Blackmore's Night - Past Times With Good Company

Year of Release: 2002
Label: SPV/Steamhammer
Catalog Number: 095-74492
Format: CD
Total Time: 94:25:00

Before you go any further, look at the Style heading above: this is FOLK ROCK. There. If that wasn't enough to make you metalheads immediately skip to the next review, then pray read on, milords and sweet ladies.

Blackmore's Night is named for its two core artists, Ritchie Blackmore (better known as the guitarist from Deep Purple and Rainbow) and his partner, the angelic-voiced Candice Night. Deep Purple / Rainbow fans beware; don't pick this up without being aware just of how utterly and completely different Blackmore's Night is from Ritchie's earlier material. He has left his rocker days behind him, now concentrating on one of his totally different passions - renaissance culture - and his music has undergone a huge change.

As is characteristic of folk music, Past Times With Good Company contains simple lyrics and relatively simple, light-hearted tunes. Some of these are arrangements of traditional music - the title track was apparently written in the 1600s by King Henry VIII - others are material from the band, and some are soft-reprises of songs from his past. Though the electric guitar does make scattered appearances (listen for the rearrangement of the Rainbow number "16th Century Greensleeves"), Ritchie plays mostly acoustic on this album, and has numerous other instruments credited to his name (mandolin, mandola, hurdy gurdy and renaissance drums). Candice, who bizarrely reminds me of Olivia Newton-John (in sound, not in musical style!), supplies the vocals, as well as playing the shawm, cornamuse and rauschpfeife (baroque woodwind instruments), tambourine, and pennywhistle. Also appearing are Carmine Giglio (keyboards and backing vocals), Chris Devine (a goddamn awesome violinist, also plays recorder and mandolin), Kevin Dunne (guest drums), "Robert Of Normandie" (bass, rhythm guitar and backing vocals), "Lady Rraine" (backing vocals) and "Malcolm Of Lumley" (main drums).

The main attraction in this group for me lies in the fact that it is very well-done mediaeval music. If you don't like mediaeval music, this will hold no attraction for you whatsoever, but I personally very much enjoy them. The baroque instrumentation is one which definitely appeals to me; I particularly admire the violinist, whose best performance is on "Morning Star" (as a violinist myself, including orchestral strings on any album is a surefire way to make me sit up and take notice). Ritchie shows that he certainly still has the guitar skills, with numerous complex instrumental passages that are flawlessly executed. Right now I'm listening to "Minstrel Hall," which is probably the best example of this. I also enjoyed "Writing On The Wall," which borrows its theme from the famous "Moderato" in Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake.

All in all, if I were giving this album a rating only from my personal point of view, I'd give it more stars than I have. However, as a prog/power metal reviewer, I'm aware that Past Times With Good Company doesn't fit into this genre, and has mostly been included here because of Ritchie Blackmore's history within the metal scene. Thus it scores just the two stars, not because I think it is a substandard album, but because I know most people reading this site [ProgPower Online, that is] will need to have a good listen before they even think of buying it.

[Of course, now that this review has a new home at PW, it fits right in; see also Keith's review. This review originally appeared July 2003 at the ProgPower Online site -ed.]

Disc One: Shadow Of The Moon / Play Minstrel Play / Minstrel Hall / Past Times With Good Company / Fire At Midnight / Under A Violet Moon / Soldier Of Fortune

Disc Two: 16th Century Greensleeves / Beyond The Sunset / Morning Star / Home Again / Renaissance Faire / I Still Remember / Durch Den Wald Zum Bachhaus / Writing On The Wall

Ritchie Blackmore - electric and acoustic guitar, mandolin, mandola, hurdy gurdy, Renaissance drum
Candice Night - vocals, shawn, raushpfeife, tambourine, pennywhistle, cornamuse
Robert of Normandie - bass, rhythm guitar, harmony vocals
Carmine Giglio - keyboards, harmony vocals
Malcom of Lumley -drums
Kevin Dunne - drums (2:1)
Lorraine Ferro (Lady Rraine) - harmony vocals
Chris Devine - violin, recorder, mandolin

Shadow Of The Moon (1998)
Under A Violet Moon (1999)
Minstrels & Ballads (2001)
Fires At Midnight (2001)
Past Times With Good Company (2002/2003)
Ghost Of A Rose (2003)
Home Again (2003)
Beyond The Sunset (2005) (CD/DVD)
The Village Lanterne (Special Limited Edition) (2006)
Winter Carols (2006)
Paris Moon (2007)
Secret Voyage (2008)
Autumn Sky (2010)
A Knight In York (2012)

Castles & Dreams (DVD) (2005)
A Knight In York (DVD) (2012)

Genre: Progressive Folk

Origin UK

Added: December 10th 2004
Reviewer: Karyn Hamilton
Artist website:
Hits: 1638
Language: english


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