Blackmore's Night
Secret Voyage

3.5 out of 5 stars
Reviewed for Coffeerooms by Mike Jefferson


This collection of squires, knaves, and wenches never ceases to amaze me. On paper, a guitarist who's eschewed a profitable and high profile career -- first as Deep Purple's axe man, then as the leader of his own self-titled band -- for the privilege of wearing tights and playing Medieval mandolin seems intent on flushing ye olde career down the royal commode. Yet Squire Ritchie Blackmore has embraced a combination of Renaissance music, traditional English folk, mainstream rock, fantasy fretwork and made Medieval magic. Much of the credit is due to the oh so saucy, photogenic, Candice Night, whose silken voice makes her sound as if she lived a previous life as a fairytale princess. For "Secret Voyage," the band's seventh studio album, Candice and Ritchie are assisted by Bard David of Larchmont (keyboards, vocals), Earl Grey of Chimay (bass, guitar, vocals), Squire Malcolm of Lumley (Joan Lumley? Fabulous! No, Malcolm's the percussionist, and no relation), and Gypsy Rose (not the stripper; she's the group's violinist and back up singer).

Your secret voyage begins with the instrumental "God Save the Keg." Frat boys and sorority girls will immediately be attracted the title. It starts out with a refined harpsichord run and a forest of woodwind instruments combining with the regal strength of a full orchestra abetted by a chorus of operatic singers, making "God Save the Keg" sound like the arrival of King Arthur to his court rather than Bluto Blutarsky protecting his cherished tin of suds. It ends with a dramatic Keith Emerson styled cathedral organ solo and a chorus of flagellating monks as threatening as Torquemada overseeing the Spanish Inquisition. The irreverent title is very misleading (and wrong) for such serious stuff, and you can barely hear Blackmore's guitar though the mist of orchestration, but "God Save the Keg" mixes a lot of styles -- classical, medieval, rock, folk and Gregorian chants, and does so in an impressive and mesmerizing fashion.


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