DIO

"At Donington UK: Live 1983 & 1987" (Niji; 2010)

You can never get too much Ronnie James Dio and, as such, this two CD collection is something that any fan of the legendary metal vocalist will want to have in their collection. Included are re-mastered recordings from Dio's appearances at Donington in 1983 (Disc 1) and 1987 (Disc 2), a standard CD booklet with photos and liner notes, all combined in a fantastically packaged folding digi-pak with an awesome cover photo of Dio in action. It's truly a niece piece for any Dio collector.

The problem is that, unfortunately, these live recordings are not the very best Dio recordings out there. Both CDs sound a little muffled and flat (CD 1 more so than CD 2), and the power of the performances, while obviously incredible during the actual live shows, is diminished because of it. According to several reviews elsewhere on the net, these recordings were once readily available as bootlegs and, despite a label re-mastering, the shortcomings (and reported additional edits) are apparent here.

Still, as I mentioned above, you can never get too much Ronnie James Dio and I hesitate to complain too much about this set because I want to make sure still more unreleased Dio is available in the future. And, frankly, there isn't that much to complain about. Sure, the 1983 disc sounds a little rough ... I mean, that show took place nearly thirty years ago. And, while the 1987 disc is much better, it, too, isn't perfect. The bottom line is that if you're expecting these CDs to sound as pure and clear as, say, "Evil or Divine" (reviewed below), you might be in for a disappointment. But if you're looking for the rare treat of hearing two live Dio performances you might have missed before, the flaws here are easily ignored.

For more information, check out http://www.ronniejamesdio.com

"Holy Diver Live" (Eagle; 2006)

Reviewed by Mike SOS

The diminutive Ronnie James Dio is a legend no matter how you slice it (take that, Sharon Osbourne!), and this two-disc collection is just another showcase as to why. 

"Holy Diver Live" is just that, plus a handful of Dio’s greatest hits during the years with Rainbow, Black Sabbath, and his illustrious solo career. But the real treat here is the nine-track live rendition of Dio’s 1983 classic disc, taken from a live gig in London, where audience and band gel into one massive heavy metal monster, cutting through global hits like “Rainbow in the Dark” and “Stand Up and Shout” with the passion and emotion like it was released yesterday. 

A timeless classic done by a true metal icon, Dio’s legacy is further solidified thanks to this live offering. 

For more information, check out http://www.ronniejamesdio.com

"Evil or Divine: Live in New York City" (Spitfire; 2005)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

Dio's great "Killing the Dragon" tour is commemorated in this live recording, taken from the December 13, 2002 performance at New York's Roseland Ballroom. 

Containing all the big hits ("Stand up and Shout," "Don't Talk to Strangers," "Holy Diver," "The Last in Line," "Heaven and Hell" and "Rainbow in the Dark" and full renditions of the classic Rainbow tunes "Man on the Silver Mountain" and "Long Live Rock and Roll" (rather than a medley of shortened versions), "Evil or Divine" is a great balance of the long and impressive career of Ronnie James Dio and the Big 3 bands he's fronted (those being, of course, Rainbow, Black Sabbath and Dio). 

The performances here are all excellent and, as usual, Ronnie James Dio sounds great, but the question must be asked: Why another disc of live songs, most of which Dio fans have already collected on previous live releases (the excellent "Inferno" and the less-than-spectacular "Intermission")? Well, there is the killer guitar solo by Doug Aldrich that appears midway through the aforementioned Rainbow tunes and, overall, "Evil or Divine" is an even better live recording than "Inferno" although one has to wish it was two CDs rather than just one (of course, it is close to 80 minutes anyway). And it has been five years since the release of "Inferno."

Dio fans will want to add this to their collection as it is another fine live collection of the master's music. A companion DVD is also available.

Performing on "Evil or Divine" are: Ronnie James Dio - vocals; Doug Aldrich - guitars; Simon Wright - drums; Jimmy Bain - bass; Scott Warren - keyboards.

