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Ronnie James Dio, one of the most influential vocalists in the heavy metal community was first a vocalist for the band Rainbow, then for metal gods Black Sabbath, then moved on to begin his solo project, Dio, rejoined Sabbath and today plays with members of Sabbath in Heaven and Hell. He has produced some influential hits including his vocal debut in ï¿½Heaven and Hellï¿½ with Black Sabbath, the Dio debut ï¿½Holy Diverï¿½, and has given heavy metal the most enduring salute of all time, the Devil Horns. Dioï¿½s 2000 compilation, ï¿½The Very Beast of Dioï¿½, though featuring most of his greatest hits with Dio up to the year 2000, misses the mark with many of the songs. Containing a sixteen song track listing, it seems that the band ran out of hits to add to the compilation and instead threw in a group of barely passable songs but still called them the best of the best.
Dioï¿½s most notable songs, ï¿½Stand Up and Shoutï¿½, the heavy ï¿½Holy Diverï¿½, the catchy ï¿½Rainbow in the Darkï¿½, ï¿½Straight Through the Heartï¿½, and the fist pumping ï¿½We Rockï¿½ are all present, but those first five tracks on the album are the only notable songs in this compilation. After those five begins a line of mediocre songs involving very generic sixties and seventies hard rock riffing, terrible synthesizer that comes off as a shoehorned attempt to appeal to a modern eighties audience, and songs that sound more like pop music than heavy metal.
These Dio songs lose all their gusto by the end of ï¿½We Rockï¿½ and the failed beginning of ï¿½Last in Lineï¿½ making this the worst catalogue of Ronnie James Dioï¿½s solo projectï¿½s offerings Iï¿½ve ever heard. This being my first Dio album, it is especially disappointing after the amazing work he did on ï¿½Heaven and Hellï¿½ and he is doing in the band ï¿½Heaven and Hellï¿½ because from what is shown from ï¿½The Very Beast of Dioï¿½, it seems that he overestimated his talent in his solo project and ran out of ideas.
As has been suggested by many on the Metal Archives, it seems that Dioï¿½s debut, ï¿½Holy Diverï¿½ is the bandï¿½s best album, so I guess Iï¿½ll have to pick that up and leave this waste of an album to rot. Donï¿½t get suckered in like I was by the first few on the track listing, those are the only songs that you will recognize or like, everything else is commercial waste undeserving of recognition on any bandï¿½s best-of album.
This little piece of bargain bin fool’s gold was one of very few that I actually didn’t purchase at my local farmer’s market, but instead happened upon by chance at my nearest Walmart while shopping for some cheap items to keep those poor 3rd world child laborers in pocket change. Essentially when these super stores have trouble offloading their various compilation albums that nobody seems to want, they start a bin outside of the electronics section and pile the suckers in a rectangular bin with a nice little $3 a piece sign in the center. My curiosity brought me in contact with a couple of Dio compilations, of which this one was the truest to the concept of a “Best Of” collections.
Essentially this album serves the purpose that “Diamonds - The Best Of Dio” would have if it had been released in the USA. It is basically dominated by Vivian Campbell era songs, although there is a much greater concentration of “Holy Diver” and “Sacred Heart” songs, which give this album a really uneven feel if listened to straight through due to the radical shift from an aggressive form of early 80s heavy metal to a much tamer and keyboard oriented one in the mid-80s. Coupled with the fact that most of the songs selected from the latter of these two albums, along with a couple of selections from the one that preceded and the one that followed it such as “I Could Have Been A Dreamer” and “Mystery”, this album is definitely tilted in a commercial direction.
