Ronnie James Dio (born Ronald James Padavona) was born in Portsmouth July, 10 1942, only son of an Italian family. Dio is a legend of heavy metal. He has recorded with some of the greatest bands in the world including, of course, Black Sabbath and Rainbow. His solo albums are just as incredible. I can honestly say that I have been a fan since the beginning. I saw Dio in Philadelphia at a little theatre in Downtown Philly with Twisted Sister. A year later he sold out the Spectrum with Twisted Sister again opening the show. Ronnie also sang for Elf in the early to mid 1970's as well as did some vocals on Kerry Livegrin's first solo album.
On May 16th, at 7:45 AM, Ronnie James Dio passed away from his battle with stomach cancer. CANCER SUCKS!
One of the all-time greatest heavy metal discs. What makes this album such a masterpiece is that Dio bought the mystical lyrics and showmanship of Black Sabbath and fused it with Rainbow's high spirited rock'n'roll and sense of melody. Mix that with some 80's guitar crunch and Vivian Campbell's firey leads and you have yourself one fine album. There simply isn't a song on this disc that isn't great; from the up tempo opener "Stand Up and Shout," which was just meant to be a concert opener, to the classic mid-tempo title cut, to the classic hit "Rainbow in the Dark". This album was recorded at the Sound City studios in Los Angeles. All the keyboard work on the new project was done by Jimmy Bain, although rumor has it that Dio played some keyboard too. The album went platinum in the United States alone. This and the next three Dio CDs would feature the "classic" lineup of Ronnie James Dio with ex-Rainbow bassist Jimmy Bain, ex-Black Sabbath drummer Vinnie Appice and guitarist Vivian Campbell. Also on board was keyboardist Claude Schnell who had played behind the scenes with Black Sabbath. For some strange reason Claude was never listed as a member but would be with Ronnie for quite some time. Fortunately I was able to see the band on this tour in a small theater outside of Philadelphia with Twisted Sister opening. It was a great show. The success of this album pushed Ronnie to the big stadiums by the next year and when he came around again in '84, again with Twisted Sister, they sold out the Philadelphia Spectrum.
It must have been hard to follow up an album as strong as "Holy Diver" but "Last in Line" is just as impressive, if not moreso. The title track is one of Dio's best and one of those timeless metal anthems. "I Speed at Night" is one of the faster Dio songs. "Breathless" is a bonified Dio classic.
Saw Dio again on this tour, again with Twisted Sister opening. Together they sold out the Philadelphia Spectrum.
This was a very cool find, not only because it's a great show from a classic period in Dio's career, but because I actually attended this concert. I saw Dio the year before at a small club in Philadelphia with Twisted Sister. Only a year later Dio returned the King of Metal, selling out the Spectrum again with Twisted Sister. Every song on this disc is a classic. The sound quality of this boot is quite good, for the most part, as it came from a professionally recorded video. Vivian Campell's guitar solo is awesome and had me wondering why he would be happy just playing rhythm guitar in Def Leppard.
"Intermission" is a live EP that was harder than heck to find on cd. I use to own all Dio's 12" singles. All of them contained a live track on the b-side. I wish Warner Bros. would re-release this live EP with all those b-sides as bonus tracks. Now that would be a great disc. As it stands, this live disc is good, just too short. "Time to Burn" is a new studio track that was sandwiched between the live songs.
Dio - Dream Evil (Warner Bros.) 1987
1. Night People
"Dream Evil" is Dio's fourth album and was released in July of 1987. The album was the first to feature new guitarist Craig Goldy, who had replaced Vivian Campell during the "Sacred Heart" tour. (Vivian went on to play with Whitesnake and Def
Leppard..) Obviously, Craig had something to prove here. Before Dio, Goldy was known for the pop metal sounds of Guiffria and Rough Cutt. With with Dio, however, he proved that he had the heart and chops to replace Vivian without skipping a beat. As would be expected, the guitar playing is outstanding. Of course, Ronnie is Ronnie, so not much needs to be said about the vocals. "Dream Evil" was the last album to feature original drummer Vinny Appice, though Vinny would appear again in 1994 on "Strange Highways" and would also follow Dio back to Heaven and Hell a over decade later.
"Lock Up the Wolves" features an entirely new Dio line-up and now features guitarist Rowan Robertson (from England, who was only teenager at the time), Simon Wright of AC/DC fame and ex-Yngwie Malmsteen keyboardist Jens Johanssen. Jens went on to join Stratovarious and Masterplan. (I'll bet if someone made one of those family trees for Dio, it would be quite large but very interesting.)
Dio - Diamonds-The Best of Dio (Vertigo) 1992
1. Holy Diver (5:51)
I own this cd for one reason; "Hide in the Rainbow" the song from the "Iron Eagle" soundtrack, which I have never seen. Some copies of this disc have a misprint on the back where "Sacred Heart" is listed as "Sacred Children." Well at least they didn't make the same mistake with "Hungry for Children." There is also a cd with similar track listing called "Dio-Anthology."
