Dio – Holy Diver

The Little Big Man of Rock 'n' Roll, .....the Mighty Midget of Rock 'n' Roll, .....he has even been dubbed "The King Of Rock 'N' Roll," apparently in accordance with his song of the same name. One thing is definite - Ronnie James Dio is "of rock 'n' roll." He was born and raised in the roots of the genre, and has flourished within the splendor of its many generations. Starting out in the late 50's with small time bands like The Vegas Kings and Ronnie And The Red Caps, he eventually found his way to a small taste of success in the early 70's with Elf. But it wasn't until 1975 that Dio would cement his place among the legends. Rainbow, led by ex-Deep Purple guitarist Ritchie Blackmore, was the perfect fit for the towering vocal abilities that Dio possessed. With many of the band's songs dealing with medieval castles, mythology, and fantasy, Ronnie came across as the force that would storm the castle and carry the hero through to victory. After Rainbow, Dio joined the ranks of the greatest heavy metal band of all time, Black Sabbath. He cut two amazing records with the band in the 80's, and a somewhat drab album with them in the 90's. In between his two stints with Sabbath, and up until this day, Ronnie James Dio has fronted the band that bears his name. "Holy Diver" was the stunning beginning to the legacy we've come to know as Dio.

This is a classic hard rock record that fires on all cylinders through each and every track. With the rousing opening cut, "Stand Up And Shout," we're thrown head first into heavy metal heaven. A blazing riff from the incredible Vivian Campbell, and a thunderous rhythm section courtesy of ex-Rainbow bandmate and bassist Jimmy Bain and drummer Vinny Appice. "Stand Up And Shout" is a blast that makes the heart beat faster and keeps you wanting more. And, speaking of more, we get the eeriness of the title track delivered next. A galloping rhythm section and brilliant lyrics highlight this masterpiece. The record continues to thrill and dazzle. "Gypsy" returns us to the "Stand Up And Shout" pace, "Shame On The Night" gives us a dark and haunting vibe, while "Caught In The Middle" introduces us to a more melodic side of the band. It's all here in a beautiful ambient setting set off by the signature Dio songwriting style. We saw it early on in the record with the title track, and we get it again and again from tracks like "Don't Talk To Strangers," "Straight Through The Heart," and "Rainbow In The Dark." These are all songs that bring our fearless singing warrior to enviable heights. Dio goes to areas where most singers only dream about. The passion and overwhelming strength is, in itself, stuff of legend; but it's the accenting, and the ability to turn a word or phrase into something magical that makes Ronnie James Dio a gift to the rock world. Not too many do it quite like Mr. Dio.

Now, Ronnie has played with many legendary musicians in his time, most notably Ritchie Blackmore, Tony Iommi, and Geezer Butler, but it is Vivian Campbell who accompanies Dio to the peak of the mountain here. Just listen to his powerful fretwork on tracks like "Invisible" and "Rainbow In The Dark." There are so many memorable measures of excellence served up from Campbell on this record it would be impossible to name all of them. He and Dio sound as if they are forged together as one here, and they are striving for the same feelings from the songs. That's a rare thing called chemistry that is very difficult to achieve, especially to this degree. And, what makes this one of the greatest hard rock albums of all time, is the chemistry between all of the band members. Bain and Appice are in perfect unison with each other and their other bandmates as well. This was a perfectly tuned rock and roll machine that stamped out one of the best records ever made.