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On the love of borscht

burrn may 2018 cover

May 2018 issue of Burrn! magazine carries an exclusive 12-page interview with Ritchie Blackmore, conducted by editor-in-chief Kaz Hirose. Below are a few of the more interesting tidbits translated back into English courtesy of our Japanese correspondent Akemi Ono.

On coming to Japan:

Burrn!: This year Rainbow is doing shows in places where you have not played before, Russia, Finland, Czechoslovakia. You wish to play where you have not done the new Rainbow line-up?
Ritchie: Well, I don’t like to travel, but I have been to Russia before, and I like borscht, the famous Russian soup.

B: What about Japan?
R: I thought about it when Mr. Udo invited us, but it’s too far. I don’t like flying long distances.

B: How about via Hawaii or California?
R: I’ve lived in California for about 3 years, I didn’t like living in Hollywood. Everyone is a rock star or a movie star and seeing a psychiatrist.

B: Japan really wants you to come.
R: Yes, I understand. If I go, it will be through Mr. Udo. I have known him for a very long time — about 200 years probably.

Ritchie’s comments on the tunes played by the current line-up:

Spotlight Kid: First I thought this was a meaningless song, just being played up-tempo. So I asked Don Airey whether he thought there was anything good about this tune. Don answered that since we have it, we should nurture it. Later on I took a liking for it.
I Surrender: This is a very difficult tune, especially since we have changed the key from G to F#. I need to concentrate very much.
Mistreated: I like to play this tune. David Coverdale did a great interpretation.
Man on the Silver Mountain: I also like to play this tune, but none of us know what this title really means. Only Ronnie James Dio knows. People tend to read into song titles. Like Speed King. When Deep Purple played in the US, people thought it was about drugs, but it was only about driving fast.
Soldier of Fortune: I requested this as I wanted to play the acoustic guitar. This is a great song. David wrote the first half and I wrote the second half. He wrote the first half on the piano and said he did not know where to go with it, so I made suggestions. It is nice to write and arrange a song 50/50.
Child in Time: One of my favorites, although we did not play in Deep Purple so much as Ian Gillan did not want do it on stage very frequently.
Long Live Rock’n Roll: This was a rare case where I was involved in writing the lyrics. I told Ronnie that the riff sounded like “Long Live Rock’n Roll” to me. I told him he could change it, but we ended up staying with it.
Smoke on the Water: Once I asked Ian Anderson which tune he does not enjoy playing, and he said “Aqualung”, since if he does not play it, everyone wants to hear it. Smoke on the Water is a tune everyone expects me to play, but fortunately it is a good song.

On tunes that have not been played:

Kill the King: I’m probably not playing it since it sounds too much like Spotlight Kid. If there is one song that we have not played and we may, it’s Self Portrait.
Gates of Babylon: It’s difficult to play the riffs. There is a lot of editing in the recording, and it’s difficult to play live.

Other questions:

B: Would you like to record a whole album with the current line-up?
R: There is a possibility, but I do not want to make an album with only re-makes of old tunes. Maybe something like 2 new songs, and 2 previous songs. That could be an idea.

B: Which are your favorite Rainbow tunes? I think Street of Dreams is unique and a great Rainbow song.
R: Yes, that is definitely one of my favorites. Joe did a great version. That may be one of the ideas to work on, or maybe not.

B: Do you still make songs with Candice?
R: Not really. We were too busy in the past, so we are taking some time off. She is also busy with the children.

B: Will you do shows in the US?
R: Probably not, although there were some ideas going around. If we do, probably one or two shows only. And not in California.

B: NY?
R: NY or Connecticut, if we ever get around to it.

22 Comments to “On the love of borscht”:

  1. 1
    Ffaer says:

    Just a hint for Ritchie: borscht is a Ukrainian meal, it’s not even a soup, really.
    Been to Moscow concert: the stuff the dreams are made of, thanks Mr. Forever Rockstar!

  2. 2
    byron says:

    Intersting words..but the Russian show looks like a huge disaster.Ritchie’s sometimes playing like a beginner and is unable to play his main riffs properly..unbelievable and so sad.And that pub band still sucks.Watch the Don Airey band playing Purple and Rainbow song for something different..

  3. 3
    Kevin Kober says:

    Almost conciliatory in his old age. Good.

  4. 4
    Mathias says:

    …”Watch the Don Airey band playing Purple and Rainbow song for something different..”

