Dio - Holy Diver Live

Spitfire Records
Produced by Ronnie James Dio

The second live release from the ex-Rainbow and Black Sabbath front man and his solo band in as many years will no doubt please the legion of fans who think the World revolves around his debut album Holy Diver, but probably not many other people. We've all seen it, done it and bought it several times before.

Recorded in London last November on the joke that was the "Evening With Dio" tour (a tour promised to consist of three-hour shows with no support, but in reality was only the same two-hour greatest hits show we've all seen before) this release was destined not to be something special, because Dio didn't play anything special. The setlist has been slightly reworked because on the night the complete run-through of the Holy Diver album was in the middle of the set, and clearly for the release they wanted it on one disc. So, the three songs played before it have been shifted to the beginning of disc two such that disc one encapsulates the Holy Diver part. Frankly, to quote modern day youth culture: "whatever".

The sound quality is nice and clear, but the instruments (especially the drums and vocals) sound too separated from each other. Ronnie's voice is so far out front he may as well be singing kareoke. Obviously his voice is good enough that he still sounds fine, but the album as a whole suffers from not sounding like a band playing, but five individuals.

The record does have it's good points. Tarot Woman, although not the strongest Rainbow song, has never been released on a live album before, and nor has Gates of Babylon or One Night In The City. Black Sabbath's Sign of The Southern Cross is here, which is one of the best Sabbath songs with Ronnie, but it's cut short after about two-and-a-half minutes to play One Night In The City. Doug Aldrich's guitar solo is infinitely superior to the one on Evil Or Divine as well.

Apart from these different songs, and the two or three from Holy Diver not on previous live releases, we've got Man On The Silver Mountain for the sixth time (it's been on every live release Ronnie has been on except Black Sabbath's Live Evil), We Rock (again!), Heaven & Hell (again!) and Long Live Rock 'n' Roll (again!). The DVD version, due out soon, is claiming to include The Mob Rules and Die Young at the end, but for some reason, if they do exist, they're not on the CD version. I'm not sure where these are going to come from, as they weren't played that night in London.

However, it has far more negative points, and none of these come from the quality of the songs or the performance. The different songs mentioned above are still from the same albums as all the others. Once again all the material from Lock Up The Wolves, Strange Highway, new album Master of The Moon and Sabbath's excellent Dehumanizer is completely ignored. As well as no less than five other Dio albums. What this really needed was different songs. The audience bootleg of the Stockholm show from later in the tour is a much more interesting listen as it includes Voodoo and The Eyes instead of a couple of the Holy Diver tracks. Regrettably one of the missing ones is Invisible, but you can't have everything. Indeed, you can't have everything, but something would have been nice. How many times are people going to pay for the same songs over and over again? Fewer and fewer with every release, I wager. Of course, you wouldn't have had this problem if you'd played the first third of the show that we'd all paid for and made it a three-disc release, would you Ronnie?

Basically, this album should have been something new, different and special, with Holy Diver as its centre-piece, and a lot of interesting things around it. Instead, it just feels like the same thing we've already got several times over. Listeners new to Dio can't really go wrong with this, or indeed any other Dio live release, as they all include the same core of songs. Many Dio fans won't agree with this review, but that's likely to be because they can't impartially view the album. If it's got Dio's name on it then it must be great. But that is not necessarily the case, and while the music contained here is as great as it's always been, it's also the same as it's always been. I gladly admit to being as big a Dio fan as anyone, but this album, and the tour it came from, had no effort at all put into it to make it different or interesting for the Dio fans who have followed him for so long, and that makes this release a real let-down. The DVD will be better, but not much as it will offer very little that the previous Evil Or Divine DVD doesn't have, and with the inclusion of tracks from Magica and Killing The Dragon on the later, it already has the superior setlist.

“ seen it, done it ”

CD1 - Stand Up And Shout / Holy Diver / Gypsy / Caught In The Middle / Don't Talk To Strangers / Straight Through The Heart / Invisible / Rainbow In The Dark / Shame On The Night
CD2 - Tarot Woman / Sign of The Southern Cross / One Night In The City / Gates of Babylon / Heaven & Hell / Man On The Silver Mountain / Long Live Rock 'n' Roll / We Rock

Written by Andy Lye
More: 2006, Heavy Metal, Live Albums,

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