Top Ten Songs of Blackmore’s Night
Ritchie Blackmore needs no introduction to music fans worldwide. The guitarist played lead for the phenomenal Deep Purple, and was the founder and producer of Rainbow, another band which has managed to not only survive the cutthroat world of music, but establish itself as a solid powerhouse. His credits include gold and platinum records in eleven countries and four continents, enough hits on Billboard’s Top 10 to fill a record book, and over three decades of wowing fans the world over. From the shredding riffs of Purple’s hardest hits to the delicate etherealness of his current projects, Blackmore has proven he can do it all, although his recent adoption of the acoustic over his signature Strat has left more than one fan shocked at the virtuosity of the player.
Candice Night, on the other hand, was something of an unknown quantity when she teamed up with Blackmore in 1997. Her specialty is her voice, a delicate and perfectly tuned thing that seems to belong to Faeryland, not to Earth. But matching her vocalization is her talent for lyrics; she writes the words to most of the band’s songs, allowing Blackmore to weave the haunting harmonies around her melodic lines.
The band itself has brought new meaning to the word Renaissance; not only is the music a vast departure from the alt-rock of Blackmore’s earlier work, but the majority of the instruments in use by the band are in fact Renaissance-era. Night herself has recently mastered the use of several of the obscure instruments, weaving them into the recently released Fires at Midnight album. But although the band is relatively new (next year will mark its first decade), it has produced a number of songs that showcase the talents of this unlikely pair. We rank their top ten efforts as follows:
#10-Faerie Queen (Village Lanterne). A quiet and introspective piece, this showcases the pan pipes amidst the delicate guitar of Blackmore. One of the few melodies in a major key for this band, it provides a steady look at what the band is capable of on the slow and soft end.
#9-Olde Village Lanterne (Village Lanterne). The title track of the second of the BN releases is stronger than the #10 track, but lacks the fire and power of higher-ranked material. A solid piece.
#8-Greensleeves (Shadow of the Moon). Although neither the melodic line nor the words are new (both were written in the Regency period of England), Blackmore’s Night brings an unusual depth to the piece with the addition of a twin harmonic line that ripples through a minor septatonic chording structure. The vocal talents of Night are eclipsed here by the virtuosity of the instrumentalists.
#7-Queen For A Day (Ghost of a Rose). This album, although strong in many ways, lacks any tune that is a true standout of the band’s abilities. “Queen for a Day” is among the best of the album’s tracks and features Night’s vocals against a blend of hammered dulcimer and harder-then-normal riffs. Although not a standout piece, it does mark several strengths of the band and clocks in at #7.
#6-Hanging Tree (Fires at Midnight). One of Night’s best juxtapositional storylines, “The Hanging Tree” is a story set in motion by the sweeping themes of the instrumentals. In many ways, the story of the cursed/blessed/who knows tree is underscored by the whisper of violin and bells in this piece.
#5-Storm (Fires at Midnight). The second of the tracks to make the list from Fires at Midnght, “Storm” almost overpowers Night’s voice with the heavy instrumental focus. Although normally this would be a death-blow, this track actually manages somehow to make the ethereal voice of Night seem almost natural in such a symphony of sound: a silver lining within the turmoil of the storm.
#4-Play Minstrel Play (Shadow of the Moon). Ritchie Blackmore invited an old friend to guest in on this track: Jethro Tull front man Ian Anderson, with his signature flute. The result is a rollicking skirl of voice and music, with a more than passing nod to the Celtic dance tunes that inspired it.
#3-Streets of London (Village Lanterne). Blackmore’s Night’s cover of the Ralph McTell standby might seem at first blush to be a mistake; the modern band has little in common with the 1960’s performer. But the result is well worth the time spent listening to it. The eternal themes of the forgotten and the lonely are evoked perfectly through Night’s unique phrasing, and are backed by the addition of a minor harmonic line that echoes the sense of loss.
#2-Ocean Gypsy (Shadow of the Moon). Blackmore’s Night at its ethereal best. Night’s massive range is showcased here, building a glorious storyline against a melodic theme as relentless and mysterious as the sea. Only one song can outstrip this powerhouse of musical skillÃ¢Â?Â¦
The #1 slot belongs solidly to the title track of Fires at Midnight. In this track, Night matches the musical strength with her own power, seeming to explode through the surging melodic line to explain the fascinating flames. Blackmore’s extra-long solo seems almost to improvise from the melody, blending a wild tangent of minor harmonics into the blazing riffs. A song that can thrill, and make even the wallflowers join the dance, “Fires at Midnight” is the true revelation of Blackmore’s Night!