For more information, check out http://www.ronniejamesdio.com

"Master of the Moon" (Sanctuary; 2004)

Reviewed by Snidermann

Ronnie James Dio. The name alone brings up recollections of solid, dark and gloomy metal music with occult overtones. Also brought to mind is Dio, as the singer of Black Sabbath, with classic releases such as "Heaven and Hell," "Mob Rules" and "Dehumanizer" under his belt as well as serving in the same capacity for Ritchie Blackmore and Rainbow from 1975 to 1986. I have seen Dio live more than a few times and he blew me away with the force of his voice and stage presence. 

However, on "Master of the Moon," I found the music way too slow and I kept checking my CD player to see if the batteries were at full charge. I kept searching for fire in this recording, but all I heard was smoke and plodding music with no real substance. 

I am disappointed in this release, to say the least. It has none of the real Dio magic. I realize Ronnie James Dio, as usual, was trying to get a message across, but frankly, I didn't get it. The voice was there, as it always is, but there's never any real magic. The long-winded, plodding and overblown approach was, as I said before, too slow, too boring and, in my opinion, possibly the worst Dio recording ever. Although the music does pick up the pace a bit eventually, it's just a little too late to make a difference. 

I'm going back to my classic Dio records to remind myself that Ronnie James Dio is one of the greatest voices in metal and that I shouldn't judge his career by this one disappointing recording.

For more information, check out http://www.RonnieJamesDio.com

"Stand Up and Shout: The Anthology" (Rhino / Warner Bros.; 2003)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

Ronnie James Dio is one of the greatest voices, musicians and personalities of hard rock / heavy metal and I can't think of anyone more deserving of a career-spanning anthology. This anthology may not venture into Dio's more recent territory (i.e., his "Magica" and "Killing the Dragon" CDs) but it's such a great cross-section of everything else that it warrants the coveted four chainsaw rating.

"Stand Up and Shout" is a two disc anthology, running over 150 minutes, that contains songs from Ronnie James Dio's days with Elf, Rainbow, Black Sabbath and, of course, Dio. In fact, Dio (the band) gets an entire disc to itself, which is only appropriate since that's where Ronnie James Dio made his strongest mark.

Disc 1 begins with three songs from Elf, "Hoochie Koochie Man, " "I'm Coming Back For You" and "Caroline County Ball." All are classic boogie-woogie rock'n'roll numbers that stand the test of time surprisingly well. Perhaps more surprising is that Ronnie James' voice is virtually the same then as it is now. 

Three tracks from Rainbow are up next, including the mega-hits, "Man on the Silver Mountain" and "Long Live Rock'n'Roll." Seven songs from Dio's Black Sabbath years follow, including the classic metal rockers "Neon Nights," Children of the Sea," "Heaven and Hell" "The Mob Rules" and a live version of "Voodoo" recorded in 1982.

The Dio material starts with one track at the end of Disc 1 ("a live version of "Sacred Heart" from 1985) and continues on Disc 2. There are 14 tracks and over 75 minutes on Disc 2 alone and the track listing is full of classic Dio material that is still played live at every Dio show today. "Stand Up and Shout," "Holy Diver," "Rainbow In the Dark," "The Last in Line" "Hungry For Heaven"  plus nine others. There aren't many bands that could deliver a greatest hits package with 14 songs as good as these, and that's not even counting the great material on Disc 1.

The entire two disc set has been remastered and sounds better than ever, yet another reason to rush out and pick up this CD. Dio fans shouldn't go another day without adding "The Anthology" to their collection. And that should be most of us, both readers and writers of RoughEdge.com.

The package also contains extensive liner notes by Lonn Friend and a song-by-song commentary by Ronnie James Dio himself. And, speaking of the packaging - in typical Dio fashion - it's spectacular.

For more information (and extended liner notes), check out www.rhino.com or visit http://www.ronniejamesdio.com

"Killing the Dragon" (Spitfire Records; 2002)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

In the press release for his new CD, Ronnie James Dio states that maybe the time for "Killing the Dragon" has come again, only these days, the dragon is the computer.

