Dio-Dream Evil, 1987
I remember going to the record store in the summer of 1987 and I had enough money to buy only one cassette. I saw a stack of the recently released Dio's Dream Evil sitting there and considered it, but ultimately went with Running Wild's Under Jolly Roger instead. Yet as I was paying for it I asked the clerk if the new Dio was any good. She laughed and said "Yes, but it was strange that lots of people had been asking about the new Dio, but then bought something else". Not long after that I saw the videos for "I could have been a dreamer" and "All the fools sailed away". I was a little less than impressed by these songs and still avoided the album. It probably wasn't until early 1988 that I met someone who actually owned it. When I heard I was surprised because the two video songs were not representative of the whole album. Guitarist Craig Goldie had replaced Vivian Campbell back in 1986. He had actually played on part of the Sacred Heart tour and recorded the track "Time to burn" for the Intermission ep in '86. One thing I always liked about Dio (the person) is that I think he has let his guitarist put some of their own style into the songs. Craig Goldie certainly gets to do that here and the result is one of Dio's more energetic albums. Let's face it, Ronnie's vocals are always on so how good a Dio album is depends on how good the music is. Fortunately most of the music here is almost as good as the vocals. The title track, "Sunset Superman"and "Naked in the rain" are all strong tracks somewhat similar to material from the Holy Diver and The last in line albums. I think "Naked in the rain", "Faces in the window", "When a woman cries" and the superb "Overlove" are all even better. Those last four are very enthusiastic and help this album to be better than the slightly stale "Sacred Heart" that was released in 1985. I have come to terms with "I could have been a dreamer" because now I think it's decent but a step back from the other tracks I listed above. However, I really can't take "All the fools sailed away" as it is very dull and at seven plus minutes is just hard to take. Overall I think that this is the third best album of Dio solo career behind "Holy Diver" and "The last in line". Yet I think this was the beginning of a slide in popularity for Dio. Last week we reviewed Whitesnake's self titled album and it's album whose popularity was largely made by releasing the right singles. Dio's Dream Evil might be a good example of an album that was hurt by it's singles. Neither "I could have been a dreamer" of "All the fools sailed away" rock and I don't think either one drew people in. I also think 1987 was a time when commercial hard rock and speed metal were both increasing in popularity. These were like the polar ends of metal and bands in the middle like Dio who were big just two or three years earlier were seeing fans follow younger bands. In the U.S. "The Last in line" charted at position 24 in 1984, "Sacred Heart" charted at position 29 and "Dream Evil" charted at position 43. So it was a significant drop in popularity. Still it's a really fine album that stands up pretty well and I enjoy listening to it today.
***Now remember it's March Metal Madness so go check out the reviews of this album over at Hard rock hideout , Heavy metal addiction and Pulses, verses and other flotsam. Join us next week as we take on Testament's debut "The Legacy".