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This 2 disc compilation is the first collection that covers nearly his entire career from his time with Elf, through Rainbow, through Black Sabbath, through Dio (band) to his last days with Heaven & Hell (Black Sabbath). Rhino's decent 2 Disc "Stand Up And Shout: The Anthology" stopped short at his final Warner Brothers LP ("Strange Highways) but is a better overall (but still flawed) set since there's some glaring omissions on "Mightier Than The Sword" that were logically included on the Rhino set ("The Last In Line" being the most shocking). Only those not familiar with all the albums Dio was involved with will be pleased with this sampler. It does give a more comprehensive portrait of the man's career but it simply is not possible to fit all the essential tracks from Elf to H & H on two discs (not even three could cut it). It earns a point for including one track from his guest work on Roger Glover's "The Butterfly Ball & The Grasshopper's Feast" ("Love Is All") , which was ignored by the Rhino set but loses more points for omitting the most popular Rainbow track ("The Man On The Silver Mountain") and some essential Dio band tracks ("Stand Up And Shout", "The Last In Line", "Hungry For Heaven", "Dream Evil", "Lock Up The Wolves", etc.. Now, being that there was limited space only the absence of "The Last In Line" is completely unforgivable. They chose only "We Rock" from the "The Last In Line" album instead but since the disc clocks in at only 69+ minutes space was left for atleast one more track and "The Last In Line" is a no brainer!)
Elf was not a metal band but a boogie-woogie blues rock band so not much is needed despite three full albums being recorded by the group. It's not who Dio became and not what made him famous. Only "Carolina Country Ball" from the LP of the same name represents Elf of the 27 tracks offered here. After The Glover track that follows comes the Rainbow years- represented by a surprising 8 tracks. While the great "Stargazer", "Catch The Rainbow" & "Run With The Wolf" are here where is "The Man On The Silver Mountain" for crying out loud?!
The first two Black Sabbath stint is represented by six tracks ("Heaven & Hell", "The Mob Rules", "Children Of The Sea", "Voodoo", "Die Young" & "Country Girl"). This is acceptable even though "Die Young" & "Country Girl" could have been replaced with "The Sign Of The Southern Cross" & "Turn Up The Night" and made it slightly better. There's nothing from the infamous "Live Evil" set but "Neon Nights" appears later being the live version from Heaven & Hell's 2007 tour and subsequent album/DVD "Live From The Radio City Music Hall".
Next up is the Dio band years. Not including the weak live EP "Intermission" Ronnie's namesake band released five albums before Ronnie rejoined Black Sabbath. Those five Dio albums are represented by a paltry five tracks. Two from "Holy Diver" (title track, "Rainbow In The Dark"). one from "The Last In Line" ("We Rock"), one from "Sacred Heart" ("Rock And Roll Children"), one from "Dream Evil" ("All The Fools Sailed Away") and nothing from "Lock Up The Wolves". Now while all five of these tracks belong here more tracks from these albums should have been chosen in place of too many Rainbow tracks (based on the premise something would have to be cut to make room).
The Black Sabbath reunion LP "Dehumanizer" is represented by "I" (not a bad choice even though "Computer God" is better) and then three more Dio band albums are completely ignored (yep, nothing at all from "Strange Highways", "Angry Machines" & "Magica") as the collection jumps to 2002's "Push" from the album "Killing The Dragon" followed by "One More For The Road" from the LP "Master Of The Moon". While these were the logical choices for the "KTD" & MOTM" albums "Magica" deserved at least one track here (such as "Fever Dreams") instead of "Shadow Of The Wind", one of three tracks recorded by H&H for the "Black Sabbath: The Dio Years" compilation. Then comes the aforementioned live "Neon Knights", the penultimate track before we get to the fantastic final cut, "Bible Black". It was the best pick from an overall great album by Heaven & Hell, entitled "The Devil You Know" in 2009- one year prior to Ronnie James Dio's death.
The first lesson is that you shouldn't try to cram onto two discs a career that consisted of over 20 studio albums, many live albums and guest appearances. The second is that if you're gonna try find someone hip who will narrow it down to the bare essentials. Sometimes they got it right ("Stargazer", "Heaven & Hell", "The Mob Rules", "Holy Diver", "Rock And Roll Children", "Push" & "Bible Black) and often they got it wrong (leaving off "Man On The Silver Mountain", having too many Rainbow tracks, the omission of "The Last In Line", "Hungry For Heaven" and nothing at all from four Dio albums: "Lock Up The Wolves", "Strange Highways", "Angry Machines" & "Magica").
All in all. Another incomplete "best of" comp that will have a short shelf life until someone does it right with a four disc box set.