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A victim of it's time. - 74%

hells_unicorn, January 17th, 2007

One aspect of the live CD that is often ignored is it's function as a testimonial to the artist's ability to put on a great show. It is not a substitute for being at the concert, nor does it contain the visual aspect that a DVD would, but it is a piece of history preserved for the sake of those who could not view the tour in question. In the field of putting on a great show, Dio has never waivered, even as he enters his 60s he is still going on as strong as ever.

However, even the greatest of performances can be tainted if the play itself is not of the highest caliber, and here lies the flaw in this album. This is taken from the trough of Dio's fall from significance in the realm of music (before the resurgence that occurred with Magica's release), the Angry Machines tour. As such, we have two tracks from Dio's weakest release, accompanied by an overloaded collection of early work from the first 2 studio albums and Ronnie's past work with Rainbow.

Although all parties in question perform well, the lack of anything new or fresh on here is quite disappointing, though not unexpected. If you replaced the Angry Machines songs and "Jesus, Mary and the Holy Ghost" with songs from the Sacred Heart album, you would have the exact same set list that can be found on the Sacred Heart video. All of this screams out a single message, Dio is considered a has been and thus is limited to playing only the classics.

One advantage to this CD, however, is that because of Tracey G's radically different approach to soloing and his highly dark sound we get a radically different take on many of the older Dio material. "Holy Diver" and "Heaven and Hell" sound much more doom oriented than on any other live compilation containing these classics. "The Last in Line" has a more agitated sounding solo, probably because it's a difficult solo to pull off so Tracey retailored it to fit his own style.

Out of all the material covered on here, the material off the "Holy Diver" and "Last in Line" albums are the strongest. The two best songs on here are "Straight through the Heart" and "We Rock". By contrast, the Rainbow material and "Heaven and Hell" are performed quite poorly. "Man on the Silver Mountain" is played way too damn fast, and up until Doug Aldrich joined the band for the Killing the Dragon tour, they never lived up to the dramatic studio version of Heaven and Hell.

The newer stuff is a mixed bag, owing mainly to inconsistencies between the 2 albums that Tracey G had played on before hand. "Jesus, Mary, and the Holy Ghost" is a stand up performance, well worthy of being the opener of the show. "Double Monday" is not bad, it's one of the less disjointed and confused songs off of Angry Machines. "Hunter of the Heart" is an utter bore fest, owing completely to it just being a lousy song. You could have Tony Iommi play this song and it would still suck.

In conclusion, I can't really give this live album a strong recommendation because of the large number of alternatives out there, particularly in the video format. The release onto DVD of footage from the tours of the first two albums would be preferrable to this, although more recent fans of Dio should probably pick up "Evil or Divine" on DVD. This CD may find a home with core Dio fans who liked Tracey G's playing style, but it's recommended audience is not large by any standard.