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If I had to pick the one song that fully summed up the epic nature of Dio’s music, the one song that truly captured the spirit of his lyric writing genius, “The Last in Line” is most obvious choice. It takes the general idea of a slow quiet intro leading into a triumphant epic that started with Sabbath’s “Children of the Sea” and morphs it into something that is a little bit more riff happy, quite a bit more technically ambitious, and lyrically just slightly more rich in classic RJD metaphorical lingo.
The music video that accompanied it was indicative of the lack of cohesion between lyrical subject matter and video plotlines. The first impression that came to me when I read the words was a group of brave yet desperate warriors off to some mystic who would give them a special kind of power to defeat some terrible foe. When I saw the 1984 style totalitarian society with cyborg men herding youths like cattle, Vivian Campbell ripping out the solo while providing electricity to some sort of shock treatment device that is torturing two hapless victims (an accurate image of what his playing of late does to his former fans from his Dio days), and RJD saving the day with sword in hand.
And if there was ever a song that underscored the tragedy of how Vivian Campbell’s current outlook on guitar playing is, it can be heard in this song. The guitar solo to this astounding number is an achievement above and beyond what most at that time were doing. He constantly griped on and on about how he was under pressure to write something like Malmsteen, but when you compare how many people remember Yngwie’s most famous solo “Black Star” versus how many remember this solo, it’s pressure that only existed in his own mind. I can’t watch or read interviews with Vivian anymore; I just blast out this solo and forget that a few years after this he morphed into a complete cynical asshole.
The b-side of the single I have contains “One Night in the City”, another epic classic from the same LP featuring some top quality riff work and a short, yet once again memorable solo. The lyrics tell sort of an original story of two lovers from opposite sides of the social spectrum and how they essentially abandon all that they have for each other. It’s difficult to fully ascertain the meanings of some of Dio’s songs because his metaphors can often mean 3 or 4 different things, although certain songs are more obvious than others.
This is definitely a collector’s item for the insane Dio worshipper; I managed to pick this up out of bargain bin for 50 cents a few years ago and just found it laying around. Sadly I’ve lost the album art, which is really nothing more than a different angle on the art for the “Last in Line” LP. Non-insane people, ergo people other than me, without any money to waste are advised to simply pick up that full length album and be thankful for it.