TOP OF THE HEAP:DIO
WB/Mercury Records 1983
Without a doubt Dio's solo debut Holy Diver is the best album he put out post-Black Sabbath.In 1982 disagreements over the mixing of Black Sabbath's Live Evil resulted in vocalist Ronnie James Dio and drummer Vinny Appice leaving the band. The two of them wanted to continue writing and performing together so Dio (the band) was born. Joined by guitar wizard Vivian Campbell and bassist/keyboardist Jimmy Bain the pair would set out the create a landmark album in the field of heavy metal. With "Stand Up And Shout" and "Holy Diver" opening the album how could you go wrong? And the album was just non-stop catchy metal. Of course "Rainbow In The Dark" would also become a huge hit. I'm almost positive "Don't Talk To Strangers" was the first Dio song I ever heard. FM radio in the eighties (at least in my little part of Ohio) had lots of classic rock stations. I was exposed to Ronnie's sound thanks to a rummage sale radio and an eagerness to listen to anything "heavy". It wouldn't be until my early teens that I heard about all the flak the album artwork caused. My parents had been on a roll with the "rock and roll is the devil's music" crusade and made me watch an anti-rock video. Having seen the album cover and how wicked it looked I was hooked. I would eventually pick the album up on LP and I still have it to this day. Thankfully I was fortunate to have seen Dio one last time a few years back before his unfortunate passing. What struck me about him was how powerful and commanding he was. On a bill that included Judas Priest, Iron Maiden and my favorite Motorhead I walked away thinking that I had seen a true legend. Holy Diver still gets routine play in my household. Even my wife appreciates a little Dio every now and then. We lost a true icon last year but albums like this will always live on in the hearts of music lovers. Even now I am willing to bet you that some kid is dusting of this classic that he found in his parents record collection and being inspired to "Stand Up And Shout" at the world. Somewhere Ronnie is looking down and smiling.
Metal Mark's pick-
I think this is the forth or fifth one of these that Andy and I have done, but the first time we have picked the same album. The first Dio album I heard was "The last in line" in 1984. Actually that was the first time I ever heard Dio's distinctive voice and I was hooked right away. A few months later I was seeking out more and got to hear his band's 1983 debut "Holy Diver". Very similar in style to "The last in line", but even better. From the the burning anthem "Stand Up and Shout" through to the powerful "Shame on the night" this is a classic where every song. The band was amazing on this one, but as always the major focus is on Ronnie's vocals and he delivers on every note. "Rainbow in the dark" and "Holy Diver" staples on the radio and MTV back in the day. Both were songs that I never got tired of. Other favorites for me from this album are the haunting "Don't talk to strangers", the headbanging "Straight through the heart" and the all too overlooked "Caught in the middle". Ronnie was stuck on dragons, wishing wells and evil woman for a long time, but his talent and consistancy always shown through to the end. He spent decades giving his all in whatever project he was in and always seemed to really appreciate the fans and the opportunities that he had. He was a true hero in his field and we are glad he left us with so many fine albums including the mighty "Holy Diver".
***What is your favorite Dio album?