Dio - 'Holy Diver' / 'The Last In Line' / 'Sacred Heart' (Deluxe Editions) Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     June 02, 2012    
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The latest legend to be given the 'Deluxe' treatment.

The latest legend to be given the 'Deluxe' treatment is the late Ronnie James Dio, which sees the first three albums from his Dio group repackaged with a collection of goodies. I've decided to review them all together, because I can't believe there is any self respecting rock fan who doesn't know about, heard or own these albums in some form already. For those that have never heard of Dio, seek medical help immediately.

After a successful stint in Black Sabbath that led to a rather acrimonious departure, Ronnie set about putting together his own band Dio, recruiting Vivian Campbell on guitar, Jimmy Bain on bass and his Sabbath band mate Vinny Appice on drums. The quartet set about making the debut Dio album 'Holy Diver' and released a classic. Nine songs of superbly crafted rock, fronted by Ronnie's amazing voice, this album had it all. All killer, no filler, you don't mess with a classic, and fortunately the deluxe edition leaves it well alone. As for the bonus stuff, I'm delighted to say the extras here are of a far higher calibre than some of the woeful 'bonus' material other 'Deluxe' packages have offered (Rainbow's 'Down To Earth' set being a prime example). Here we find the 'Holy Diver' B-side 'Evil Eyes', which would actually be re-recorded for the second album, but I rather like this first version, it has a rawer feel. There are B-side live recordings of 'Stand Up and Shout' and 'Straight For The Heart' which are furiously paced and excellent, showing what a great line up Dio had put together. With that in mind, the rest of the disk is rounded out by a King Biscuit broadcast, featuring 'Stand Up And Shout', 'Shame On the Night', 'Holy Diver' and 'Rainbow In The Dark', along with Ronnie plundering his back catalogue to serve up excellent versions of Rainbow's 'Man On The Silver Mountain' and Sabbath's 'Children Of The Sea'. The sound isn't absolutely pristine, but it does have a nice, raw, good quality bootleg feel and is more than listenable.

Fireworks - The Ultimate Magazine For Melodic Rock Music

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How do you follow up a classic? Well, you make 'The Last in Line'. I must admit, I loved 'Holy Diver' that much I used to always regard 'The Last in Line' as it's weaker sibling, but upon revisiting it for this review, I completely underestimated how good it really is. There is quality here by the truckload, from the opening salvo of 'We Rock' and the epic title track, the classy 'Breathless' to the breakneck 'I Speed At Night', the commercial strain of 'Mystery', the powerhouse finale of 'Egypt (The Chains Are On')... it's another classic! Bonus tracks include more live B-sides and concert performances, but credit to UMC, they've mixed and matched so there isn't too much duplication. There are recordings from Dio's gig at the Pinkpop Festival in Geleen, which offers some different stuff. Alongside obvious favourites such as 'Stand Up And Shout' and 'Rainbow In The Dark' you get live performances of the new stuff like 'One Night in The City' and 'We Rock', as well as wheeling out the old epics such as 'Heaven And Hell' and 'Stargazer'. The sound for these recordings is crisper than the 'Holy Diver' stuff with some deep bass and treble heavy guitars. Ronnie, as always, is in top form.

'Sacred Heart' finds Dio going in a more commercial direction, but not at the expense of the song quality. With the sole exception of the title track, gone are the more epic tracks, instead the focus is on more three or four minute gems, such as 'King Of Rock And Roll', 'Hungry For Heaven' and 'Rock And Roll Children'. While not quite as high calibre as its two predecessors, 'Sacred Heart' is still a great album and marked the last with the Dio/Campbell/Bain/Appice lineup. Bonus material for 'Sacred Heart' is equally excellent, offering the studio track 'Hide In The Rainbow' that was only released on the virtually extinct 'Dio E.P.' or the 'Diamonds' compilation. The set is rounded out with three excellent sounding live B-sides, and the remastered live mini album 'Intermission' which features a lovely mix of material from Dio, Sabbath and Rainbow, as well as boasting another exclusive studio track, the catchy 'Time To Burn'.

To sum up, all the albums are well worth owning, and the bonus stuff is actually worth owning too. I had the original CD releases of these records, so to get them remastered with a bonus disk in each one of things I'd certainly listen to more than once? It makes these a no brainer, rather than the feeling of 'money for old rope' that can so often be attributed to the more poorly thought out sets. It's another great example of what an amazing artist the late Ronnie was. He rocked!

James Gaden

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