Tuesday, October 28, 2008

In Search Of ..

Don't you just hate it? It's the 21st friggin' century, and amidst all this cutting edge technology all around us, one measly album release ISN'T available in CD format? Unbelievable yet true. You'll be surprised by the amount of catalog album releases that are NOT (yet) available on CD. Only the savvy Japanese record label people seem to know how much good music there is from our rich past, and the need to release them onto the music world. Here's one I am definitely in search of.. Monsters Of Rock Live At Castle Donington.

Released in 1980, Monsters Of Rock Live At Castle Donington is a various artist affair, featuring a virtual who's-who of old school Heavy Metal. Promoter Paul Loadsby planned a day-long summer festival dedicated specifically to bands from within the heavy rock and metal genre. As he had been promoting the recent Rainbow UK tour, he asked the band to headline, to which they agreed.

The venue chosen for the event was the Donington Park motor racing circuit at Castle Donington, Leicestershire. Capable of holding up to 100,000 fans, it was near to the industrial Midlands and had easy access to major transport links. Early preparations were delayed after objections from locals and police but the festival organisation had addressed fears the event was scheduled for Saturday August 16, 1980.

The rest of the bill meantime was assembled as a balanced mix of British and international hard rock. A quadraphonic sound system was installed. Parallel to a Judas Priest sound-check days before the event a test of Cozy Powell’s pyrotechnics resulted in an explosion heard some three miles away, that blew out all the P.A. and caused £18,000 worth of damage to the stage set-up.

Ticket prices were £7.50 in advance. Though torrential rain over the preceding week had turned the site into a quagmire the day itself dawned bright, hot and sunny. The P.A. system only seemed to work well for those few thousand crammed down the front of the stage but, minor criticisms apart, the occasion was deemed an overwhelming success. From the organiser’s point of view they had lost money but had proved the principle sufficiently to have the confidence to organise a festival for following years.

Within a few years it became the annual event for the UK hard rock fraternity, superseding the rival Reading Festival. The event was destined to become a British music tradition for over a decade, and was eventually extended to include a list of dates through mainland Europe as well. Said Paul Loadsby: "It was a great day, the show Rainbow put on is still one of the best headlining performances at Donny...the first of its kind and a terrible risk."

Attendance at the first festival in 1980 was 35,000.

The album was released shortly after the event. Though Judas Priest were part of the bill, they were not included on the album. The lineup consisted of Rainbow, Scorpions, April Wine, Saxon, Riot and Touch.

It was reported that a member of Touch swallowed a bee while performing onstage. The whole event was recorded, with the exception of Judas Priest. The album was released consisting of two songs each by Rainbow ("Stargazer" and "All Night Long") and Scorpions ("Loving You Sunday Morning" and "Another Piece Of Meat") and one from April Wine ("I Like To Rock"), Saxon ("Backs To The Wall"), Riot ("Road Racing") and Touch ("Don't You Know What Love Is"). The cassette version had a slightly longer running time and added a third Scorpions track. Part of the Rainbow performance was filmed and shown on UK television in the Midlands broadcasting area (the locale of the festival). This album also marked Cozy Powell's last appearance with Rainbow. They also performed "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow," the Carole King/Shirelles song (intended to be their next single) live, though never released.

As of this writing, the album, only available in Vinyl, has yet to see the light of digital day.


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