the guitarist found much satisfaction with.

Prior to the passing of Ronnie James Dio a decade ago(“The Man On The Silver Mountain” is inscribed on Dio’s sarcophagus), there had been rumblings that there would be a reunion of the classic Rainbow lineup. It’s a shame that never happened, although Dio was busy with the reunited Black Sabbath (their lineup rechristened Heaven and Hell). In recent years, it was rumored that Joe Lynn Turner would return to the band to launch a successful reunion. However, that didn’t come to pass, as Turner himself has openly discussed in the press. Instead, Blackmore re-ignited the band again with a lineup of lesser-known musicians (with the exception of keyboard Jens Johansson of Yngwie fame). They have toured in Europe where they are more popular (they had numerous Top 10 UK albums back in the day) and have recorded some singles, but no new album is forthcoming. Singer Ronnie Romero has been gaining attention and has also joined the reunited Vandenberg, who are set to release their first studio album in 35 years.

Singer: Joe Lynn Turner

Regardless of whether we’re going to get any sort of real Rainbow reunion ever again, they left behind a legacy of very strong studio albums and numerous live releases. Their sound and songs are unmistakable. The group’s founders were certainly proud of what they achieved together. Dio played many Rainbow songs live with his solo band from 1982 onward, while Blackmore’s Night did their own folksy versions of the band’s tunes. And, by the way, “Can’t Happen Here” is more relevant than ever. Just watch the video.

Because this is the 45th anniversary of the first Rainbow album, it would be best for newbies to start there. The group would solidify their sound more on the second and third album, produce a lot of classic tunes, and lay down the beginnings of the power metal movement that has been popular throughout Europe over the last 25 years. They also influenced the melodic rock scene of the ‘80s. Every Rainbow album has at least one or two tracks that certainly stand the test of time. You may prefer one incarnation over the rest or, like me, embrace them all.

It’s a rare thing for a group that changed singers on three consecutive albums to maintain that level of consistency. But Rainbow did that and more.

Now, how about that Joe Lynn Turner reunion?

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Special thanks to Gail Flug for her historical insight and anecdotes.

The post Who Is Rainbow? Looking Back at 45 Years of Ritchie Blackmore’s Ever-Evolving Band appeared first on Discogs Blog.

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Ethiopian Records launches crowdfunding campaign for new release Wel

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Dhanveer Singh Brar book opens the page on Dean Blunt’s BBF Hosted By DJ Escrow

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Aki Onda releases three albums over three months

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Dr. Jennifer Otter Bickerdicke 4 Artists to Add to Your Queer Hip-Hop Playlist

Since its inception in the 1970s, hip-hop has consistently displayed a certain level of homophobia. Whether looking at the lyrics of the seminal tune “The Message” by Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five (in which two F-bombs are dropped) or tracks by Eminem such as “Criminal” (“A homosex, hermaph, or a trans-a-vest / Pants or dress, hate fags? / The answer’s yes”), LGBTQ+ bashing has unfortunately been a thread that ran through many songs in the genre, possibly as an accepted part of the culture, as illustrated by the aforementioned Em. In an interview for American serial 60 Minutes, Marshall Mathers tells journalist Anderson Cooper that the word “faggot” was “thrown around” in the MC battling scene he came up in, though the legendary rapper claims to not “have any problem with anybody.” The casual bantering about of such a historically derogatory term shows a total disconnect from the power of the very words that form the artillery of an MC’s power, as well as disregard or disengagement with the meaning and far-reaching impact that a phrase can have past the microphone.

This is why rapper Lil Nas X, real name Montero Hill, coming out last year at the height of his international hit, “Old Town Road,” was such a momentous event. The track first made Nas X a star on the social media platform TikTok before topping the Billboard list for a staggering 19 weeks, the longest-running time a song has held the cherry spot since the chart started. Queer and African-American and ascending to such dizzying heights, Nas X and his country-rap stylings — mixing two of the most hetero-dude music genres of all time on pop-chart dominance — are not only a sign of a changing world but also of a brave and uncompromising artist. After all, it was not that long ago (just over two decades) that the pop world was rocked at the then-unbelievable revelation that George Michael was gay.

Nas X beckoned his fans via Twitter to take a closer look at the lyrics to his song, “C7osure,” using the single as his official declaration of being gay. It marked a huge departure from a listener accepting sometimes uncomfortable lyrics found in various tracks; Nas X actively asked people to closely engage with what he was saying, not just be a passive listener consuming whatever comes through their headphones. Lil Nas X continues to live his lyrics: “I want and I need / To let go / Use my time to be free.”

