I followed the career of “Dio” the band since it started after the downfall of the Mob Rules incarnation of Black Sabbath. Followed it through Ronnie’s return to Black Sabbath in 1992, back to Dio, and through the third Sabbath stint, Heaven & Hell. Through all that time, there’s been a few Dio compilations that I’m aware of. 1992’s “Diamonds: The Best of Dio”, 2000’s “The Very Beast of Dio”, 2003’s “Stand Up & Shout: The Dio Anthology”, & 2005’s “Metal Hits” (plus a handful of smaller, non US releases). Diamonds was never released domestically in the US. Stand Up & Shout was released in the US, but didn’t get a ton of attention, as I recall.
Universal is set to hopefully draw some attention to the wide ranging career of Ronnie James Dio with a new compilation due on August 8th, called “Mightier Than the Sword: The Ronnie James Dio Story”. This two disc career spanning retrospective culls tracks from as far back as one of the Elf albums from 1974, going through Rainbow in the latter 70’s, and then the back and forth dance between “Dio” and Black Sabbath in the 80’s, 90’s, & 00’s.
This compares a bit more well to the older Anthology compilation, as I feel the track list is a bit more spread out. Additionally, this new compilation has two more studio albums to draw from than the old one does (plus a handful of live albums as well). Anyway, I’m rather pleased with the track listing for this new compilation, which is thus:
- Carolina County Ball (Elf)
- Love is All (The Butterfly Ball)
- Temple of the King (Rainbow)
- Catch the Rainbow (Rainbow)
- Stargazer (Rainbow)
- Run With the Wolf (Rainbow)
- Kill the King (Live – Rainbow)
- Long Live Rock & Roll (Rainbow)
- Lady of the Lake (Rainbow)
- Gates of Babylon (Rainbow)
- Die Young (Black Sabbath)
- Heaven and Hell (Black Sabbath)
- Children of the Sea (Black Sabbath)
- Mob Rules (Black Sabbath; “Heavy Metal” version)
- Voodoo (Black Sabbath)
- Country Girl (Black Sabbath)
- Holy Diver (Dio)
- Rainbow in the Dark (Dio)
- We Rock (Dio)
- Rock ‘n’ Roll Children (Dio)
- All the Fools Sailed Away (Dio)
- I (Black Sabbath)
- Push (Dio)
- One More for the Road (Dio)
- Shadow of the Wind (Black Sabbath)
- Neon Knights (Live – Heaven & Hell)
- Bible Black (Heaven & Hell)
There’s a few live tracks on here. According to the press release, Kill the King comes from the Rainbow On Stage album, Neon Knights is from Live at Radio City Music Hall, and the version of Mob Rules here is the version from the Heavy Metal Soundtrack (and the recent 2 CD Deluxe Edition of Mob Rules). So it’s not just a straight up lift from the studio albums, which is nice.
As with any compilation, individual choice will dictate whether or not you like the track listing, and that’s the case here. Now, given I’ve made a few friends at record labels, I’ve learned a few things about licensing and territories, and in a lot of cases when you get a career retrospective piece like this, it can dictate what is on here (due to labels, lawyers, etc). With that in mind, I’d say the track listing is fairly well representative of his career recorded output. I feel it’s a bit too heavy on the Rainbow era, and not enough on the Dio solo era. He had three studio albums with Elf, three with Rainbow, four with Black Sabbath, and 10 “Dio” studio albums. Lock Up the Wolves, Strange Highways, Angry Machines, & Magica all had no tracks on here. Granted, I understand you can’t cover everything on a two disc compilation, and there’s the aforementioned legal issues possibly at work here, but still. I would have preferred “Run With the Wolf” & “Lady of the Lake” be dropped in favor of a track from these other albums. I would vote for “Jesus, Mary, & The Holy Ghost” & “Fever Dreams”. Still, that’s my personal choice, you might think they’re naff choices, that’s fine.
As it stands, it’s a great compliation of his career work from 1974 through 2008. I’d urge you to pick up a copy when it comes out next month. I’ve been told that this will be released domestically in the US as well, although I don’t have a firm date for that. It comes out in Europe on August 8th, and you can pre-order it by clicking on the links below. The Amazon US link goes to an import purchase of the European one, not the US domestic release. If/when I find the order info on the US domestic release, I’ll update. Either way, if you haven’t checked out some of Dio’s material, I urge you to do so. There’s a nice booklet with a story about his career in here, and some words to say bout the RJD Foundation as well.
Below is the formal press release, so give that a read, too. I’ll leave you with this quote from Tony Iommi from the booklet:
“I always thought Ronnie would be around
forever. Fantastic bandmate. He loved his
music. He loved his fans. He loved his friends.” (Tony Iommi – Black Sabbath)
THE RONNIE JAMES DIO STORY:
“MIGHTIER THAN THE SWORD”
Release date: 8th August 2011
The depth of loss felt within the Rock and Metal communities by the passing of Ronnie James Dio on the 16th May 2010 was immense, and is testament to the high esteem with which the man and his legacy is held. As a fitting reminder of this legacy, Universal Music is proud to present The Ronnie James Dio Story: Mightier Than The Sword, a 2CD collection celebrating over three decades of music from one of the greatest vocalists in the entire history of Hard Rock and Heavy Metal.