Hard for me to agree with, considering I'm writing this for an online e-zine.

That aside, "Killing the Dragon" is an excellent album by one of rock's greatest voices and songwriters. Harkening back to his days of "Holy Diver" and "The Last in Line," Ronnie James Dio and crew have put together a powerful, headbanging album full of muscular guitar riffs, effective leads, intelligent lyrics and, most importantly when it comes to a Dio album, a collection of songs that spill easily out of your CD player. The songs on "Killing the Dragon" don't sound forced like some of Dio's previous releases. 

Preceded by the also excellent "Magica," "Killing the Dragon" is more evidence that Ronnie James Dio is back in action, not to mention in fine form. Although Dio's vocal stylings have never waned, occasionally his songwriting ability has. Happily, that's not the case on this CD. There isn't a substandard song on this release.

"Killing the Dragon" may not be as sophisticated as "Magica," but I don't think it's supposed to be. Whereas "Magica" was a rich, rock'n'roll opera, "Killing the Dragon" is a heavy metal CD, pure and simple. And, as that, it delivers. Fans of Dio's previous work will definitely not be disappointed.

Performing on "Killing the Dragon" are: Ronnie James Dio - vocals; Jimmy Bain - bass/vocals; Doug Aldrich - guitar; Simon Wright - drums; Scott Warren - keyboards.

For more information, check out http://www.RonnieJamesDio.com

"Killing the Dragon" (Spitfire Records; 2002)

Reviewed by Snidermann

There are a few things in this world that are constant: death, taxes, Gene Simmons being a greedy bastard, Motorhead always rocking hard live and Ronnie James Dio putting out a killer studio CD.

If you need proof, just check out Dio's latest release, "Killing The Dragon." This shit is proof positive that Dio can still put one killer release after another with no end in sight and continue to do it with tremendous power and charisma. I am simply amazed that Ronnie James still puts out the same type and quality of music that he has for decades and with different bands (Elf, Rainbow and Black Sabbath, Dio). The same style and intensity that made him a star way back when are still present and as powerful today.

"Killing The Dragon" is the best music from Dio I have heard since the 1990 release of "Lock Up The Wolves." I wish his music had more radio airtime and hence more commercially successful so he could tour more often and I could check out his awesome live shows. What the hell, as long as I have a Dio CD around, I am one happy fuck.

Performing on "Killing the Dragon" are: Ronnie James Dio - vocals; Jimmy Bain - bass/vocals; Doug Aldrich - guitar; Simon Wright - drums; Scott Warren - keyboards.

For more information, check out http://www.RonnieJamesDio.com

"Magica" (Spitfire Records; 2000)

Reviewed by Shelly Harris

Fifteen years ago, Ronnie James Dio told me, "I don't like to write things that are definite. I don't like to force feed the listener. What I try to make my songs do is to give you a pattern, an outline, so that you can weave yourself inside of that song and make your own judgments." Magica, Dio's first deliberate "concept album" stays true to that philosophy in an extraordinary way.

It's easy to be skeptical, even subconsciously negative, about an album that gets as much advance hype as this one has, but I must admit the rumors are true: This is Dio's best album since "Holy Diver," and may be his best ever. It is the work of a skilled craftsman whose integrity and mastery - vocally, lyrically, and conceptually - have clearly (damn the cliché) increased with the years. The terminology is so overused, but this is really one of those very rare records that you know is a "classic" from the first time you listen to it; there's no need to wait around several years to realize its quality in retrospect. 

Although "Magica" is downright beautiful in an aural respect, and it stands on its own even without the lyrical aspect (i.e. knowledge of English isn't a necessity to appreciate the mood and depth of emotion), it is not mindless music. "Magica" is demanding of the listener in that it requires complete, focused attention to be understood and appreciated; moreover, like any great book or other work of art, it absolutely compels the engagement of the imagination. In other words, it is most definitely is not background music for even your rudimentary household chores—at least not the first twenty times you listen to it—and, believe me, you will want to listen to it many more times than that. 