Now, a commercial direction works quite well if you’re goal is a best of album, but then we have to account for the token songs from the 1990s “Lock Up The Wolves” and “Strange Highways”, which are pretty dark and morbid sounding in comparison to the bulk of this album’s contents. The cognitive dissonance that would result from a newcomer to Dio hearing this album is sure to be pretty strong, which leaves on wondering if maybe the purpose of this is to appeal to fans of the band who might be looking for a rarity or two. Unfortunately, all we are given is the live performance of “Man On The Silver Mountain” off the “Intermission’ EP that was the first to feature Craig Goldie. It’s a pretty interesting reinterpretation of the song, being much faster in tempo than the original Rainbow version, but aside from some wilder soloing, isn’t terribly different. If maybe they’d put in something like “Hide In The Rainbow” or “Time To Burn”, which never made it onto any of the first 4 albums, it would be more worthy of a purchase.
Ultimately the only thing that is really great about this if you look at it from the standpoint of it being introductory material for Dio newcomers is the booklet insert. It’s loaded with information about how each of these songs came about and elucidates the nature of this band’s glory days in the 80s quite well. This might be worth getting if you can find it at the low as hell price I found it at and if you don’t yet have the money to start investing in the band’s studio offerings yet, but there are better compilations out there that give you much more bang for your buck, especially if you want to learn more about the band beyond their most mainstream of releases.
Originally submitted to (www.metal-observer.com) on April 22, 2009.
Here is a band or a man in this case, who has had up to this point a long career of varying greatness, but most certainly sucess. What comes with sucess and careers of 10 plus years? Best of Albums! Here is Dio's attemp of a best of album that had some sort of desirabilty to buy and also put some cash in Ronnie's pocket. Well this will put cash in Ronnie's pocket since it adaquitly chronicles his career fairly, representing each album equally (resonably). Making this appealing for people who want a taste of the geezer midget Dio.
This compilation's greatest strength is also its greatest weakness. That statement sounds like a load of crap, but its most certainly true. Best of albums that are done in the style of this one are made to represent a bands career with their best songs. They appeal to people who want to know what the band sounds like but who can't download their songs or borrow records, so the option of buying a best of that has songs from the band's entire discography is a great alternative or solution. This album definatly appeals to that type of metal head. It meets the criterea of having the entire dicography chronicled appropriatly, taking the best tracks off each full length album. Dio does this very well on "The Very Beast Of", thus making this best of album absoluty perfect in accomplishing its goal.
This is also the albums crippling flaw. Between the tracks on this album of Dio's albums Holy Diver and Stranger in the Dark (both two great albums with great tracks from these albums on this best of record) this release is filled with the best tracks for the rest of his albums between the two mentioned. Sounds like a good thing, but even the best tracks between these albums [Last in Line and Lock Up the Wolves] range from average and boring to total garbage and wankery. The album only has songs worth listening to from Holy Diver and Strange Highways. Making the rest of the tracks worthless and not desireable to listen to after one listen.
So while this does capture the majority of dio's sound from 1983-1994, it captures alot of horrible songs as well, making this best of kinda useless. This album will get the heavy/power metal fan into dio's two good albums Holy Diver and Strange Highways, but you could of found that out by asking someone eh? Its just worth it to own those two good dio albums and leave this one on the store shelves. It does what its suppose to do, what its suppose to do sucks though.
... but there are way too many post Last in Line, forgettable and mediocre Dio tracks to justify a newbie purchase. I mean, fuck, imagine the disdain of a wayward metalhead who hears "I Could of Been a Dreamer" or "Rock'N'Roll Children" and bases his opinions on that. MOST of the classics are documented here... Last in Line, Stand Up and Shout, Straight Through the Heart. But there are some glaring omissions... particularly Caught in the Middle and Don't Talk to Strangers. Sure, that would totally skew representation towards Holy Diver, but who the hell wants to hear Strange Highways or keyboard laden crap songs that sound more like Depeche Mode than the grand wizard himself?
I'll put it point blank: everything after LiL and up to Killing the Dragon is worthless. A few standout tracks here and there (Dream Evil...) but nothing particularly good. Get Holy Diver instead! That's the REAL very beast of dio.