on November 9, 2010
The hole that Ronnie James Dio's passing left in the Metal realm can only be filled with the memories & the legacy of his work. Widow/manager Wendy Dio is making sure that the memory of Ronnie stays fresh in our hearts & minds. This release is proof of that. Listening to Dio live we'll make you believe in magic. A voice so powerful, yet so gracious, singing songs that are the cornerstone of Heavy Metal is what this album is all about. Two discs recorded at the Monster of Rock festival in UK in different areas of the band, this album captures the essence of the magic that is to hear Dio live.
The 1st disc was recorded in 1983 & will most likely be seen as the gem of the two discs as the band's debut album, Holy Diver, had yet to gain the status it has today. So needless to say, after leaving his mark with Rainbow & then Black Sabbath, Ronnie had a lot to loose if his venture as a solo artist would've failed. History shows that Dio did succeed & disc one demonstrate why he did. Blazing through a set list that showcase his time with Rainbow, Sabbath as well as songs from Holy Diver, Ronnie & the band delivers a solid & energetic performance.
Disc 2 was recorded in 1987. Now Dio had few albums, a lot more experience & a new guitar player in Graig Goldy who replaced Vivian Campbell who can be heard on the 1st disc. The Energy & the passion are as present as it was in 1983. Another setlist that, although lack songs from Sacred Heart, is compensated by songs from Dream Evil that we rarely got to hear live.
My only issue with this album (& a quite small issue at that) is the sound of the 1st disc. Since it was re-mastered from the original recordings, I was expecting the sound to be a bit more "crisp". But that minor detail do not deter from the fact that this is a great release that all fans will enjoy & reminisce about the phenomenal singer that was Ronnie James Dio.
Dio's death was one of the saddest days in the entire history of rock, and I say that without a trace of irony or hyperbole. For our little corner of the rock world, it was an absolute tragedy. Very rarely have ever lost someone with so much talent, and so much history.
Finally some of that history has seen the light. Doninngton UK collects two concerts. From 1983, we get a show with Vivian Campbell on guitar. From 1987, a show with Craig Goldy from the very underrated Dream Evil tour. Both shows are excellent, with nary a complaint between the two of them. Both shows contain ample Dio tunes with a smattering or Rainbow and Sabbath.
For me, my personal highlights were not a specific song, but more the tireless performances by Ronnie James Dio. If any man ever made it all sound easy, it was Dio. Plenty of power to spare, Ronnie James is the ringleader and he never faulters. He's perfect. A second highlight for me was the guitar work of Campbell and Goldy. Live Dio from this era has been scarce indeed, until now, so it was great to finally hear the first two Dio dudes rip and shred.
5 stars. As if there was any doubt.
ADDED BONUS: Two plastic backstage pass replicas included!
Ronnie James Dio left a big empty hole in metal music when he passed away on May 16th 2010. Dio had quite a unique voice, it was operatic, powerful and quite impressive and unlike some singers he had this great voice right until his death. It's hard to describe just what Dio was and represented, he was a kind and generous man who cared about his fans, the metal movement and his music. He gave a lot to metal including the famous « Devil Horns » and to say that he was a huge influence on this genre of music would be an understatement. Ronnie was a man of great talent and was truly the voice of metal (at least one of the most important and powerful ones), he left us excellent music from his solo career and all the bands he's been in. I always had huge respect for Dio and I think that this live two-discs collection « At Donnington UK : Live 1983 & 1987 » is a testament of not only his talent but of just how passionate he was about music.
The first disc is Dio's 1983 performance introducing his band to Donnington, Dio was know for his work with other bands such as Elf, Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow and Black Sabbath (later Heaven & Hell) but this was his solo debut. The lineup for this disc is : Dio (vocals), Vivian Campbell (guitars), Jimmy Bain (bass), Vinny Appice (drums) and Claude Schnell (keyboards), this often considered the best era of the band and rightfully so. Children of the Sea is fantastic, Dio's delivery of the song is wonderful.Straight Trough The Heart is impressive, the long version of Heaven & Hell is great and Holy Diver is amazing, this is a terrific live version. They also included drum and guitar solos tracks which is nice for those who are fans of all that stuff, I don't think it's particularly great but it's cool to have.
Disc two is Dio's 1987 appearance at Donnigton, there are 13 songs and the setlist here is a little different from the first disc. The lineup for disc 2 is : Dio (vocals), Craig Goldy (guitars), Jimmy Bain (bass), Vinny Appice (drums) and Claude Schnell (keyboards). The highlight for me is a very brief version of Children of the Sea (modified so it's different) leading to a short version of Holy Diver and then going into Heaven & Hell! That was quite a medley, strong energy in each progression and I simply love it and know fans will appreciate it as well. Terrific performances of Man On The Silver Mountain (amazing) and Rainbow In The Dark (great conclusion to the show and the crushing Last In The Line. To me, disc two is superior because of the sound, it sounds better than the first disc (which is still good) being much louder, clearer and therefore better.
For a double live package At Donnigton UK is a deal, I expected it to cost more (I paid mine 14.99 at HMV, CAN price). This collection comes in a digipack format and besides the music it also offers a booklet with good liner notes which I thought was a nice touch, a little short on content but good. You also get two replicas of the Donnigton tickets, one is from the 1983 concert and the other is an all access pass, cool additions I must say. I didn't know what to expect in terms of sound for these live albums honestly and the sound is pretty decent especially considering the time and the venue, it sounds better at certain places and some places less so, it's live recordings after all we're talking about. Disc two sounds better than the first. Dio's voice sounds great and the musicians are good too, it's also nice to hear Ronnie interacting with the crowd (just enough interaction in my opinion, it's neither too much or not enough).
If you're a fan of the man (and if you're reading this you probably are) you really should get those live discs, they truly are worth it. Dio himself was the executive producer of this collection which only helps the album's cause. Excellent price, two good live albums and one remarkable legend what's more to ask? If you're hesitating...well don't! Fans may be interested to know that there are going to be more Dio releases in the future like the new live Heaven& Hell album from Dio's last few concerts ( also a live DVD) and his autobiography will be released in the not to distant future. I'll give this package 5 stars because of the deal that it is but this rating also applies to an objective perspective.