Joe Lynn Turner Brings The Power To Rainbow
by Jody Haskins for The Laguna Spectator
Rainbow’s second album with lead singer Joe Lynn Turner ‘Straight Between The Eyes’. The album was released in 1982 and features Joe Lynn Turner on vocals. Roger Glover (Deep Purple) masterfully handles the production and the Bass, hard pounding Bobbie Rondinelli (Black Sabbath) on Drums, David Rosenthal (Billy Joel & Bruce Springsteen) on organ and of course the legendary man in black, Ritchie Blackmore (Deep Purple) on lead guitar.
As a huge fan of Deep Purple, I remember buying this album at the old Odyssey records the day it came out. At the time, MTV was airing the single ‘Stone Cold’ in heavy rotation. I remember liking it at the time. I am sure I clocked many Atari ‘Space Invaders’ hours listening to it. My main impression at the time and still today is that this is an above average rock and roll album in the tradition of Mach II Deep Purple.
I am not and have never been a Joe Lynn Turner hater. While I prefer Ian Gillan in his prime, Joe Lynn Turner is a much better fit for this album. The style and production are excellent and Ritchie’s guitar playing is suburb as always.
Death Alley Driver
This is a fantastic hard driving rock song with a great solo by Ritchie Blackmore. This song represents one of the strongest vocal performances of Joe Lynn Turner. This track has faced unfair comparison’s to Deep Purple’s ‘Highway Star’. I agree that ‘Highway Star’ is a superior track to ‘Death Alley Driver’, but aren’t most rock songs inferior to ‘Highway Star’?
Bring On The Night (Dream Chaser)
What I refer to as a generic “paint by numbers” Deep Purple song. This could easily have appeared on ‘The Battle Rages On’ or ‘Masters & Slaves’ by Deep Purple. This is an upbeat, bouncy attempt at a pop tune with a killer guitar solo hidden inside. I would advise skipping this track.
Thanks to finally having a lead singer in Joe Lynn Turner who appealed to teen aged girls, Stone Cold received heavy rotation on MTV. This song became the catalyst to propel Rainbow to never before seen heights of commercial popularity. Stone Cold is a rock and roll ballad that is one of the best songs to come out of 1982. There is a beautiful mysterious keyboard and an overall haunting sound that makes this song an instant timeless classic.
Tearing My Heart Out
Straight Between The Eyes takes a slow moody approach to this ballad. Joe Lynn Turner singing in a soft voice about good lovin’ gone bad. A rock and roll band should be careful not to try to have too many ballads on one album. This is not a bad song, but what this album needs is more hard rock and less soft ballads. The Ian Gillan inspired scream at the end of the song is a noble attempt but falls short of Gillan’s best screams from the seventies. Then again, nobody else can hit those notes like Gillan did in the early seventies.
Finally a song that opens with a killer guitar riff followed by some pounding drums and organ music. If this riff happy tune doesn’t get your toes tapping, nothing else will either. A great classic rock song with a strong Purple flavor. Solid chorus and the best drumming on the album. The lyrics are a little shallow and could use some more polishing. One thing is for certain, if you like Deep Purple Mach II, you will enjoy this track.
Plodding, hard rocking song about sex, not that there is anything wrong with that. The guitar tone in this song is very reminiscent of Dio era Rainbow. Once again the lyrics are rather lame but the guitar saves the day.
In an interesting nod to Deep Purple Mach III, Rainbow puts out a song with a title very similar to ‘Mistreated’ by David Coverdale from the Deep Purple ‘Burn’ album. Just as Death Alley Driver resurrected memories of ‘Highway Star’, Miss Mistreated just reminds me how much better the original ‘Mistreated’ was.
In conclusion, I recommend listening and enjoying this album on it’s own merit. ‘Straight Between The Eyes‘ is Rainbow’s most commercially successful album and while it is no ‘Machine Head’, it rocks steady and that should be enough for any classic rock fan.