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Rhino Records' "The Very Beast Of Dio" was the much needed first "best of" set in North America. It was rewarded with strong sales and became Dio's last God Certified Record (500,000 +) to date. It was a solid, but not perfect (the anemic live version "Man On The Silver Mountain" from the mini-album "Intermission" was chosen instead of the lone studio cut "Time To Burn" from that project), 16-song summation of Dio's major label years 1983-1992. While a proper 2 disc set of his Reprise albums from "Holy Diver" through "Strange Highways" is definitely called for Rhino instead released "Stand Up And Shout: Dio Anthology" in 2003, a decent but, again, flawed endeavor that tried to pack Ronnie James Dio's career from Elf, through Rainbow, through Black Sabbath with the band Dio onto 2 discs. Just not possible but a good try. The set sold poorly compared to "The Very Beast Of".
It seems unlikely Rhino will be issuing anymore Dio compilations so Ronnie & Wendy Dio's Niji Entertainment recently made a smart business decision to do it's own compilation of the Dio albums from 1996's "Angry Machines" through 2004's "Master Of The Moon" and called it "The Very Beast Of, Vol. 2".
The four studio albums and 1 live album released during this period received less distribution than the Reprise years so they are not and were not as easy to find as the major label period. In terms of quality I feel they hold up quite well to "Beast 1". Dio never made a truly bad album. Even the critically-lambasted "Angry Machines" needs to be revisited now that the dust has settled. Only two choice cuts are found here from "Machines" ("Black" & "This Is Your Life"), while a third, "Hunter Of The Heart", is the live version from "Inferno: The Last In Live". These are the best songs from the album but there's still great tracks to be found on that LP.
The next three Dio studio LPs get represented thusly: "Magica" (4 tracks: "Fever Dreams", "Feed My Head", "Lord Of The Last Day", "As Long As It's Not About Love"), "Killing The Dragon" (4 tracks: title cut, "Along Comes A Spider", "Better In The Dark", "Push") and "Master Of The Moon" (3 tracks: "The Eyes", "One More For The Road", "Shivers") and these were for the most part the best choices (the title cut to "Master Of The Moon" is a gem that I would've chosen over the generic "One More For The Road"). While more cuts from these four LPs could have been included Niji decided to fill out the compilation with some hard-to-find tracks. This is where they sort of dropped the ball.
While "Prisoner Of Paradise" (Japan-only bonus cut from "Moon"), "Metal Will Never Die" (Dio's song found on a David Feinstein's solo album "Bitten By The Beast") and the single "Electra" (from the "Tournado" box set and allegedly from the planned "Magica ll" that never happened) are all great additions they left off the ferocious "God Hates Heavy Metal" (Japan-only bonus track to "Angry Machines") and "The Code" (Dio's vocal on The Rods' CD "Vengeance"), which would have really sold this set. As it is it feels incomplete. Three out of the five recent (or 6 if you could the "Annica" instrumental from Japan-only "Magica") tracks not found on proper Dio albums, which makes this a bit messy. Personally I already had 15 of the 17 songs on here so I'm grading this set as a whole for what *IS* included. It is a "thumbs up" and essential purchase for a casual fan and Dio collector. Notice I left one group out: The longtime fans who bought all the albums.
From a marketing standpoint there's three types of potential consumers: 1) The casual fan who just wants the "greatest hits" so the bonus tracks are just more of them 2) The longtime Dio fan who bought every album but is not a "serious" collector ("completist") 3) The Dio completist who purchases every Dio release or alternate packaging because that's what "serious" collectors do.
Fan types 1 & 3 will welcome this set with no sweat but fan-type 2 might feel conflicted and and see this as a frustrating, difficult purchase. But let me ask you: Again, if you came across a bootleg cd containing three Dio tracks you don't have.... would you buy it? How much you think you would pay for it? Look, three Dio songs are worth the $10 list price (and by the way you can purchase those three songs by themselves as mp3's)
I'm a fan "type 2" and I only needed two of the tracks. Glad to have "Electra" & "Metal Will Never Die". Still. I have to deduct 5% off the rating for two reasons: 1. A full rarities set would've been a better home for the three "bonus tracks" along with the others that didn't make the cut 2. The "Magica" tracks are taken from a concept album and feel a bit awkward lumped in with the others.