Rainbow – Down To Earth (1979)

Rainbow - Down To Earth

Rainbow – Down To Earth (1979, Polydor)

  1. All Night Long
  2. Eyes Of The World
  3. No Time To Lose
  4. Makin’ Love
  5. Since You Been Gone
  6. Love’s No Friend
  7. Danger Zone
  8. Lost In Hollywood

Total Time – 36:39

Band Lineup:
Graham Bonnet – Vocals
Ritchie Blackmore – Guitar
Roger Glover – Bass
Don Airey – Keyboards
Cozy Powell – Drums

Ritchie Blackmore official website
Graham Bonnet official website

Let’s kick off Graham Bonnet Week with my favorite Rainbow album, and Graham Bonnet’s only Rainbow album, Down To Earth.

After gaining critical acclaim and a strong fanbase, Ritchie Blackmore set his sights on the U.S. charts. Ronnie James Dio (vocals) left the band due to a difference of opinion on the new commercial route Blackmore was steering the Rainbow ship. As Dio went on to front Black Sabbath, Blackmore enlisted former Marbles singer, and solo artist, Graham Bonnet, to be the voice of a more “radio friendly” Rainbow. This would be Bonnet’s first big Rock gig of many to come.

Down To Earth is the transitional Rainbow album, bridging the medieval Dio era to the chart successes of the Joe Lynn Turner era. By the time Bonnet joined the band, the material was already written by Blackmore and bassist Roger Glover, all he had to do was lay down the vocals. What you get is a mix of two styles: the trademark Progressive/Hard Rock music with lush guitar and grand keyboards and more pop oriented lyrics. The lyrics of love won and love lost were major departures from Dio’s tales of castles, dragons, and rainbows. This change gave the band it’s first taste of the U.S. charts with singles All Night Long and the Russ Ballard penned Since You Been Gone. Throughout the album, Graham delivers a memorable vocal performance, a blend of pure power and pop sensibility.

I’m a fan of all Rainbow eras but this album is my favorite because of Graham Bonnet’s vocals and the mixing of styles. Graham’s vocals just jump from the speakers, he belts out his range of vocal power with seemingly little effort. Obviously, the big hit, Since You Been Gone, is catchy as hell. Same with All Night Long. Looking beyond the singles, Eyes Of The World is the mysterious blend of Dio era music with pop lyrics, Lost In Hollywood is straight up Hard Rock, and Love’s No Friend is the moody power ballad. I like the album as a whole, every song a favorite, can’t find a weak link. The “lost” Rainbow album is one of the best Rainbow albums.

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12 comments on “Rainbow – Down To Earth (1979)

  1. Graham Bonnet is a good singer and this was a great band line-up, but I had trouble swallowing the more pop approach. I always prefered Dio-era Rainbow, but I prefer Bonnet to Joe Lynn Turner by just a little. All three Rainbow singers had great voices though.

  2. The transition from the Dio-era to the Pop stylings of Bonnet and Turner is so abrupt that it’s like listening to a totally different band.

    The Rainbow albums with Dio, especially Rising, are instant classics. When the change in musical philosophy came, it was almost refreshing because the band was taking a big chance. The fanbase was built around the mysticism and magic and then you change things all of a sudden to singing about love lost and getting chicks. It worked though because the Bonnet and Turner albums are strong as well. Blackmore has had the fortune of working with 4 great singers: Dio, Bonnet, Turner, & Doogie White.

  3. I have to say Long Live Rock ‘N’ Roll was by far my favorite Rainbow studio album (the live album with its awesome version of Catch The Rainbow and the Purple classis Mistreated is my overall favorite.) That album was the culmination of the Dio/Blackmore songwriting collaboration for me, the songs were polished and intense without being too slick and they just really hit home for me at the time. Of course, at that time Blackmore was God to me and my playing style incorporated a lot elements of his. But I can still go back and listen to every song on that album from start to finish without skipping any that aren’t moving me….as good as Rising was, I can’t say the same for that one. Down To Earth was ok, but I still cringe when I hear Since You’ve Been Gone….it definitely wasn’t the best track on the album. But then, I guess the singles usually aren’t…

  4. Dale – Good to have you here! Many people fall into either the Dio camp or the JLT camp. I’m a huge Bonnet fan so this is my favorite. RISING is a very close second. I really like all the Rainbow eras, they all have something unique yet similar about them. Truly a great band and sadly missed.