As lead vocalist to such Rock giants as Rainbow and Black Sabbath, as well as fronting his own eponymous band for nearly three decades, Dio created some of the genres most defining and respected works. Albums such as Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow, Rainbow Rising and Long Live Rock ‘n’ Roll for Ritchie’s post Deep Purple band Rainbow; then Heaven And Hell, Mob Rules, Dehumanizer and Live Evil for the mighty Black Sabbath and with his own band Dio, albums such as Holy Diver, The Last In Line and Sacred Heart, all stand as towering monuments of sheer class and brilliance in the Rock pantheon. As a live performer, Dio knew few equals. With his lions roar and incredible vocal range, the front-man presided over countless memorable rock shows, delighting millions of fans all over the world.
With two Discs full of Dio from early to late, we hear it where it all began with Elf, and Carolina County Ball from their 1972 eponymous debut album. Leading on to Dio’s time spent with Rainbow bassist and producer Roger Glover and his solo album The Butterfly Ball And The Grasshoppers Feast from which the song “Love Is All” is taken from.
The next eight tracks are then naturally centered around Dio’s time with Rainbow include tracks ‘Stargazer’, ‘Kill The King’ and ‘Gates Of Babylon’ which rank among some of the greatest rock tracks ever recorded and although Blackmore’s band was steered somewhat haphazardly at times, Ronnie James Dio’s consistently supreme vocal contribution over their three studio albums and one live release, ensured a level of artistic excellence was maintained and still stands as a hallmark to some of the very best music in the rock field.
Also included are tracks from Dio’s time spent as lead vocalist with Black Sabbath. Dio had given Sabbath a new lease of life and the two titanic studio albums they recorded during the early 80s, Heaven And Hell (1980) and Mob Rules (1981), hold some of Metal’s greatest tracks. The version of ‘Mob Rules’ featured here is actually the demo track which was used in the soundtrack to the film celebrating the comic books, Heavy Metal.
Representing Dio’s time spent at the helm of his own band are the colossal title track and ‘Rainbow In The Dark’ from the debut album, Holy Diver (1983). Also, featured are ‘We Rock’ from the follow-up, The Last In Line album (1984); ‘Rock ‘N’ Roll Children’ from Sacred Heart (1985) and ‘All The Fools Sailed Away’ from Dream Evil (1987). The track ‘Push’ represents Dio’s Killing The Dragon album released in 2002 and the final track from Dio (the band) is the opening track from the very last album, Master Of The Moon, released in 2004. A further two tracks under the Black Sabbath brand also appear – ‘I’ from the first reunion album, Dehumanizer in 1992 and also ‘Shadow Of The Wind’ which was a brand new track recorded exclusively for the compilation, Black Sabbath: The Dio Years and first released in 2007.
Rounding off The Ronnie James Dio Story: Mightier Than The Sword are two tracks recorded during the second reunion Dio undertook with his old Sabbath cohorts, though this time reunited under the banner of that first album, Heaven And Hell. ‘Neon Knights’ is the live version which appeared on the album, Live At Radio City Music Hall (2007) and ‘Bible Black’ from The Devil You Know, which was the final studio album Dio recorded with Heaven And Hell in 2008.
Full tracklisting overleaf…
1. Carolina County Ball ELF
2. Love Is All THE BUTTERFLY BALL…
3. Temple Of The King RAINBOW
4. Catch The Rainbow RAINBOW
5. Stargazer RAINBOW
6. Run With The Wolf RAINBOW
7. Kill The King (Live) RAINBOW
8. Long Live Rock ‘n’ Roll RAINBOW
9. Lady Of The Lake RAINBOW
10. Gates Of Babylon RAINBOW
11. Die Young BLACK SABBATH
12. Heaven And Hell BLACK SABBATH
13. Children Of The Sea BLACK SABBATH
1. Mob Rules BLACK SABBATH
2. Voodoo BLACK SABBATH
3. Country Girl BLACK SABBATH
4. Holy Diver DIO
5. Rainbow In The Dark DIO
6. We Rock DIO
7. Rock ‘n’ Roll Children DIO
8. All The Fools Sailed Away DIO
9. I BLACK SABBATH
10. Push DIO
11. One More For The Road DIO
12. Shadow Of The Wind BLACK SABBATH
13. Neon Knights (Live) HEAVEN AND HELL
14. Bible Black HEAVEN AND HELL
The Ronnie James Dio Story – “Mightier Than The Sword” will be released on the 8th August 2011