I first started listening to Rainbow during the 'Down to Earth' era, when Graham Bonnet was strutting his not inconsiderable stuff as lead singer. Back then - I was fifteen - it seemed great. Now - I'm older - you can see just what a catastrophe Ronnie James Dio leaving the band was.
The first three studio albums are just brilliant. Musically very impressive and lyrically superb. It's easy to sneer at the fantasy/mythology elements of heavy rock of the Seventies, but there's still a massive market for this sort of thing, just look at the Lord of the Rings cycle. 'Stargazer' manages to get a whole fantasy novel into eight minutes (including a guitar solo) and it creates a universe, two compelling characters and makes real, allegorical statements about purpose, ambition and freedom. It stands up - lyrically - far better than the Led Zep stuff of the same era (or Rush).
I also love the fact Dio works 'Rainbow' into the lyrics 'Fly Like a Rainbow' ??? You know, like you do. The musical subtlety of these early tracks is also impressive like in 'Gates of Babylon'
Then Dio leaves and you get 'All Night Long' ('I need a girl who can keep her head - All Night Long - naturally changed when sung live) and 'Since You Been Gone' (Since You Been Gone, Since You Been Gone, I'm out of my head, can't take it.) Fine when you're a teenager.
Musically things go from bad to worse when Bonnet leaves and Joe Lynn Turner comes in, by which time Rainbow are an ok, American-type AOR band. Like Bon Jovi. Certainly not worth remembering.
So why five stars? Because of those early tracks. Buy this. Give it to someone (my ten year old daughter's getting mine) and then buy the first three albums and enjoy......