The band changed. There was no one left except for Ronnie James Dio. 18 year old guitar wiz, Rowan Robertson was on guitars, Jens Johansson on keys, Teddy Cook on bass and Simon Wright on drums who left his AC/DC gig that he held from 1983 to 1989 to join.
Actually Robertson was only 17 when Dio announced to the world that he was the new guitarist in July 1989 after more than 5,000 guitarist submitted audition tapes.
“I saw an item in Kerrang! about Craig Goldie leaving Dio, so I knew they needed a guitarist. I sent in a tape just for the hell of it, you know, not expecting much, but figuring I had nothing to lose.
I was 16, learnt to play guitar in my bedroom by banging around to Bad Company records and the only stage experience I had was with a couple of pub bands that were going nowhere. I thought if I was lucky, maybe I’d get an audition”.
I was surprised to see that Jimmy Bain was out. But he was fired (along with Claude Schnell) in mid-1989 and Vinny Appice was let go two weeks before work began on the album.
The production team also changed a little bit, with Tony Platt in the producers and engineer’s chair along with Ronnie. Suddenly the sound became better thanks to Tony Platt’s engineering experience.
According to guitarist Rowan Robertson and mentioned on Wikipedia, two more songs were written and demoed for the album but left off at the decision of Wendy Dio: “Hell Wouldn’t Take Her” and “The River Between Us”. Maybe she felt the songs were too personal.
In 1990, MTV still ruled.
It was simple. You get a music video in mass rotation and watch the album go Platinum. And the Dio camp tried. They really tried.
The photos of the band had them with a bit of a tease and hairspray in their hair. They spent some decent money on a clip for “Wild One”.
And MTV still avoided Dio, who at 48 years of age was seen as a relic of the past with nothing new to offer. My Dad turned 46 that year and I saw him as old.
Also Dio’s lyrics of jesters, clowns, gypsies and rainbows had run its course for the TV station but not for the fans.
While I ignored the “Dream Evil” album when it came out in 1987, I purchased this one.
It was a tab of “Wild One” in the “Guitar School” magazine which got me interested. I was playing along to the song before I even heard it and the guitar solo was a highlight. And I was like, “man, this dude is of a similar age and he’s smoking on the guitar, I need to get practicing”.
Written by Dio and Robertson, it’s a great fast song to kick off the album and announce the new guy in town.
That Pre-Chorus, reminds me so much of Savatage.
And the lead break starts off as a blues-a-metal-thon, almost jazz fusion like. Then it goes into the super-fast tapping section. Another great way to announce the new gun slinger .
Check out the head banging outro. How can you not like it?
Lyrically, it was another “stand your ground and be who you want to be” message, although done in a very Dio way full of riddles.
Born On The Sun
A mixture of “Egypt (The Chains Are On)” and “Holy Diver” but with Rowan Robertson providing a more EVH approach to decorating simple grooves.
Check out the drumming on this.
The song is credited to Dio, Robertson, Bain and Appice. It sounds like Appice wrote the drum parts but its Wright who plays em.
You can hide in a circle
It’s a way to survive
Be another number
At least you’d be alive
Great lyrics. So much truth in the words.
Scared to be different or speak our minds because of the resistance and the blowback. Especially these days, with social media and how a point of view can blow up and suddenly we have trolls and haters all spamming our inboxes.
Written by Dio and Robertson.
The majority of stories I read when Grunge came, was how the lyrics from the Seattle bands were more deeper and darker, focusing on depression and anxiety and rooted in real life. It’s like the Seattle artists were the only artists doing stuff like that. Sort of like how the heirs to Marvin Gaye believe he was so original that they sue everyone to oblivion.
Well, heavy metal and hard rock artists did have songs dealing with isolation, loneliness, depression, conformity and being in dark places after a relationship breakdown.
How do you feel right now?
How does it feel to be alone?
My parents never asked me how I feel. These kind of emotions and questions are frowned upon when your ancestry comes from Eastern Europe.
I also grew up in life being told that angels are these all powerful beings that shine a bright light and can’t be hurt.
I suppose if you feel, you can get hurt. If you bleed, you can die. Or in the words of Schwarzenegger in “Predator”, “if it bleeds, we can kill it”.
The solo is excellent on this.
From just one album, Robertson was given a chance to do an instructional tape. His “Speed Picking” VHS tape is out there on the Net.
Between Two Hearts
Another song written by Dio and Robertson. It starts off with an acoustic arpeggio riff that reminds me of “Children Of The Sea”.
Then the slow groove kicks in, it’s almost like a blues dirge.
Check out the way Robertson plays the riffs in the second verse, combine palm muted arpeggios, diads and pedal tones.
Put on your party faces and come along
Join in the big parade
Here comes the camera
Do you look as good as your sister
Smile at the animals
They should be the ones in the cages
Turn the pages
A photo for Instagram before it was even invented.
Or a song about the paparazzi and the price of fame when we lived in a monoculture. These days, we live with many different sources informing us, and a person could be making millions from music and be walking the streets and shopping aisles with us and we wouldn’t even know.
This one is written by Dio, Robertson and Bain.
So open up your arms
Let the night time in
Say the word and it begins
I love the night. I feel the most inspired then and there was nothing better than listening to music at night, reading the lyrics and singing out aloud, like the lyrics to this song, “Night music, you’re singer and I’m the song”.
Lock Up The Wolves
Another song written by Dio, Robertson and Bain.
The sound of a clock ticking. Its normal paced. Then it picks up in speed, almost frantic like. The music is ominous, giving the listener a feeling that time is running out. By the time the distorted guitars kick in, the ticking is relentlessly fast.
And the doom feel of the song reminds me of “Sign Of The Southern Cross”.
In the houses of the holy
To the middle of the mystic sea
At the cradle of the world
Its back to his fantasy places, about wolves, screaming for sanctuary and how there is no back door to heaven, just a front door to hell. I guess we’ll meet again.
Evil On Queen Street
Written by Dio, Robertson and Cook. It’s like a 12 bar blues dirge with another killer solo by Robertson.
Walk On Water
Written by Dio, Robertson and Johansson, it reminds me of “Stand Up And Shout” but while “Stand Up And Shout” screams rebellion, “Walk On Water” tells ya to not even try because you can’t “Walk On Water”.
The lead break is guitar hero worthy.
A Dio, Robertson, Bain and Appice cut.
And when I told the truth
They were sure it was a lie
What would you do if no one believes you?
When your truth is seen as a lie.
Why Are They Watching Me
A Dio and Robertson cut.
It’s confusing lyrically, about being ready to rock and someone watching.
A Dio, Robertson and Johansson cut.
I’ve seen it from heaven and hell
I’ve seen it from the eyes of a stargazer
Great song titles to drop into a song.
Rock and roll eyes
Tell rock and roll lies
And rock and roll lies
I guess what happens in rock and roll stays in rock and roll.
“I think obviously, my defining moment is the “Lock Up the Wolves” album, and I feel very fortunate for it. It was a good album…it captured excitement and I played really well on it.”
From memory it’s Robertson’s only album.
As soon as the album was released it was met with mixed reviews. Early sales were positive in the U.S and then the album spiralled down the charts as it disappeared altogether.
But it had longevity in the European markets as Dio’s brand was still big business there. So it was no surprise that the first leg of the tour was in Europe.
And Black Sabbath was a just a phone call away, and when that call came, the “Lock Up The Wolves” band was put on ice and never re-awakened after the Sabbath gig fell apart.