When you think about legendary rock guitarists of the late 1960s, you probably think of Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, and Jimmy Page; coincidentally, all three of those British guitars had cut their teeth playing in The Yardbirds. While Deep Purple formed in the 1960s, their widespread international success came in the early 1970s, which led to the rise of Ritchie Blackmore as a true guitar hero. “Smoke On The Water,” “Burn,” “Highway Star” and “Woman From Tokyo” are all examples of the timeless riffs created by Blackmore. Yet, Deep Purple has proven to be only one facet of Blackmore’s career as he has also made eight studio albums with Rainbow and 10 full-length studio efforts with Blackmore’s Night.

In spite of all that success, Blackmore has remained one of the most mysterious musicians in rock history. While the demand has been there for many years for Blackmore to regroup with Deep Purple — and even to put together a large-scale reunion with Rainbow — the British-born Long Island, New York resident has opted to play with wife Candice Night in Blackmore’s Night instead. The renaissance-influenced Blackmore’s Night is generally light on heavy guitar, and the group’s setlists generally steer clear of the hits that initially made Blackmore famous. However, for a handful of shows in England in 2016, Blackmore changed his tune, playing some high-profile performances in England as Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow.

On Memories In Rock II, Blackmore and band — which includes vocalist Ronnie Romero, keyboardist Jens Johansson, bassist Bob Nouveau, drummer Dave Keith, and backing vocalists Lady Lynn and Candice Night — tear through many of the Deep Purple and Rainbow classics that you have been waiting decades for Blackmore to play. The two-disc set, also available on vinyl, closes with a new studio recording, “Waiting For A Sign.” The CD version of Memories includes a bonus third disc, a DVD, which includes interviews with 10 different people involved with the shows’ production and some backstage footage. The booklet from the CD version include photos from these concerts and liner notes penned by Stathis N. Panagiotopoulos. Ultimately, this is a proper deluxe release by 2018 standards.

The main complaint that many have with Memories In Rock II is the lineup for these shows. Blackmore aside, none of the musicians featured on this were key members of Rainbow or Deep Purple. Meanwhile, most of the classic members of both bands are not only still alive but touring. However, the band does sound well-rehearsed and tight on Memories. Also, diehard Rainbow fans may complain about the abundance of Deep Purple material being included, but I personally enjoy that various eras of Blackmore’s catalog found their way into the live set. Another complaint likely to be stated is how there were cameras there to record interviews and backstage footage, and the shows themselves were recorded, yet this release does not have footage being released of the concert performances themselves; the original Memories In Rock was previously released by Eagle Rock Entertainment as a live DVD. Indeed all of those things help feed into the enigma that is Ritchie Blackmore.

Should this be Blackmore’s last foray into hard rock and the commercial parts of his catalog, he went out on a high note. It is clear that there was and is demand for him to return to Rainbow and/or Deep Purple, and that his music still connects on a global level. So, the bottom line is that Ritchie Blackmore stuck to his guns, did things his way, and ultimately proved that he can be successful no matter what. But we the long-time fans can still hold on hope that Blackmore calls up Joe Lynn Turner, Graham Bonnet or another one of his old collaborators for old times’ sake…

Check out the trailer for Memories In Rock II just below.

Memories In Rock II Track Listing:
01. Over The Rainbow
02. Spotlight Kid
03. I Surrender
04. Mistreated
05. Since You’ve Been Gone
06. Man On The Silver Mountain
07. Woman From Tokyo
08. Soldier Of Fortune
09. Perfect Strangers
10. Difficult To Cure
11. All Night Long
12. Child In Time

01. Stargaze
02. Long Live Rock’N’Roll / Lazy
03. Catch The Rainbow
04. Black Night
05. Carry On Jon
06. Temple Of The King
07. Smoke On The Water
08. Waiting For A Sign (new recording)

01. Ritchie Blackmore Interview
02. Ronnie Romero Interview
03. Jens Johansson Interview
04. Bob Nouveau Interview
05. David Keith Interview
06. Candice Night Interview
07. Lady Lynn Interview
08. Dave David Interview
09. Andreas Bock Interview
10. Michael Bockmuhl Interview
11. Bonus Clip
12. I Surrender 2017 Backstage Clip

Run Time: 139 minutes
Release Date: April 6, 2018
Record Label: Minstrel Hall Music

Here’s an interview with Ritchie Blackmore about, well, Ritchie Blackmore.