I don't get into the West End a lot these days because I find the crowds rather upsetting, so while I was there I had a wander along the shelves to see if there was anything else I wanted. And I picked up a couple of Rush live albums and Brand X's first album, heavily discounted because I may be the only person in London to have owned it on vinyl or indeed to remember Brand X at all. And then I caught sight of a label that read `Blackmore's Night.'
Now, I won't insult the intelligence of the villagers by assuming that they know who Ritchie Blackmore is. He was the guitarist with Deep Purple and Rainbow, and as such played quite a large amount of the soundtrack of my youth. I'd heard that he was fronting quite a different kind of band these days, but I thought that if I ever wanted one of their albums I'd have to go to Amazon for it. Finding a stack of their work in the Virgin Megastore was a nice surprise, so I bought a couple of cds, a live album and a studio one.
Wikipedia describes Blackmore's Night as `an Anglo-American Renaissance-inspired folk rock band,' which I cannot quibble with. It's basically Ritchie Blackmore on stringed instruments and his partner, Candice Night on vocals and some Renaissance wind instruments, backed by a rotating and very competent bunch of musicians and singers.
Is it any good? Well, it falls inside the same demographic as Jethro Tull at their height, Ritchie is still one of the great guitarists, and Candice has a very nice voice and is a total babe, all of which works for me. A lot of the stuff on the studio album starts to get a bit samey after a while, but there's a song called `Fires At Midnight' on the live album which appears in both acoustic and, er, non-acoustic versions which I think is quite remarkable. Others might think it's twee and hackneyed, but I think it's one of the loveliest songs I've heard for a long time and I simply can't stop listening to it. I'm pleasantly astonished, which happens to me not a lot these days, so I'm a happy hutch right now.