Dio's re-issue of his debut masterpiece shamefully got overlooked by us reviewers at MetalTalk headquarters, simply because we were too busy throwing devil horns in the air whilst listening to it that one forgot to put pen to paper. This is such a timeless classic that belongs in any right thinking Metal fan's collection and is well worthy of your investigation if you already haven't done so.
This was the album where Ronnie James Dio, the little man with the big voice, could stand up and shout on his own merits. After first making a name for himself fronting the band Elf, it was Ritchie Blackmore who brought the vocalist to the world's attention by inviting him to join his new band Rainbow after Blackmore had decided he had had enough of Deep Purple.
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Dio sang on three albums for Rainbow between 1975-78 with 'Rainbow Rising' being hailed as the pioneer for neo-classical rock. With Blackmore wanting to push Rainbow into a more commercial route a golden opportunity arose for Dio to join Black Sabbath after they had had enough of Ozzy Osbourne's antics.
Released in 1980 'Heaven And Hell' alienated some Sabbath fans at first but went on to be one of Black Sabbath's most successful albums, paving a new direction for the band closely followed by 'Mob Rules' a year later.
However during the mixing of the live double album 'Live Evil' things started to turn drastically sour between original members Tony Iommi and Geezer Butler who accused Ronnie James Dio of entering the studio during the night and turning up the volume for his vocals and that of the drumming by Vinnie Appice, which resulted in Dio leaving Sabbath and taking Appice with him.
So in late 82 Dio went about forming a new band, calling in his old buddy from his time in Rainbow, Scotsman Jimmy Bain, to join on bass. Completing the line up was Jake E Lee who only stayed around for the demo process but ironically jumped ship to replace the sadly departed Randy Rhoads in Ozzy Osbourne's band in time to record 'Bark At The Moon'. Lee claims he wrote the main riff for 'Don't Talk To Strangers' for these sessions and it is very familiar to the riff he used for the 'Bark At The Moon' title track.
Dio's greatest find to replace Lee was in young Vivian Campbell from the Northern Ireland NWOBHM band Sweet Savage. Campbell was later tamed in Def Leppard.
Together, as a unit, the chemistry between the four was an explosion of Heavy Metal with sparks flying from every direction. With Dio's rip roaring lung breaking vocals, Campbell's Metal on Metal screeching licks and a very solid rhythm from Bain and Appice who never sounded better than on this album.
The few keyboards that were added were done by Dio and Bain with German Claude Schnell joining the band for the tour.
Released in May 83 'Holy Diver' gained immense critical acclaim and the fans soon followed suit keeping the album in the British charts for almost four months with the American market picking up on the album after MTV routinely played the commercial sounding video for 'Rainbow In The Dark'.
The album is a ballsy loud 'n proud exponent of Heavy Metal at it's very finest, full of classics from start to finish.
Opener 'Stand Up And Shout' rips your speakers apart while the title track 'Holy Diver' has gone on to be a classic in it's own right. 'Don't Talk To Strangers' was an all time favourite track from the much missed and loveable Radio 1 DJ Alan 'Fluff' Freeman.
When CD's were first brought onto the market 'Holy Diver' was the first ever CD that I bought and I still own it to this day.
This album is a masterpiece of work and is very much text book Metal for future generations to learn from.
With this deluxe re-issue comes a bonus disc which includes 'Evil Eyes', originally released on the B-side of the 'Holy Diver' single and is far superior to the re-recorded version that appeared on the follow up album 'The Last In Line' and as far as I'm aware it is the first time it has been available on CD worldwide.
There are live recordings of 'Stand Up And Shout' and 'Straight Through The Heart'. These were recorded at Castle Donington and were originally on the B-side of the twelve inch single of 'Rainbow In The Dark'. Plus there are some tracks that first appeared on the King Biscuit Flower Hour in the US but were actually recorded on the opening night of the British Tour at the Manchester Apollo.
With informative sleeve notes from Malcolm Dome, this is the definitive version to have.
Ronnie James Dio is sadly no longer with us but with work like this he will forever be immortalized in the world of Metal.
God bless Dio.
If you would like to donate to The Ronnie James Dio Stand Up And Shout Cancer Fund, you can do so by clicking here.