Dio - Strange Highways (Reprise) 1993
Another new guitarist, Tracy G, who manages to stay with Dio for the next few albums. "Strange Highways" also maked the return of Vinnie Appice. I'm not sure what the deal is, but Dio's studio stuff just isn't what it use to be. The songs are just not as memorable. The one thing I give Dio credit of is that he at least stayed true to himself and didn't sell out to grunge or some other crappy trend when his popularity disintegrated. I am so glad that Dio never did a MTV unplugged album. Anyhow, another killer cover, but the songs are just not his best although this album is slightly better than "Lock Up the Wolves."
I use to own an cd by a band called 8 Ball Cholos called "Satan's Whore" which also featued Tracy G, but I never listened to it, so I traded it off.
"Angry Machines" is a far better record than I had first given it credit for. The sound here is a bit heavier and darker than earlier Dio albums. There are several standout cuts on this album including the dark, heavy album opener "Institutional Man", as well as cuts like "Hunter of the Heart", "Black" and "Double Monday." Also, album closer "This Is Your Life" is a splendid piano ballad.
On "Angry Machines" guitarist Tracy G manages to grab a few writing credits. Unfortunately many Dio fans felt that guitarist Tracy G didn't quite fit the Dio bill, having a much more "modern" sound than any other guitarist Ronnie had worked with in the past. Perhaps this is true. I know when this CD first came out I wasn't overly impressed with it either. However, with time I've come to enjoy it quite a bit.
This album features another cool CD cover. This would be an album I would like to own on vinyl, for the cover if for nothing else. It's also noteworthy to mention that longtime Dio drummer Vinnie Appice and on-again/off-again Dokken bassist Jeff Pilson fill out the remainder of the Dio line-up for this album.
Dio - Anthology (Polygram) 1997
1. "Holy Diver"
Yet another Dio 'best of' compilation. "Anthology" is a European import. I picked up this CD in a cut out bin, still sealed for $3. This CD is far from being an extensive anthology of Dio. While the song selection for this compilation is pretty good, almost 1/3 of this CD is made up of tracks from "Holy Diver" and another 1/3 being from "Last in Line". The remaining tracks are taken from "Sacred Heart" and "Dream Evil", which totally ignores anything from the Rowan Robertson or Tracy G years. Also, whoever chose the tracks for this CD missed great songs like "Hungry For Heaven", "Rock and Roll Children" from "Sacred Heart" while managing to include perhaps the worst song Dio ever wrote, "Shoot Shoot". For the most part, with the exception of track 14, the songs are in chronological order. A part two to this anthology was released in 2001 and includes the rest of the tracks from "Holy Diver".
Dio-Inferno: Last in Live (Mayhem) 1998
Obviously Ronnie knows what his fans want to hear as his live set comprises almost completely of early material. Dio delivers five songs from "Holy Diver," two from "Last in Line," plus a few classics from Black Sabbath and Rainbow . I sort of wish he would have included some material from "Dream Evil" rather than Deep Purple's "Mistreated." Also, Vinnie Appice's drum solo is rather simple. For some reason, I remember him doing a better drum solo than this. In any case, this is a good live album. While Dio's recent studio efforts have not been his best work, there is no question that he is still a stellar live performer.
I dunno, maybe it's nastalgia, maybe it's that I'm a Dio diehard, but I love this disc. Bought it new the day it came out. Listened to it over and over again as I had a ticket to see Dio at a local bar and I wanted to be familiar with the new disc. Good thing I did as he played the ENTIRE DISC from start to finish. Thankfully, it did not included track #14 which is Dio telling the story of Magica. Never have made it all the way through it. Magica is the first Dio concept disc and is a sci-fi tale of good (Blessing) vs. evil (Evilsyde). "Magica" marked the return of bassist Jimmy Bain as well as guitarist Craig Gouldy and ex-AC/DC drummer Simon Wright . Tracy G apparently was asked to play second guitarist to Craig, but refused and stepped down. Hmm, probably was a wise decision. Check out the Tribute section for the Dio tribute.
I was anxious to get this new disc after thoroughly enjoying Dio's last studio disc "Magica." However, as good as that disc was, "Killing the Dragon" is without a doubt his best disc since "Dream Evil." I'd even be so bold as to say that "Killing the Dragon" is Dio's best disc since "Holy Diver". Yes, it's that good! The writing team of Ronnie James Dio and Jimmy Bain back in place. "Killing the Dragon" is full of galloping, gothic heavy metal with Dio's signature voice wailing along. Every song on this disc is as good as the next, a feat that Dio has not accomplished since those early days after Black Sabbath. The first three tracks alone had me wanting to replay this disc over and over within the first few weeks of owning it. "Scream" sounds like it could easily have been written for "Holy Diver" yet at the same time sounds fresh and new. "Better in the Dark", "Rock 'n Roll", "Guilty", "Along Comes the Spider" and the album's first single "Push" are all excellent Dio compositions. "Rock 'n Roll" in particular seems to have a quality to it that reminds me of "Last in Line" or even some of the better material from "Sacred Heart." Overall, the music is heavy and catchy, Ronnie's voice is strong and his vocal melodies are parallel to his best work with Sabbath, Rainbow or Dio, which is saying alot. I suppose some will accuse Dio of just reinventing the wheel or living in the past. However, I could care less whether Ronnie is on the cutting edge of modern music or not. I'd much rather hear Ronnie do what he does best, and he certainly does that on ""Killing the Dragon."