"Magica" basically dots the "i"s and crosses the "t"s on the themes and attitude that Dio has been promulgating for years. Yes, it is high tech meets Medieval Times; yes it is opera and orchestra meet riffs and crashing drums. But we also get the Celtic, madrigal, classical, and monastery/choir-type evocative accents thrown in for good measure, to enhance the moodiness and the time period of the Magica musical tale. And, of course, it also has Dio's trademark soaring and highly emotive vocals too, but what's different here is the uniform superiority of the songwriting, the playing, and the full and mighty production that the material on this album so clearly demands. If there were any thing I would change about the record, it would be to leave off the narration at the very end, which is supposed to give the listener a synopsis, or a framework, of the story behind the songs. I'm sure that there will be those who disagree, but for me the album would have been more effective without the whole added-on fairy tale, as I had my own fantasy underway by the time the songs were over. Moreover, although Dio is a very affable, intelligent, and perceptive man when he's not doing his singing-bit, let's just say that speaking voice-wise, he's not in the league with Patrick Stewart, who is about the only actor whose voice and diction would be well enough suited to telling the Magica tale to my satisfaction. 

Nitpicking aside, specific tracks that stand out most, and which may get radio airplay on those few stations that are not still prejudiced against those artists associated with "traditional" heavy metal: "Fever Dreams," "(Challis) Marry the Devil's Daughter," "Lord Of The Last Day," ballad-turned-dirge "As Long As It's Not About Love," "Losing My Insanity," and, well, nearly everything else on there, really. 

Finally, Magica is not an esoteric record designed only to appeal to Dio/Sabbath/Rainbow connoisseurs; like all great musical works, it is bound to make an impact on anyone with an open mind who bothers to have a listen. In other words, it is Timeless.

Dio is: Ronnie James Dio (vocals); Craig Goldy (guitar), Jimmy Bain (Bass), and Simon Wright (Drums).

"Magica" (Spitfire Records; 2000)

Reviewed by Christopher J. Kelter

During the heyday of '80s metal I had always managed to hear Dio on the radio or MTV, but never managed to actually buy a Dio album. It wasn't long ago that I borrowed a Dio 'greatest hits' CD from a friend. Upon listening to the 'greatest hits' CD I had a renewed sense of discovering the contributions Dio has made to the world in his post-Elf, post-Rainbow, and post-Sabbath days. What better place to start than the latest, and much acclaimed, release "Magica" to hear what's been accomplished since then. "Magica" is a concept album and, quite frankly, it's really surprising that Dio hadn't done a concept album up until now.

Ronnie James Dio's place in the musical pantheon is firmly established.  Yet again, however, the metal faithful are blessed with a superior recording from a master songwriter and craftsman. However, one still has to cut through the din of the hype machine to really assess whether or not "Magica" is as good as everyone says it is.

"Magica" tells the story of an ancient land decimated by catastrophic events. The ancient land is visited by aliens and the classic tale of good versus evil is elevated. "Magica" is an elaborate tale, but who better to tell a fantastic story than Ronnie James Dio? And let's not fool ourselves: interlaced stories about medieval times and science fiction is not an easy task - this story line will demand your full attention. The listener will only get what they out of "Magica" what they put into it. 

Obviously, as only Ronnie James Dio can do, great care has been taken with the lyrics. The added bonus with "Magica" is that the music, with Craig Goldy's sure-handed assistance, is up to snuff, too. Amidst the classic Dio sound are classical elements, medieval melodies, operatic parts, and sophisticated story-telling. 

Although some tracks echo Dio classics of the past (for instance, the melody of "Fever Dreams" is a dead-ringer for "Last In Line") "Magica" is a cohesive work that should please metal fans of all types. An additional improvement would have been in the percussion department - I love Simon Wright's work, but his drumming here seems a bit simplistic and under-whelming. Also, at the end of the CD is very long (and very aggravating) inclusion of the telling of the Magica "story" - it's completely unnecessary as the story is written out in the liner notes. 

