Blackmore's Night: Don't Judge a Book by Its Cover

by Will Wallner
Posted Dec 5, 2012 at 11:24am

I decided to write a blog post dedicated to Ritchie Blackmore.

Everyone knows who is. He's the guy who wrote probably the best-known guitar riff of all time.

So what's he doing now? You probably know he has a project with his wife, Candice Night, appropriately titled Blackmore's Night. I'd like to dispel some misconceptions about this extremely creative project. My target audience includes people from the so-called "metal community" who seem to judge this project with extreme bias. I hope after reading this that young metal guitarists and fans in general might broaden their musical tastes and develop beyond the strict confines of "metal."

I recently saw a review for Blackmore's Night's latest release, A Knight in York, and was surprised at the user comments posted in reply to the review. Many said something like this: "I wish Blackmore would pick up his Strat and play electric again."

I should point out this was a metal news website, and I have seen many similar comments posted on rock/metal websites all over the Internet. It's sad to say, but this proves people will pass judgement without ever actually listening to the music. If those people had bothered to listen, they would hear that Blackmore actually plays a lot of electric guitar in Blackmore's Night and actually has recorded some of his best solos on Blackmore's Night albums.

On a side note, it would be interesting to know what his current electric setup is. I don't believe he uses Marshalls, but he still has the tone of a guitar god! To get you started here are three songs I suggest you listen to that have some amazing guitar work from Blackmore.

"Locked Within The Crystal Ball" (Secret Voyage): This is a very catchy song with strong melodies. Its almost a rock song, and Blackmore's solos throughout could have been recorded when he was in 20s and proves he's lost none of his fire.

"Street of Dreams" (The Village Lantern): This is a cover of the Rainbow classic and has some very tasty guitar solos, particularly in the outro solo.

"Fires at Midnight" (Fires At Midnight): Like all Blackmore's Night songs, the vocal melody is strong and always the focus of the composition. The song builds toward what is, in my opinion, one of the best guitar solos recorded in the last 20 years.

Listen to these songs and see if you can develop an appreciation for the music. Notice how each song is built around a strong melody. Surprisingly this is something that seems to have been lost within modern metal bands whose songs seem to be built around production techniques.

Very few musicians have had a career as long as Blackmore, and many fewer have managed to maintain their musical integrity without becoming a nostalgia act. He continues to create new original music and keeps growing as a musician. If you look at his peers, he almost stands alone in this respect. If you ask anyone, no matter what age, to hum a piece of classical music, the majority will sing the opening from Beethoven's 5th Symphony. Hundreds of years from now, if you ask someone to sing a rock song they will sing the intro to "Smoke On The Water."

Many guitar players are considered legends, but few will be remembered hundreds of years from now, and that's something very important to consider. Most of us would rather not think about it, but we will all die eventually, and with that in mind, you realize that what's important is the legacy you leave behind. That's why I believe Blackmore will go down in history as the greatest rock guitarist of all time.

Next week, I will talk about the gradual loss of blues influence within modern heavy metal guitar players. Cheers!

Will Wallner is a guitarist from England now living in Los Angeles. He is the lead guitarist for White Wizzard (Earache Records) and in 2012 toured Japan, America and Canada. He recently signed a solo deal with Polish record label Metal Mind Productions for the release of his debut album, which features some of the most influential musicians from hard rock/heavy metal. Follow Will on Facebook and Twitter.