Ritchie Blackmore and Candice Night have expanded the family business a bit for To The Moon And Back: 20 Years And Beyond…, the new compilation by their Renaissance group Blackmore’s Night.
The English traditional “Ghost Of John,” one of three new songs recorded for the two-disc set and premiering exclusively below, ends with a guest vocal by the couple’s six-year-old daughter Autumn — who’s actually responsible for it being recorded in the first place.
“She came home from school one day and she was singing it, and I thought, ‘What a great melody,'” Blackmore tells Billboard. “We actually got it from her, and that’s why you’ll hear her on the record at the end, signing it how she originally sang it to us. It’s a very strange song; When you’re talking about skeletons with no skin on, of course, it gets a reaction — usually a kind of a bad reaction. But, y’know, emotions are important in songs.”
Blackmore and Night spent time researching the song’s history and took some liberties to create a Blackmore’s Night version of the song, changing the time signature and arranging it in more of a drone pattern than the intricate chord changes in the traditional version. “There was nowhere to take a breath for the poor singer,” Blackmore notes. Autumn, meanwhile, offered her own interpretations of the song during the recording sessions.
“We put her on the microphone and the first take she did was this very big sort of Broadway style and she was belting the whole thing out and we were like, ‘No, no, no. Just be you,'” Night remembers with a laugh. “So the next one she did with all these Mariah Carey flares to it, and we said, ‘No, no, no, don’t do that either.’ And finally she said, ‘OK, this’ll be the simplest take I’m gonna do’ and she just did it and it was perfect and we got goosebumps immediately and it was exactly what we were looking for to bring it back to the starting point of what the song was. So it was a perfect moment.”
The rest of To The Moon And Back captures the unlikely journey of Blackmore’s Night, from the raised eyebrows of Blackmore’s Deep Purple and Rainbow following through 10 albums. The set includes a disc of favorites chosen via an Internet poll of fans, plus a selection of re-recorded songs, a new take on “Pomp And Circumstance March No. 1” titled “Land Of Hope And Glory” and a cover of Rainbow’s “I Surrender.” “It’s been very pleasurable,” Blackmore says of the couple’s Renaissance run. “Trying to pioneer that type of music is always rewarding. I love that type of music. I don’t know anybody else that’s doing it, really. It doesn’t feel very long at all for me. I can’t believe it’s been 20 years. And it’s weird how it did take off. I think if the public sees that you love something so much, they go along with it. One of the quotes we have from one of our fans was ‘I don’t like Renaissance music but I love your version of Renaissance music,’ so that was a big compliment.”
Blackmore’s Night has more coming this year as well — an expanded version of its 2006 Winter Carols with a selection of new songs the group has recorded for it. Blackmore, meanwhile, is also weighing how to balance Rainbow, which he reactivated last year, with Blackmore’s Night. Rainbow released a pair of new songs earlier this year and has a third in the can, and the guitarist says a new album is possible as well, lining up some shows by the band in North America.
“It’s confusing,” acknowledges Blackmore, who was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with Deep Purple in 2016 but declined to attend the ceremony. “The Rainbow thing was a bit of fun that I do every now and again just so I can kind of blast out on the Stratocaster. I knew there were a lot of fans that wanted to hear the old Rainbow songs, so I put it back out there. But I still prefer the music of Blackmore’s NIght because it’s so far-reaching and the spectrum of musical stuff is so much more vast than being in a rock band. It’s music that has always excited me.”