Fires at Midnight

Fires at Midnight

Blackmore's Night--Ritchie Blackmore contributes guitar, hurdy-gurdy and mandolin whilst his honey-voiced wife Candice Night weighs in with lead vocals, bagpipes, shawm, harp and recorder--are something of a soft-rock / folk / medieval confection. Their brief on <I>Fires at Midnight</I> even stretches to fusing Capercaillie-style Scottish ballads with Japanese influences (the nod to the Shinto Goddess of Happiness on "Benza-Ten"), pinching the tune of Jeremiah Clarke's Trumpet Voluntary (" Waiting For You") and backdating Bob Dylan ("The Times They Are Changing") in a manner which is more akin to William Byrd than The Byrds. Blackmore clearly knows his stuff--his take on Michael Praetorious' baroque dance "Courante" is a treasure--whilst elsewhere "Crowning of the King" is worthy of mid-period Steeleye Span and the windswept "I Still Remember" is an improbably brilliant conflation of Rainbow and Sandy Denny's Fotheringay. Medieval purists are probably better off pointing their cheque books in the direction of anything by Maddy Prior and The Carnival Band but, nevertheless, Blackmore's Night are onto something intriguingly different and uniquely their own. <I>--Kevin Maidment</I>