However, Lil Nas X is not alone in being out and proud in the hip-hop world. Below is a totally incomplete — but quality! — list of some other folks you need to get on your turntables now.

Cakes Da Killa

Besides having one of the best MC names of all time, Cakes Da Killa (Rashard Bradshaw) captures the fun of hip-hop that seems to be missing from so many tracks of his contemporaries.

His 2016 debut LP, Hedonism, is a hop-scotch of upbeat tunes skipping between the infectious clap-along track “New Phone (Who Dis)” to the house-flavored “Gon Blow” featuring tones of the classic ’90s anthem “Pump Up the Jam” by Technotronic and the lyrics, “I’m here to make it hot from the womb to the coffin.” Going a bit further back, his 2013 single, “Goodie Goodies,” will be stuck in your head after one listen. The Billie Holliday-styled music video showcasing the technicolor rapper in full glory.

Mykki Blanco

Mykki Blanco is the stage name and persona under which Michael David Quattlebaum Jr. can be found. Referring to her first time stepping out of her house in full drag as her “Golden Ticket Day,” Quattlebaum’s Blanco has become, according to Elle, “Hip-Hop’s New Queen.” With self-declared influences ranging from Riot Grrrl to Madonna to Lauryn Hill, Blanco is a “cross-dressing poet extraordinaire.” Her style is equally almost uncategorical — watch the video for “Join My Militia (Nas Gave Me A Perm)” to see for yourself. It’s almost like Peaches and Lil Peep had a lo-fi rap offspring, all jittery rhymes and slowed-down beats.

If you want to further twist your melon, take a listen to the up/down/all-around single “Wavvy.” With over 2 million views on YouTube, the song’s video uses the gritty inside of a U-Haul van as a performance stage, cut with a 1920s-era intemperate parlor scene. More recently, the first single taken from her 2016 debut LP, Mykki, “High School Never Ends” perfectly encapsulates the cultural moment. Sounding like the close cousin in style and funk to Beyonce’s “Formation,” the 7-plus-minute-long video for “High School” is a don’t-miss. Packed with Blair Witch scenery, it pushes the viewer to question gender, race, and stereotypes.


Lizzo is not strictly hip-hop, I know — more an R&B and pop artist. But her badassery needs to be further applauded. From her body-positive stance to calling her fans “Lizzbians,” this queen is a model for hopefully more uncategorizable talents. Though it is a crew of hot men that the “Tempo” singer seems to be pushing off in the video as she prances around in a blue fur cloak and patriotic red, white, and predominantly blue two-piece, Lizzo refuses to be pigeon-holed into any category. In a Teen Vogue interview, she proclaimed, “When it comes to sexuality or gender, I personally don’t ascribe to just one thing … I cannot sit here right now and tell you I’m just one thing … That’s why the colors for LGBTQ+ are a rainbow! Because there’s a spectrum, and right now we try to keep it black and white. That’s just not working for me.”

The themes of self-acceptance and love are also relevant across the Lizzo catalog and are especially prominent across her 2019 major-label debut, Cuz I Love You. Whether proclaiming that the “Truth Hurts” — the video shows the singer marrying herself and has amassed over 200 million views on YouTube — or strutting in a slinky majorette uniform and declaring she feels “Good as Hell,” the sheer number of people connecting with these images and ideas leaves no doubt as to a major culture and attitude change towards a more inclusive pop chart, if nothing else.

Yo! Majesty

It has been over a decade since this American hip-hop trio dropped their full-length LP, Futuristically Speaking … Never Be Afraid, on Domino Records. Openly lesbian and Christian, Yo! Majesty combines elements of punk and electroclash (remember that genre?) with some fresh-flowing rhymes. You are at least somewhat dead inside if one of the many remixes of their hit, “Club Action,” does not have you at least tapping your foot along.

Their knowledge of hip-hop — embedded in a slew of moxy posturing usually the reserve of men — will have even the most staunch head impressed. I mean, when is the last time you have heard anyone reference MC Hammer’s New Jack Swing girl band Oaktown’s 3-5-7 in a song (“Call me Juicy / I got ya crazy”)? Their lo-fi videos also make this Gen Xer feel nostalgic for the early days of MTV — remember, when it was music television?

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The post 4 Artists to Add to Your Queer Hip-Hop Playlist appeared first on Discogs Blog.

