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The Record Vault: Dio – Holy Diver

I got “The Last In Line” album first (on cassette) and then went back to “Holy Diver”.

Ronnie James Dio success came from hard work and a commitment to stay the course. A true lifer in the music business.

Check out his release schedule.

Elf’s self-titled debut was released in 1972, “Carolina Country Ball” in 74 and “Trying To Burn The Sun” in 75.

Also in 1975, Ritchie Blackmore’s “Rainbow” was released, “Rising” in 76, “On Stage” in 77 and “Long Live Rock N Roll” in 78.

With Black Sabbath, “Heaven and Hell” came out in 1980, “Mob Rules” in 81 and “Live At Last” in 82.

By 1983, the “Holy Diver” release would be his 11th album in 11 years. An album I have on vinyl and CD.

And it’s funny how artists today are complaining that streaming services are forcing em to release more albums frequently but that’s how it was done, especially prior to MTV.

The band that Dio assembled involved some experienced players in Jimmy Bain on bass and Vinnie Appice on drums and an unknown youngster called Vivian Campbell on guitar, who was recommended to Dio by Bain after he saw Campbell tearing up the stage with Sweet Savage, his NWOBHM band that was struggling to get a record deal. Their song “Killing Time” would become another Metallica cover, used as a B side for one of the Black album singles.

Jake E Lee also auditioned but he missed out, only to get the Ozzy gig soon after.

Stand Up And Shout

You’ve got the power, stand up and shout

The opening song and it’s a call to arms right off the bat.

Written before Vivian Campbell joined the band, the opening riff has appeared in a lot of songs. I did a post called “The One Riff To Rule Them All”.

It’s fast and energetic.

Lyrically the song deals with breaking away from conformity.  It was the same theme that Twisted Sister sold millions of albums on.

It’s the same old song
You gotta be somewhere at sometime
And they’ll never let you fly

The mysterious “they” could be your teachers, employers, leaders, mortgage brokers or some other entity/establishment holding you back.

You are the driver
You own the road
You are the fire — go on, explode

Damn right, we are our own driver but how many can truly say we made decisions without any influence from others.

Holy Diver

The lead single, sitting at 130.6 million streams on Spotify.

It’s “Heaven And Hell” re-cut in a new way.

How good is that groove from Appice and Bain under the iconic riff?

Vocally, Dio is fantastic and the guitar solo from Campbell is shredalicious.

Foo Fighters used it in the pre-chorus of their song “Something From Nothing”.

Gypsy

“LA Connection” comes to mind.

And the solo from Campbell is a standout.

Caught In The Middle

As soon as the opening chords ring out I was all in.

Looking inside of yourself
You might see someone you don’t know
Maybe it’s just what you need
Letting the river in you flow

And the song goes verse and pre, then verse and pre, so when the Chorus comes in it’s well worth the wait.

You’re caught in the middle
Just like the way you’ve always been
Caught in the middle
Helpless again

And how good is Dio’s ad-libing in the outro.

Don’t Talk To Strangers

The acoustic Intro. It’s enough for me to like it.

And the song percolates for a minute before the speed metal riff kicks in. If that fast riff sounds familiar, it should as they reused it again for “We Rock”.

This style of songwriting would also be used to perfection with “The Last In Line”.

The lead break is one of my favorites. It goes on for a while but I wanted it to go on longer.

And the song is then back to the acoustic intro before the speed metal “We Rock” riff kicks in to close it out.

Straight Through The Heart

I like the groove on this and the lead break from Campbell is another killer, especially towards the end of it when he harmonizes.

Invisible

A rewrite of “Straight Through The Heart”.

It wasn’t doing anything for me and then at 2.28, this Heaven and Hell like groove kicked in and Campbell is soloing over it and I’m playing air guitar to it and head banging.

Rainbow In The Dark

Sitting at 107.7 million streams on Spotify.

“Holy Diver” and “Stand Up And Shout” warmed up the fan base but it was “Rainbow In The Dark” that mobilised them and sealed the deal.

Dio is using the term rainbow as an analogy for a “light” in the dark.

Shame On The Night

The song is like “Sign of The Southern Cross”.

But it’s the ascending outro that rocks. I’m ready to take up arms and go to war.

This album unleased a new guitar hero in Vivian Campbell. But he would go on to leave the band bitterly. Only to join Whitesnake as a touring guitarist, then leave when David Coverdale told him he only wanted to write with Adrian Vandenberg, to Shadow King and then Riverdogs, before grabbing the Def Leppard gig in the 90’s.

Dio also knew how long an album should be.

“Heaven And Hell” is 39 minutes long and “Mob Rules” is 40 minutes. “Holy Diver” is at 42 minutes.

You don’t need 60 to 90 minutes’ worth of new music to be released at one time every two to three years. People don’t have spare hours. They have spare minutes. Release 30 to 40 minutes of new music on a frequent basis.

And Ronnie James Dio did exactly just that.

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