Ronnie James Dio has been gone just about two and a half years now. His last proper full album of material was the
Heaven & Hell Black Sabbath album, “The Devil You Know” in 2009. The last proper studio album of Dio Band material was 2004’s “Master of the Moon“. In that time, we’ve had several releases with Ronnie on them. Most of them when he was alive, some were not. Here’s a rundown of Dio output since 2004…
- Master of the Moon (STUDIO ALBUM) – 2004, Dio
- Evil or Divine (Live Album) – 2005, Dio
- Holy Diver Live (Live Album) – 2006, Dio
- The Dio Years (Compilation w/ new Studio Tracks) – 2007, Black Sabbath
- Live at Hamersmith Odeon (Live Album) – 2007, Black Sabbath
- Live at Radio City Music Hall (Live Album) – 2007, Heaven & Hell/Black Sabbath
- The Rules of Hell (Compilation Box Set) – 2008, Black Sabbath
- The Devil You Know (STUDIO ALBUM) – 2009, Heaven & Hell/Black Sabbath
- At Donington 83/87 (Live Album) – 2010, Dio
- Neon Nights: 30 Yrs of Heaven & Hell (LIve Album) – 2010, Heaven & Hell/Black Sabbath
- Mightier than the Sword (Compilation) – 2011, Dio
- And Before There Were Elves… (Compilation) – 2011, Elf/The Elves
So in the last 8 years, we’ve had two studio albums, six live albums, and four compilations (although one of these had three new studio tracks). So when I heard in the summer of 2012 we were getting yet another compilation, I groaned. I mean honestly, did we really need another one of these? I would promote it on the site like I promoted everything else, but I wasn’t envisioning getting too terribly excited about it.
I requested a copy of it from Wendy’s office, and one arrived. Spent some time with it over the last week, and I have to say I ended up enjoying this collection a lot. Mostly because I realized it’s from his later studio Dio albums. There’s a lot of material on these albums that have gotten overlooked because it’s not “Rainbow in the Dark”. Here’s the full track listing…
- Killing the Dragon (Killing the Dragon, 2002)
- Push (Killing the Dragon, 2002)
- The Eyes (Master of the Moon, 2004)
- Along Comes a Spider (Killing the Dragon, 2002)
- Better in the Dark (Killing the Dragon, 2002)
- Fever Dreams (Magica, 2000)
- Black (Angry Machines, 1996)
- Feed My Head (Magica, 2000)
- Shivers (Master of the Moon, 2004)
- Hunter of the Heart (Live) (Inferno: The Last in Live, 1998)
- One More for the Road (Master of the Moon, 2004)
- Lord of the Last Day (Magica, 2000)
- Electra (Magica II, Unreleased/2012)
- As Long as It’s Not About Love (Magica, 2000)
- This Is Your Life (Angry Machines, 1996)
- Metal Will Never Die (Bitten by The Beast (David Feinstein), 2010)
- The Prisoner of Paradise (Master of the Moon JAPANESE, 2004)
Most of these tracks were released when Ronnie parted ways with long time label Warner Brothers, and as such, he bounced around to a few record labels for these albums. As such, promotion wasn’t quite what it was before this. I know when I saw Ronnie on the Master of the Moon tour, he played a place that local bands played. Granted, when I saw him on the Strange Highways tour, he played a parking lot. Still, the latter Dio albums weren’t always as easy to find in shops from what I noticed.
So it’s quite good that these later albums have some light shined on them. There’s some really great tracks on here. But it’s not all about the compilation. There’s a few gems and oddballs on here. Here’s the “new” stuff.. (most isn’t really “new” new, but new to most)…
- The Prisoner of Paradise – This track comes from the final Dio studio album, Master of the Moon. However, this particular track was the track designated as being the “Japanese CD Exclusive” track. As with most tracks like this, the majority of fans never hear them outside of Japan. Oh sure, hardcores know about them, but the vast majority of fans tend to not track down rogue tracks like that, so this was good it was brought back.
- Electra – This was a track recorded for the Magica II sessions. This was something that Ronnie was going to do – Magica II & III at the same time, and then he was allegedly going to retire when they were out. Then he got back together with Sabbath, and the activities released under the “Heaven & Hell” banner kept pushing off the Magica releases. Then Ronnie died, and nothing more would be done here. How much was actually recorded for the Magica II/III albums beyond this I’m not sure. But this completed studio track is a very cool inclusion. It was previously released on a box set that the Dio website sold exclusively there called “Tournado”, but that was hyper limited edition, so this wider release is a better chance to get at this track.
- Metal Will Never Die – Now this one is probably the most interesting track on the album. Why? Because it’s supposedly the final song that Ronnie EVER recorded before he died. One of Ronnie’s old friends and bandmates from WAY back was David “Rock” Feinstein. Ronnie recorded this song as a favor for him, and it turned out to be legendary because if it’s status as “last”. The track was originally released on the album “Bitten by the Beast” in 2010. While that was put out by Niji, I’d wager the majority of fans never heard the track. This will probably be a bit more widespread than that, so hopefully it will get some attention for David’s album.
The remainder of the tracks all appeared on some other Dio album between 1996 and 2004. There’s a ton of good stuff on there. The liner notes on the CD have a page with a story by Eddie Trunk about these latter tracks, and he shares the same opinion as me. Lots of good, mostly overlooked material here.
Normally I don’t advocate compilations a whole lot. Your hardcore Dio fan will likely have most of these tracks anyway. But if you’re someone who never checked out the Dio material after the first few albums in the 80’s, or are interested in the three tracks I highlighted above, I urge you to check this out when it comes out on October 9th. I have some ordering links below, so please check out the disc.
- Amazon.com (US) CD
- Amazon.com (US) MP3
- iTunes US (not available yet)
- Amazon.co.uk (UK) CD
- Amazon.co.uk (UK) MP3
- iTunes UK (not available yet)
- Dio Webstore
After I posted this review, I got asked a few questions from fans. I asked my contact at Wendy’s office, and here’s the updates..
Question: Were these tracks remastered?
The answer I was given was that Ronnie’s long time engineer Wyn Davis remastered the tracks. I then inquired as if all the tracks were remastered, as it didn’t strike me that a recent track like Electra wouldn’t need remastering. They said they’d look into that for me, and get back with details as to what exactly was remastered, as “some tracks may not have needed any remastering”.
UPDATE 2: Heard from Wyn about this issue, and he said “All the tracks underwent some changes. Some more than others.”
Question: What about additional Japanese tracks like “God Hates Heavy Metal” from Angry Machines and “Annica” from Magica?
The answer I was given was (and I quote)… “There was only so many tracks the we had room for. We may possibly use those in the near future!”