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falsepriest A Roundup of Discogs Marketplace Product Updates from July 2020

In July, we announced our plans for improving the Discogs Marketplace. This continued focus on developments enables us to keep driving buyers — Discogs veterans and newbies alike — to your shop. Shipping Policies are already a preferred method of setting shipping rates for most of our top sellers on Discogs, and buyers show a clear affinity for being able to understand their shipping costs upfront then move through the order process to get those discs and tapes from their Cart to their Collection.

Of course, a healthy Marketplace doesn’t just cater to the buyer but also simplifies selling. The following product updates from July 2020 aren’t just about getting more buyers through the door; they’re also about making selling easy and effective for you. (And there’s an unavoidable tax update in there, too).

Sellers Can Set Their Minimum Order Total

Even when the buyer pays shipping costs, there’s a lot of behind-the-scenes work for a seller that sometimes means orders below a certain value don’t offset the time and effort that goes into grading, listing, packaging, and setting up postage.

To address this, we’ve introduced the Minimum Order Total field in your Seller Settings (in the Buyers section, specifically, which is where you can also exclude orders from buyers below your preferred feedback rating or from certain buyers by entering their usernames). This field is optional in your Seller Settings. By entering a value in this field, buyers won’t be able to place their order until it reaches the amount you specify. This value will apply to all regions you sell to.

If a buyer tries to complete their order without meeting your specified amount, they’ll get a notification in their cart to let them know how much they need to increase their order by (from your shop) to check out. The seller in the example below has set a Minimum Order Total of €10, so the buyer will need to add at least one more item worth €5.30 or more to place their order. This does not affect ‘Make an Offer’, you’ll still be able to accept offers below the Minimum Order Total.

This gives sellers more control over the orders accepted with Shipping Policies, encourages multiple-item orders, and ensures buyers are serious (meaning fewer Non-Paying Buyers and order cancellations). When the sellers are able to set the expectation for what they’re willing to ship, you also benefit from a lower cancellation rate. For buyers, this means you’ll likely get more music for the same amount you’d be paying in shipping anyway.

Please note that we are still working on implementing this on the Discogs mobile apps, and with the update cycles there it may still be possible now to see some orders coming in below the minimum.

Free Shipping Better Displayed In the Marketplace

Sellers who offer Free Shipping as a shipping method often enjoy an increase in orders and more multiple-item orders. It goes without saying that free shipping is a big draw — it feels like you’re getting away with something. But the lure of free shipping only works when people know about it. From now on, when a seller offers free shipping, it’ll be a lot harder to miss. 

On the Seller Profile

When a seller offers free shipping, you’ll see a banner at the top of their Seller Profile page with the minimum order amount for free shipping to be applied. Here’s what it looks like: 

What’s displayed in this banner will depend on the address you’ve provided in your shipping address (or your IP if you’re logged out). A seller may only offer free shipping to certain countries or have different order amounts that free shipping applies to in different countries and continents, so you’ll only see what’s relevant to your location. 

In the Cart

There’s no worse feeling than checking out a cart full of gems for $48 only to realize that free shipping kicks in at $50. As a buyer, when you add an item to your cart you’ll see a yellow notification (pictured to the right) if the seller offers free shipping and the order total you need to meet to take advantage of the offer.   

On Marketplace Listings

Coming soon, you’ll also see a small notification (similar to the one displayed in the cart) on marketplace listings when the seller offers free shipping, as well as the minimum order amount to qualify. This update is in development and will appear over the coming weeks.

Local Pickup

In case you missed it, we added Local Pickup as a shipping method in our Shipping Policies around the time that Free Shipping was added.

New Zealand Goods and Services Tax Collection

One of the few certainties in life is now also a reality on Discogs for our Kiwi buyers and sellers. As of July, we are required to start collecting Goods and Services Tax (GST) on all orders placed by a New Zealand buyer with a seller outside of New Zealand. New Zealand sellers without a New Zealand Business Number (NZBN) will also be required to pay GST on your Discogs seller fees.

You can find more information about this update in this blog post and in our help documentation. You can contact our support team for more assistance.

More Updates to Come

Over the coming weeks, we’ll be sharing updates to our Shipping Policies feature to make it more comprehensive and intuitive for more sellers. In the meantime, learn more about Shipping Policies here, and sign up for a webinar in your region for localized information on how to get set up ahead of October 1.

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The post A Roundup of Discogs Marketplace Product Updates from July 2020 appeared first on Discogs Blog.

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“I need the therapy of taking photographs, and I don’t mean just snapping, which I do a…

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