Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

Lock Up The Wolves

A ticking clock sounds in the distance.

Suddenly it starts to get more pronounced as the speed starts to increase.

It’s time for something to happen but what.

Then a syncopated guitar, drums and bass riff kicks in. And there is a pause. It happens again. And another pause.

And that my friends is how “Lock Up The Wolves” starts off. This song, doesn’t get the notice it should.

It’s 1990 and after going through thousands of guitar tapes, Dio settled on unknown guitarist Rowan Robertson and dropped this beauty on a record buying public that became slaves to MTV and slick anthems.

So it’s no surprise, this release doesn’t get the notice it should. Maybe because it was up against “Painkiller” from Judas Priest and “Rust In Peace” From Megadeth for people’s Metal attention. Maybe because MTV kept playing his older stuff over the newer stuff.

Maybe Dio fans expected more. As a solo artist, Dio delivered four huge albums and when you combine the Sabbath and Rainbow albums to that list, you can see it’s a brilliant body of work, spanning 14 years.

I always wondered what the song is about. And the way Dio writes is always open to interpretation. It’s written by Dio, Rowan Robertson and Jimmy Bain. But bass on the album is played by Teddy Cook.

At first I thought it was about the inner struggles people have and to not let those inner Wolves get the better of you.

But the Wolves can be politicians, bad people, drugs/addictions or any other dangers in your life. There is a lyric line which states;

Don’t you let em get away

Lock up the Wolves before you play or it’s over

Because if you do, there is only a front door to hell waiting for you.

To me this song is a masterpiece. The riff is simple and effective. The lead break is bluesy and full of emotion. Simon Wright holds a dirgy tempo on the drums as good as Ward and the Appice brothers. Teddy Cook grinds away on the bass recreating Bain’s parts.

If you haven’t checked it out, do so. YouTube has various videos with combined view counts over 2 million. Spotify has it. It’s one of Dio’s best but

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8 thoughts on “Lock Up The Wolves

  1. Great call on this track!
    I bought this pretty much when it came out(on cassette ) as I wanted to hear for myself the kid that was 2 years younger than me at the time who was playing with DIO!
    Plus the fact that Dio always had associated with himself with great Axe-Men!
    You need that opening track to grab yer attention right away.This song did just that…

  2. Henrik says:

    I bought it on CD right after it was released in Finland. A huge disappointment considering previous albums, though Dream Evil was an indication what was to come in later years of RJD’s career. in retrospect, It’s much better than it felt back in 1987.

    Anyway, revisited Lock Up the Wolves hoping it to be unsung hero. It’s not bad album, comprising of some really good tunes, but on the other hand… too many fillers, staring from the opening track. I would give 3/5 but given quality of preceding material RJD has released it’s 2.5/5.

    Thanks for the excellent reviews and well written posts. It’s always a highlight of my working day when I boot up and open inbox to see a new e-mail from this very website/blog.

  3. Henrik says:

    Indeed, it was a sign of times and sadly one of the last decent old skool metal albums for years to come. And you are right, RiP and Painkiller kind of devalued it. Year 1991 was also OK, thanks to Armored Saint, Skid Row, and Van Halen.

  4. Ken Taylor says:

    Love Dio, I have tried a few times to get into this album, and will try again tonight. These days its hard to go past the double Donington lives albums they are brilliant and hearing the twist he puts on the same songs and also the two different guitarist take on the songs.

  5. Ken Taylor says:

    Good work I hope you like them, Vivian was/is an amazing guitarist, just listen to his pinch harmonics on the live album, very tasteful and gives Zakk a run for his money, also check out his solo album Heavy Crown, very solid with some killer tracks

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