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Tales from the bargain bin (part 4) - 55%

hells_unicorn, April 22nd, 2009

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.