One thing I found odd about this disc was the absence of guitarist Craig Gouldy, who I had thought was still with Dio and who had recorded on "Magica". While Gouldy does have some writing credits on "Killing the Dragon" new guitarist Doug Aldrich is credited with all the guitar work and takes some of the songwriting credits as well. Doug pulls of some fine guitar solos on this disc. Drummer Simon Wright is back for another go however, along with legendary bassist Jimmy Bain. Dio is touring the U.S. opening for Deep Purple and the Scorpions to promote this disc. I would love to see him build his audience back up again and return as the reigning dragon slayer he was in the 80's.
Dio returns in 2004 with yet another metal monster, and a good follow-up the the equally monsterous "Killing the Dragon". The difference, however, is that "Master of the Moon" returns to the slower, doomier style present on "Magica." Instead of being more upbeat like "Push" the material present here is all of slower tempo. This will probably put some people off, especially those who seem to feel that it's not metal unless it's played 100mph. As for me, I tend to think metal is far more diverse than this rigid definition. Besides, Dio is the very definition of metal. Album lead-off track "One More For the Road" is one of the more upbeat tracks, and sounds like the perfect track for the opening of the Master of the Moon Tour! This song is typical of Dio, with is heavy riffs, haunting vocals and Craig Goldy's shredding leads. There are a couple of songs like "The Man Who Would Be King" and "The Eyes" that are much slower than anything I remember Dio doing in the past. These songs are more typical of doom metal with their slow, crunching riffs. Honestly, I could see these two songs fitting on a Black Sabbath album. Even the title track has a slow, eerie feel to it. The majority of the material, however is of the mid-paced variety with Dio's signature elf wail layered on top. Several songs features the keyboards very prominently, although never so that the guitar riffs is lost. Rather the keys are used more as effects, not unlike how the keys were used in Dio's timeless hit "Rainbow in the Dark." This works so well in tracks like "Shiver" where the keys really add to the emotion of the song. Likewise, "The Eyes" has a cool guitar effect in it that adds to the overall feel of the song. I must confess that unlike previous Dio efforts, this one is a grower. While the doomier feel threw me for a loop with the first listen, I found myself listening over and over again and enjoying it more and more with each listen. It's also worth mentioning that once again, this album features one of Ronnie James Dio's finest line-ups, including Craig Goldy - guitars, Jeff Pilson - bass, Scott Warren - keyboards and Simon Wright - drums.
Dio - Evil or Divine: Live in New York City (Spitfire Records) 2005
1. "Killing the Dragon"
I am very glad that Spitfire decided to release this DVD on CD. While live videos are cool, I tend to watch them only once in a blue moon, whereas I listen to CDs over and over again. I saw Dio on this tour, and just about every tour he's done. Dio is spectacular live. He has never let me down, and this CD is a testament to that fact. Both the newer tracks, as well as the old fan favorites are all performed with Dio's usual, robust, energy. The band is tight, including shredder Doug Aldrich. His guitar solo is quite good. Ronnie's band this time around was longtime bassist Jimmy Bain, guitarist Doug Aldrich, drummer Simon Wright and Scott Warren on keyboards. Nothing more to really add, except to mention that the production is good as well and this concert was recorded live on 12/13/02 at the Roseland Ballroom in NYC. This is a disc any Dio die-hard shouldn't be without.
I'm a sucker for live recordings. They capture a raw magic that a studio recording cannot capture. Perhaps this is a product of growing up in the 1970's when live albums were very popular. "Holy Diver Live" captures Dio and his band live in front of a sold-out crowd at London's Astoria in 2005. For this show Dio played the entire "Holy Diver" album in it's entirety. I would have loved to have been at this show. I had seen Dio in 2000 when he played the entire "Magica" album in it's entirety and I loved it. This show is no different. Unfortunately Dio's vocals on this album sound a bit tired. I had read reviews on-line that stated things like, "At 64 years old RJD is showing his age" and "RJD just can't sing anymore". This is just false. These people obviously have not experienced Dio live in recent years. Dio has lost none of his power with age. Rather, I think this CD captures Dio on a night where he was tired or not feeling well. He doesn't sound terrible, but I also know this CD doesn't represent what Ronnie can sound like live. Still, this CD captures a moment in time. Raw, edgy and heavy! This is Dio live and as a fan, I can't ask for more than that.
It's unfortunate that it took the death of the legendary Ronnie James Dio for these classic live recordings to surface, but I am certainly glad that they have finally been released in an official format. The 1987 shows from this 2-CD set has been floating around as a bootleg for years. Thankfully Ronnie's widow Wendy and their label Niji Entertainment took great care to put out the best sounding release they could and these two shows sound far better than any bootleg I have heard.