DVD Review: Ritchie Blackmore – The Ritchie Blackmore Story

DVD Review: Ritchie Blackmore – The Ritchie Blackmore Story
Eagle Rock Entertainment
All Access Rating: A-

Ritchie Blackmore - The
Ritchie Blackmore Story 2016
Enigmatic, demanding, quick to anger and evidently fond of pulling off elaborate pranks, the iconic Ritchie Blackmore has always jealously guarded his privacy. Though rather stodgy and a little dry, a revealing new documentary titled "The Ritchie Blackmore Story" finds the dark lord of rock guitar sorcery in a more open and talkative mood than usual.

Offering as much access to Blackmore's inner-most thoughts and memories as anyone ever thought possible, the film relates Blackmore's story in a dry, straight-forward fashion, going chronologically from birth through his time with pop act The Outlaws, his early session work in the '60s and then exploring in more detail the triumphant highs and disappointing lows of his glory days with Deep Purple and Rainbow. And with his wife Candice Night by his side, Blackmore recounts how his passion for traditional Renaissance music evolved, leading to the formation of the project that has consumed both of them in recent years, Blackmore's Night.

Professionally pieced together, "The Ritchie Blackmore Story" takes us inside the making of such landmark records as Deep Purple In RockMachine Head and Burn from Blackmore's point of view, and with frankness and soul-baring honesty, he talks of the lineup changes in Deep Purple and why he left the band on multiple occasions. Discussions with Glenn Hughes, Roger Glover and David Coverdale flesh out what happened behind the scenes, adding more meat on the bone.

What emerges from the video biography from Eagle Rock Entertainment is a revealing and in-depth portrait of a restlessly creative, if curmudgeonly and downright prickly but occasionally funny, artist who's authored a slew of original and memorable guitar riffs and rained down torrents of lightning-fast, yet tasteful and classically inspired, soloing like an angry god. Tributes and insightful commentary on Blackmore's brilliance come pouring out of admirers such as Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson, Queen's Brian May, Metallica's Lars Ulrich, Joe Satriani, Gene Simmons of KISS and Toto's Steve Lukather – to name a few – and their observations are sincere and thoughtful, with some making him out to be a caucasian Jimi Hendrix. And there's 40 minutes of additional interview material tacked on to the DVD, packaged with informative and well-written liner notes and great vintage photos.

The best stuff, though, comes straight from Blackmore's mouth. In a series of casual interviews over beers, Blackmore pulls no punches, talking candidly about his temper, his belief in ghosts and dalliances with the supernatural, and his stormy relationship with Ian Gillan – including recollections of a restaurant fight that ended with him throwing a plate of pasta into the singer's face after Gillan had doused it in ketchup, as bandmates cringed.

In the end, however, what matters most is the music, and an abundance of sensational vintage live footage from various periods in his career speaks to his wild, unpredictable showmanship, boundless creativity and incredible talent. Segments of performances of such classic material as "Highway Star," "Smoke on the Water," "Black Night," "Mistreated" and "Long Live Rock 'n' Roll," among other favorites, are strewn throughout the film, and much is made of Blackmore's explosive meltdown at the infamous 1974 California Jam event. All of it is tightly edited so that the movie doesn't come off as some hastily thrown together patchwork. Ever the perfectionist, Blackmore would undoubtedly be livid if it had.

As it is, its contents comprise an essential dossier of Blackmore's life and career to anyone with even a passing interest in him, his bands and rock history in general.
– Peter Lindblad

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