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Dio has made a habit of constructing simple songs with a sort of subtle charm to them, many of them involving lyrics about personal struggle, non-conformity and individualism. “I Could Have Been A Dreamer” takes a less specific route than its equivalent on the previous album “Rock N’ Roll Children” and talks through a universal voice that all can identify with every time society tries to push them to think or act a certain way. It was particularly after Vivian’s exodus from the band that Ronnie became a bit of a fan of using wolves as an adversarial symbol. In this case, equating society to a wolf pack mentality where individuality results in being ostracized and even exiled. The song itself is very formulaic, consisting of one driving main riff that is about as simple as they come and a chorus that is built off of two chords.
The accompanying b-sides are a bit more interesting musically, though lyrically the subjects tend to follow the same line of the individual or the minority versus the rest of society. “Night People” is cut from a similar brand of fast songs in the vain of “King Of Rock And Roll” and “Evil Eyes”, but with a more minimal riff set that draws more from a Deep Purple/Rainbow influence and has a more atmospheric keyboard aesthetic to it. “Sunset Superman” is one of the few songs from the “Dream Evil” album that seems to reach back to the Vivian Campbell approach to riffing, although Craig’s solo is much more epic and gradually developed. The keyboard intro to this is one of the most original sounding things to come out of Dio’s career, starting off with a really pristine and lovely atmospheric aesthetic before descending into something a bit darker and forbidding. It bears some similarity to the epic musical storytelling of “One Night In The City”, but is much faster and tighter.
There are still a few copies of this floating around in its original turntable form on eBay, so rabid vinyl fanatics and completists will find a home here if they so choose, but its not an essential purchase the way “Dream Evil” is. This is the most underrated era of Dio’s career as far as I’m concerned, particularly amongst the critical field. Granted, you can’t expect much musical insight out of the likes of elite music media tycoons like Rolling Stone magazine who essentially can’t get themselves out of the late 1960s. But if you like good metal music, you don’t need any sort of media outlet telling you how to think about music, so put in a copy of Dio and enjoy life and leave the cynicism to the people who still think that music is about anything else besides music.