  5. Pingback: More on Graham Bonnet Week « Heavy Metal Addiction

  6. They say ‘you always remember your first’ and seeing Rainbow with Bonnet at Newcastle City Hall was my first concert and as far as sheer vocal power goes I’ve never heard it beaten. Apart from the rambling keyboard solo’s it just blew me away and as I type this I’m listening to Down to Earth and the memories come flooding back – just wish my hair would! Lost in Hollywood was and is the standout track for me.

    • Hi Veitch i also first saw Rainbow in concert at Newcastle City hall feb 1980 I was there on the night of so called ”terrible performance”according to the late great Cozy Powell on 19th feb.I actually thought it was a very good show.If there is any crititism from my part ”Since you been gone” was not played that night,the show was very short,and was the only Rainbow concert i attended out of 4 that Blackmore never trashed his guitar.I can still recall 30 years later one of Graham Bonnets silly comments that night,i will quote him”who’s been on the Newcastle brown ale then?is it you or is it Rainbow?”.It is the daft thing Ian Gillan sometimes utters on stage lol.Down to earth will probably remain my favourite album,posibbly on account like you it was my 1st line up i saw on the concert stage.As a young man of 19 i was never that struck on the hit single ”Since you been gone” ,but i like it a lot more now in my middle age”eyes of the world”will always remain one of my favourite rock songs period.As a Rainbow song it is up there with ”Stargazer”,kill the king”,”Man on the silver mountain”,”Gates of Babylon”etc.”All night long”,will always be a fantastic song,but sadly it has became like ”Smoke on the water”,ie played to death so many times over the years.A music journalist once compared Bonnets tenure with Rainbow like George Lazenby making just one James Bond film following Connery,then being replaced by Roger Moore.Lazenby made arguably the best Bond film[On her Magesty’s secret service].But the other 2 made more so he is somewhat forgotten about.Bonnet made one really good album with Rainbow,however the late Ronnie James Dio who preceded him and Turner who followed Graham recorded 3 studio albums each compared to Bonnets one.IMO Ronnie Dio is the finest rock vocalists ever,my one regret i never saw him perform on stage with Rainbow.It is a shame his sad death this year was hardly covered by the UK media outlets.Despite this his legacy in hard rock MUSIC history is assured.Dio,Bonnet and Turner had different styles of singing,Dio had an operatic voice,he could really sing soaring vocals [very much like Iron Maiden’s Bruce Dickinson]Bonnet was able to sing across 3 octaves,listen to the notes he reaches in the chorus of ”all night long”.Turner is typical of the American singers of the time,very MOTR,he does indeed sound like Lou Gramm of Foriegner.I like Turner [despite his crap wig!!]but he is my least favourite Rainbow singer of the 3 mentioned.DOWN TO EARTH had a line up that was good for at least 1 more album,sadly it was not meant to be.

  7. VERY UNFORTUNATELY – most rock fans remember RJ Dio as the vocalist for Black Sabbath – HOWEVER – I dare anyone to tell me that his RAINBOW days were any less dramatic or impressive. As a matter of fact – anyone who really knows music would probably agree that the early RAINBOW, musically, was a better band than Black Sabbath. Dio was a true wizard. Blackmore was GOD on guitar, Glover was a solid root of steadiness, and COZY POWELL was arguably the best double bass drummer EVER!! CP literally beat the “s__t” out of his huge Yamaha drum set – no one else ever came close! Shear POWER! For those who don’t know what I’m referring to – they missed it and therefore, will never get it – they were truly an amazingly talented and powerful band – the album On Stage was great, but, in person they were even better!!

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  9. i must agree. this is my favorite rainbow record. the main reason is graham bonnet’s scorching vocals. not a bad tune on this disc… cozy powell is smokin’ (r.i.p. sir) and the rest of the band were in their prime. never cared much for dio era rainbow… deep purple was much more interesting to me. hated the live sabbath/dio album over ozzy’s speak of the devil kicked it’s ass.

    this record is part of my collection, graham bonnet is one of my all time favorite vocalists.

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