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BLACKMORE'S NIGHT/SHADOW OF THE MOON (edel records 0099022WHE)

WOW! I'm tempted to just leave it at that but I guess I should explain my reaction. Ritchie Blackmore is back, but he's not exactly ready to rock. He's teamed up with Candice Night, an absolutely incredible vocalist, and created a masterpiece that would best be described as renaissance music. "Shadow Of The Moon" is unlike any of Blackmore's previous work with Deep Purple and Rainbow. It's also probably the most focused and consistent work of his career.

Blackmore's Night consists of Ritchie Blackmore on electric and acoustic guitars, bass, mandolin, drums, and tambourine, Candice Night on vocals, Pat Regan on keyboards, Gerald Flashman on recorders, trumpet, and french horns, Tom Brown on cello, and Lady Green on viola and violins. Ian Anderson, of Jethro Tull fame, also drops by to add flute to one track. I don't usually list the instrument credits but in this case I think it gives the best impression of the Blackmore Night sound.

The disc contains 15 tracks, 9 of which were co-written by Blackmore & Night. The lyrics, which are chock full of images that follow the renaissance theme, are just excellent. The Blackmore/Night writing team is just another one of the pleasant surprises here. Ritchie also adds 3 new instrumentals and a new arrangement of "Greensleeves." The US release, due in early 1998, will also add an additional track.

There just aren't any negatives here. Every track is great and the disc, as a whole, takes the listener on a sort of magical journey to a time gone by. Candice Night's vocals have a soothing quality which, when matched with Blackmore's acoustic guitar, form an irresistible soundscape which just defies description. This is simply one of the best releases of 1997 and deserves your attention.

If your not already a fan of Ritchie Blackmore's work don't let that stop you from hearing Blackmore's Night. Before today I was, at best, only a casual fan myself. "Shadow Of The Moon" has put Ritchie Blackmore in a whole new light, let's hope it's a bright one! This disc will appeal to Ritchie Blackmore fans as well as fans of folk, acoustic, and medieval/renaissance music. Don't miss it, and pray for a US tour!