The bottom-line: "Magica" is a great CD, but lacking that extra oomph that would get it to the coveted four chainsaws. "Magica" is still highly recommended for those who enjoy sounds of serious '80s metal. 

Dio is Ronnie James Dio on vocals and keyboards, Craig Goldy on guitar and keyboards, Jimmy Bain on bass, and Simon Wright on drums. Dio has surrounded himself with a veritable cadre of talent: Goldy had worked Guiffria and with Dio on "Dream Evil," Bain with Rainbow, and Wright with AC/DC.  

For more information visit http://www.ronniejamesdio.com

"Inferno: Last in Live" (Mayhem; 2000)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

Having fared less than well with a previous live outing, 1986's lukewarm "Intermission," Ronnie James Dio released "Inferno," a double live CD, fourteen years later. Happily, "Inferno" is much better than "Intermission," featuring livelier performances,  better production values (thanks to better technology) and two full discs of material spanning Dio's illustrious career ("Intermission" was merely an EP).

One thing you know going in is that Dio himself is going to sound awesome. With some of the best pipes in the business, I can't think of a single time Ronnie James Dio has personally let an audience down. He sounds as good live as he does on live recordings as he does on studio recordings. He's that damn good. He doesn't disappoint here, either - once again, Dio's voice is perfection.

The selection of material is a plus, too, ranging from Dio's days with Rainbow ("Mistreated," "Man on the Silver Mountain") to his tenure with Black Sabbath ("Heaven and Hell" to some of his early solo work ("Last in Line," "Rainbow in the Dark") to some of the more recent stuff ("Jesus Mary & Holy Ghost).

"Inferno" may not be as satisfying as some of the great Dio compilations out there, particularly the two disc, "Stand Up and Shout: The Dio Anthology." Still, it's by far his best live release to date and a must for any Dio fan's collection.

Performing on "Inferno" are: Ronnie James Dio - vocals; Vinny Appice - drums; Larry Dennison - bass; Scott Warren - keyboards; Tracy G - guitars.

For more information, check out http://www.ronniejamesdio.com

"Lock Up the Wolves" (Reprise; 1990)

Reviewed by Snidermann

Dio's 1990 release "Lock Up The Wolves" is a testament to the musical genius of the man himself, Ronnie James Dio. It is a dark yet extremely vibrant CD. In other words, it's pure, vintage Dio. 

Dio's live shows have always impressed me. The sheer musical essence of Ronnie, his songwriting talent and, of course, his incredible vocals. This CD is no exception. It simply rocks. 

The line-up on this CD is a strong ensemble of musicians, most notably Simon Wright (a seven-year member of AC/DC) on drums and an impressive 18 year-old guitarist named Rowan Robertson. Robertson was picked from a group of 5,000 guitarists on a worldwide talent search and it's no wonder. This cat is a stand out strummer. 

"Lock Up The Wolves" is Ronnie James Dio at his twisted best. This release rivals anything he did with Rainbow or Black Sabbath. I give a full four chainsaws to this very strong and sadly underrated release.

For more information visit http://www.ronniejamesdio.com

"Holy Diver" (Warner Bros; 1983)

Reviewed by Snidermann

I remember when "Holy Diver" was first released back in May 1983. There was some other good music that came out that year - Black Sabbath released "Live Evil" and Def Leppard had "Pyromania." But there was also a lot of crap.

After singing for Elf, Rainbow and Black Sabbath, Ronnie James Dio finally let loose with a band that sported his name and "Holy Diver" was that release. Classics like "Stand Up And Shout," "Holy Diver," "Don’t Talk To Strangers" and "Rainbow In The Dark" come from this one single CD. That's amazing.

Dio's vocals amazed when he was with Black Sabbath but he blew us away with "Holy Diver." His signature eerie voice booms throughout this recording and it sounds as good or better now than when it was originally released.

"Holy Diver" stands out as a model for not only outstanding metal vocal performance, but for metal as a whole. This is one of the best heavy metal recordings ever released.

Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.


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Revised: 02 May 2017 21:24:56 -0400.