    That is absolutely true, if you want to see/listen some Rainbow songs on a respectful quality level that they deserve than look out for the Don Airey & friends shows!!
    And as a bonus you get some wonderful Gray Moore, Colosseum II and of course original Don Airey tunes. For my taste they could skip the Purple songs, as there’s still a touring DP around …

  5. 5
    Ivica says:

    “Child in Time” .. For me, the best song of DP, special song, excellent song. I can not listen to another singer, that’s strange !, only Ian Gillan sings. Also a play guitar, guitar solo, only Ritchie,other songs DP can be playing and singing but “CIT” can not, just original MK II. DP not play 20 years and that’s OK, it would be better if Ritchie did not perform his Rainbow plays original arrangement,this is 2018 !. Last the top performance “Child in Time” plays on “Come Hell or High Water”

  6. 6
    RB fan says:

    Being Russian and not contesting the Ukrainian exclusive rights on borscht :-), I must say that for a usual foreigner a Russian culture and Ukrainian culture is somewhere around the same, so do not demand too much from Ritchie

  7. 7
    Adel says:

    One day one glorious day, Ritchie will open his heart and fill it with the love of his fans.
    The guy hasn’t got a clue on how to get excited and enjoy playing for his loving fans. He doesn’t want to travel to Japan as its to far, seriously the guy has no respect for the love of his fans.
    I recall Roger Glover saying in one of his interviews ‘I will play live and not get paid as long as I get invited on a stage’ Now that’s a class act from a true musician.

  8. 8
    Blackwood Richmore says:

    JLT is in hospital having suffered a myocardial infarction (heart attack). GET WELL JOE…. we’ll pray for your speedy recovery.

  9. 9
    Jet Auto Jerry says:

    It is a damn shame that Mr. B. apparently did not like the people that he knew in Southern California when he lived here so the rest of us will have to miss out on seeing him. Well, at least the normal folk that can’t afford to travel to places for a Rock Show. I was holding out hope that he would play an L.A. show but it seems like that is out the door. Bummer. I only got to see them on the Bent Out of Shape tour and those memories are a bit fuzzy. That being said, I did just get the Memories in Rock II and so I will just have to enjoy what might have been.

  10. 10
    Tommy H. says:

    Czechoslovakia split into the Czech Republic and the Slovak Republik in 1993, so 25 years ago.

    Mistreated was co-written by David Coverdale. Other singers are interpreters, whereas he’s the original performer.

    The Child in Time-bit, although to be taken tongue-in cheek, is still kind of ridiculous since Gillan sang that song throughout the second half of 1969 till his departure from the band in 1973. That’s when the song was played properly by Ritchie himself and when it was relevant to play it. There’s even an interpretation of the Gillan Band. Later on during the reunion days of Deep Purple Ian was already about 40 years old and that song’s tune might be ok for (a few) younger vocalists. But the older you get, the tougher it is to hit those high notes if you’re even able to sing that song in the first place. I’ve never heard a second vocalist who played with Ritchie doing that song justice. Somehow, he still acts as if everybody could sing that song. Ian changed as a vocalist but so did Ritchie as a guitar player. Richtie couldn’t touch the great flow he had in the early days during the reunion days and later on.

  11. 11
    Don Hammontree says:

    Kind of curious about the comments about songwriting with Candice. Is that the end of Blackmore’s Night, then? Hmmmmm …

  12. 12
    Blackwood Richmore says:

    Perhaps the next Blackmore’s Night album may well be called “Rainbow Moon”…..

  13. 13
    DeeperPurps says:

    Unfortunately it would seem that Ritchie is still his same moody, cantankerous self.

    The other night in Helsinki, Finland he was apparently unhappy about something and decided not to do the encore of Burn and Smoke on the Water. The fans were left wondering for about 10 minutes if Ritchie and the band would return to the stage. The lights came back on and that was it No encore. No signature song for the paying crowd.

    Certainly not a way to endear oneself to one’s fans. Not at all professional.

  14. 14
    oliver pasch says:

    Richtie couldn’t touch the great flow he had in the early days during the reunion days and later on.
    April 16th, 2018 at 17:13

    1972 he would be unable to play that famous live version of anya in 1993 , the live 1998 solo of shadow
    of the moon , the recent parts of burn ……………… listen first ………….

  15. 15
    Tommy H. says:

    @ #14, oliver pasch:

    Well, that’s exactly what I said: Ritchie has changed as a guitar player. I don’t have to “listen first”, I already did, very carefully I’d say. My comment was on Ritchie always bashing Gillan for not being able to sing Child in Time at every gig. If you take something out of context then it won’t make too much sense in many cases. You know, what I like most about Ritchie is his Big Jim Sullivan influence. That one and his classical guitar lessons made him play tunes like Wring that Neck or the solo in Child in Time back in the day (apart from some other usual suspects).

