A to Z of Making It, Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Derivative Works, Influenced, Music, Unsung Heroes

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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A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories

The Great Gatsby and Iron Man 3 and the Lessons They Can Teach

I watched The Great Gatsby on Saturday with my wife and on Sunday, I took the boys to watch Iron Man 3. So what, you say, who cares. I agree. Who cares? This post isn’t about the movies, nor is it a review of the movies. It is about what we music lovers can learn from the movies.

What can The Great Gatsby teach us music lovers? From the storyline, nothing. However, from looking at the story of it’s creator, we can learn a great lot.

The author Scott Fitzgerald, started planning the novel in 1923. He was coming off the commercial success of his two previous novels, This Side of Paradise and The Beautiful and Damned. The book is released in 1925 and it sells poorly. In 1940, Fitzgerald died, seeing himself as a failure and believing his work is forgotten. At the time of his death, The Great Gatsby had sold only 25,000 copies. Today, The Great Gatsby has sold over 25 million copies worldwide and it still sells 500,000 copies annually.

So let’s just say that you are musical creator, either in a band or as a solo artist. You release an album and start to have some success, generating a buzz around you. You release another album, and the buzz starts getting louder. You spend a long time creating your next masterpiece. You then release what you believe to be your magnum opus and the silence is deafening. The buzz starts to dwindle. It doesn’t sell as well as you expected. It doesn’t sell anywhere near the numbers the marketing firm focus group predicted. You believe that you are failure.

Are you really a failure? Is Scott Fitzgerald really a failure? Fitzgerald died believing he was.

Comparing yourself to the instant hit wannabe’s is wrong. Yes, some people can strike gold on the first dig, others, will need to dig a little longer and in more than one place. Persistence is what builds a career. If you want to be around for a long time, doing what you love, you need to persevere. Luck and timing also play a big part in the grand scheme of things. If you create something great, people will find it. That greatness that you create could be something that is so evolved and so out there, that people just fail to understand it right now. Eventually that audience will find it.

Another point to consider here, is that after the failure of The Great Gatsby to sell the numbers that Fitzgerald wanted, Fitzgerald started to focus on short stories as a means to an income. It is in this format, that he made the most of his monies. So instead of focussing on the big novel (the album), he moved onto short stories (great songs), which meant, that he released more content frequently. So instead of spending two years writing a novel, he wrote more frequently, releasing more frequently, while still focussing on the great novel as well. Fitzgerald went on to release another novel while he was alive, and one more was released after his death. However the monies he made came from short stories.

As a musical creator today, that is what you need to be doing. The album format, is still a good statement, however it needs to have quality all around it. Having four great songs and seven fillers, is unacceptable in today’s world. Also being out of the public eye for such a long time, is a bad idea in today’s world. To be relevant, you need to be releasing quality and the fans need to be spreading the word. They are the ones that steer the ship these days. The fans own you. They are the shareholders that the band needs to please and satisfy.

Moving on, both movies combined have earned $1.5 billion in box office takings. That is $1.2 billion to Iron Man 3 and $300 million to The Great Gatsby.

So what can we rock / metal heads learn from Iron Man 3?

So the character, Iron Man, had two of his own movies, Iron Man 1 and then Iron Man 2. Both movies were hits. He then went on to join the supergroup, The Avengers and had another hit movie. So he is back to his own movie, and scores another hit.

So let’s just say that the Iron Man 1 and 2 movie releases are album releases from an artist. The artist already has two hits under their belt. The artist then goes on to become a part of a super group project (think the Avengers movie). The artist then has another hit, bigger than the other two combined. Said artist returns to their solo career or band and they release album number 3, that also makes a lot of money.

Let’s use Ronnie James Dio as an example. He was in Elf. He was in Rainbow and released two albums (Iron Man 1 and Iron Man 2). He was then asked to join Black Sabbath (Avengers). Think of this project as the SUPERGROUP. Dio then goes solo, and see’s even more success with Holy Diver (Iron Man 3). Going back to the Scott Fitzgerald story, initially, Holy Diver, didn’t set the world on fire in sales on its release (like The Great Gatsby). It almost took a year to obtain Gold Status, and six years to obtain Platinum status. The Heaven and Hell album from Black Sabbath also followed the same time line.

In the end, it is okay as an artist to spread your wings, just ensure, that when you do, it needs to be quality 24/7. Be patient and be great.

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