Heart performs live with an orchestra and it’s great

This week’s Sound Check begins with my thoughts on a modern audio-visual presentation by Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow.

Reviews of a live performance with an orchestra from Heart, and a new studio album of 2017 follow.

‘Memories In Rock — Live In Germany,’ Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow (Eagle Rock Entertainment, 1/2)

This package (DVD+2 CD, Blu-Ray + 2 CD, digital) was released Nov. 18, with a three-LP vinyl release Dec. 2.

It is heralded as guitarist Ritchie Blackmore’s return to hard rock after years of playing renaissance-flavored music with Blackmore’s Night.

Candice Night is a background singer in this new Rainbow line-up. Lead vocalist Ronnie Romero covers the Purple/Rainbow set list admirably, considering that it features songs from Coverdale, Gillian and Dio.

My favorites include the only MKIII song, “Mistreated;” “Man On The Silver Mountain,” with a Dio mention; a slightly shortened “Perfect Strangers;” the powerful “Stargazer,” the tight rhythm section and hearing “Child In Time” live for the first time in a while.

The “Monsters Of Rock” crowd got a thrill, and Blackmore fans who watch/listen to this package will, too.

‘Live at the Royal Albert Hall with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra,’ Heart (eagle Rock Entertainment, )

This Dec. 2 package (DVD, Blu-Ray, CD and digital) captures Heart’s first live performance at Royal Albert Hall and first filmed with a full orchestra. Many familiar hits are presented, along with newer songs. Sisters/harmony singers Ann Wilson (vocals) and Nancy Wilson (guitar/vocals) are supported in this talk-heavy program by drummer Ben Smith, bassist Dan Rothchild, guitarist Craig Bartock, keyboardist Chris Joyner, plus the orchestra conducted by Nick Davies.

The orchestra enters after one song, and really adds to “Dreamboat Annie,” “What About Love,” new songs like “I Jump” and “Beautiful Broken,” Nancy’s lead vocal on Neo’s “Two,” “These Dreams” and “Crazy On You.”

This is a wonderful package, which includes interviews and three more songs.

‘Shoot the Moon,’ Roger Street Friedman (The Playroom Records LLC, )

This Jan. 13 CD/digital release comes from 54-year-old R.S. Friedman, a husband/father of two children, and a singer/songwriter/acoustic guitarist with numerous studio collaborators that flesh out the songs interestingly. The abbreviated highlights list below contains “genres in parentheses,” when appropriate.

“Puffs Of Smoke” (Memphis soul), “Everyday” (bluegrass instruments included), “Hideaway” (twangy guitar-driven Americana), “Tidal Wave” (with soulful backing vocals), “Tomorrow” (country-rock), the fondly remembered “Love Of A Mother” and the thoughtful lyricism of all the tunes.

This recording isn’t possible to pigeonhole, and that’s a good thing. Fans of good music will enjoy it.

Ricky Flake, a former punk rocker and current music fan, lives in Biloxi. Reach him at flakericky@gmail.com