  16. 16
    George Hyland says:

    I love Purple and the entire Purple family…. great legacy. But, Ritchie is selfish and downright strange. Too bad because he wrote so many great songs. I would rather hear Doug Aldrich do a bumch of Rainbow, Purple and Whitesnake covers because he respects the fans and the legacy. It also seems that Don Aires and Steve Morse feel the same way. They are the true professionals.

    Ritchie was great, but just too full of himself. Jeff Beck is the same age and puts on a great show because he cares. Same with John McLaughlin. Attitude matters!

  17. 17
    Ron says:

    @13, you left out some key points and got some wrong. He did do Burn. There are videos all over YouTube. He also played 14 songs . He added Sixteenrh Cenrury Greemsleves which was not played in Moscow. He dropped Smoke and Black NIGHT.

    As for his playing, it is clearly not what it was. Watching his interviews shows he’s simply an old man now. The guy is over 70. Though he has young children, he’s more like a grandpa. He also stopped playing rock in the 90s and it shows. He stopped listening to it most likely well before that. It shows. His guitar tone could be better. He’s playing a long discontinued Engl combo which just comes up short and not his signature Engl head which breathes fire. I know, I have one. His sound is close but a bit restrained. His licks are old.

    The purple thing we all love is ending very soon. My advise to those going to the shows is to enjoy seeing blackmore maybe for last time and enjoy it for what it is. You will get a glimpse or two of the genius he was, hear some great tunes, but you won’t see the virtuoso guitar god all night long. Only fleeting moments.

  18. 18
    DeeperPurps says:

    Ron @ 17. Yes I realized that error re Burn instead of Black Night after posting my comment. I should have done a better proof read before submitting.

    In any case, it seems very small of Ritchie not to have come back out for an encore of BN & SOTW, and instead chose to leave the Helsinki fans dangling for 10 minutes before the lights came back, truly marking the show’s unsatisfactory end.

    I know on occasion Ritchie would omit to do encores way back in time – one example being Mark II reunion Purple’s Vancouver concert in 1985. Fans were rightly very ticked off that he would not come out to play SOTW. But here we are 33 years later and time seems not to have mellowed Ritchie, he unfortunately still chooses to behave poorly at times.

    I agree with you that Ritchie is not the player he once was. Age and the BN style of music has changed his playing technique. His recent Rainbow concerts do on occasion show some vestiges of his past virtuosity, but for the most part, his playing is no longer what it was. That’s ok, I am sure most Blackmore fans are forgiving of that as time waits for no one.

  19. 19
    Bob Daniels says:

    Just from watching some of the YouTube clips of the recent Rainbow tour, Ritchie’s playing on Mistreated alone was well worth the price of admission. Ad to that a great singer, good band, and Ritchie’s overall sense of melody.

    Different strokes for different folks, but I’d take one of Ritchie’s melodic bottle neck solos any day, over any of the wanker scale-mongers out there.

    Judging from the fans reactions in these videos, they seem a lot happier and enjoying the show, whereas most of us internet geeks seem to complain about it. On one hand there’s fans buying the ticket and enjoying the show, but then there’s us internet geeks with our criticisms sitting at home

  20. 20
    George Hyland says:

    I agree with you Bob. My criticism is not so much about the 2018 tour. I am just making a point about Blackmore’s overall attitude through the years. Obviously, he can do whatever he wants. I am still a huge fan….. I just wish he came across a little differently. Also, what is up with Jens Johansson? He used to be such a force!!
    Purple’s ‘74 tour and Rainbow Rising were Blackmore’s high water mark for me personally. Eyes of the World is also awesome. After that, something was different.

  21. 21
    Woody Tobias Jr. says:

    Tommy H # 15:

    Right On.

    His struts, like in the many great live versions of ‘Wring that Neck’ & Child in Time and early ‘Lazy’, and blues like in Mandrake Root and early Rainbow showed those early influences and blended so well with Blackmore’s own unique style and tone. That stuff is just total heavenly bliss to the discriminating ears.

  22. 22
    Simon Foster says:

    I like this interview because you don’t often hear or read RB saying “I like this song or that” and giving reasons. It’s also nice to read the respect for DC on SoF and Mistreated.
    I was at the O2 gig last year and I agree this is certainly not the Rainbow of 1976-81 but TMIB is over 70 now and most people have retired and unfortunately a fair number have died by that age so we should there thankful for his current renditions. I think the main problem is he has slowed considerably. For many years he was propelled by an almost electric nervous energy – and that has definitely gone. It was that nervous energy that made both his presence and his playing so exciting. If his energy levels hadn’t gone his band would sound better – the other musicians are good enough – it’s just RB is now a shadow of the man he once was.

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