Review by Rick Ossian
There are many ways a person could attack this particular review. One could start by listing the veritable myriad of stars/musicians on board just for sheer weight, or you could conversely talk about it track by track, as is the norm for myself, at least.
Then again, you could start with the Dio Disciples‘ involvement on their tracks, or the album as tribute itself. As Carl mentioned in last week’s show, this one actually has Dio on it — an admittedly sparing track, at least instrumentally — it also happens to be the title track of this adventurous disc. It is a plaintive, emotional ballad, a forum most likely rare for most Dio devotees. Yet here it is, in all it’s glory. I love the line “this is your here/this is your now/make it magical”. It is not something were accustomed to hearing from Ronnie. Normally, we are, by contrast, inundated with rock guitar, bass and drums, and even keyboards at times.
Ronnie‘s only accompaniment on this track is Scott Warren on piano/string arrangements. This is the only track on board of this nature. Everything else is, to put it quite plainly, straight forward hard rock/heavy metal.
For example, my favourite track of the batch is a torrid rendition of “Straight Through The Heart” by Halestorm. Normally I wouldn’t imagine a woman doing a Dio track, but the first time I heard Lzzy & Co. covering it, I had to take notice… it was, after all, the first track I heard from this aggregation of tunes. The reason it is my favourite is because it is not only a faithful rendering of the song — it also enhances the original, if you will. It is most likely also many other fans’ favourite, and time will tell that it will remain so. It has the stamina of the original, it has the guts, and, most importantly, it has Lzzy. She has the pipes to prove that women can also do Dio. I began listening to Halestorm a couple of years ago, as my wife has become something of a fan. She has actually even purchased 2 or 3 of their cd’s. Yes, this is the same wife that is also a big fan of 3 Days Grace and Pink. For whatever reason, Halestorm really does it for her. I whole-heartedly concur.
Unfortunately, the other female on here doesn’t quite live up to her legendary status. I speak, of course, of Doro Pesch, who covers “Egypt (The Chains Are On)”. It is sadly lacking when compared to her previous work, and also lacking when put up against her fellow coverers. I think I’ve just invented a new word, according to Spell Check! Evidently coverers was not previously covered. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not bagging on the lovely warrior princess — I guess I was just expecting a bit more.
Next up is my next fave, of course – yes, I’ve discovered a different way of reviewing. I’m going good track/bad track, instead of going from beginning to end, or vice versa. I speak of ” Starstruck”, which features WWRS faves Motörhead & Saxon’s leader Biff Byford. Strangely enough, Lemmy is credited with vocals but NOT bass on this track. Perhaps this was just an editing faux pas. It’s unfortunate at best, as we all know how incredible of a bass player Mr. Kilmister is. I also found it a bit odd that Lemmy didn’t sing the lead – but then, of course, they did have Biff on board. After all, somebody needs to hit those high notes that only Ronnie could hit. According to rock urban legend, that’s the main reason Lemmy sang the lead on Hawkwind’s “Silver Machine” – because he COULD. And Biff definitely CAN, if need be. A bit more throaty, perhaps, but good nonetheless.
My next favourite track is most likely a toss-up between Killswitch Engage‘s version of “Holy Diver” and Anthrax‘s rendition of “Neon Knights“. Aside from the occasional growl and blast beat on the former, it is, again, a faithful rendering of the tune. “Neon Knights” also sounds like it could have been lifted from the original tracks. Joey Belladonna (Anthrax) does his best RJD impersonation, it would seem, and does a damn fine job of sounding, erm, like Ronnie did back then. WAY back then.
Next on my list would most likely be Adrenaline Mob‘s “The Mob Rules“, and who better? They do a wonderful job on this number, but then that could most likely be said for every track on offer here. There are a couple of exceptions…The Scorpions version of “The Temple of the King” is well done, but, to these ears at least, falls a bit short. Klaus Meine does his best at vocalizing what Ronnie could probably do in one or two takes, but it sounds almost TOO much like the Scorpions, at least vocally. Not that that would normally be a BAD thing, but I think the point here was to PAY tribute to the master, as it were. That was not necessarily done in that particular instance. On we go!
Up next is Glenn Hughes (with various Dio Disciples) and their take on “Catch the Rainbow“. It is good, but it’s mostly just Glenn showing off his vocal range. “I” is particularly well done, in my opinion, and features Oni Logan (of Lynch Mob fame) on vocals. Oni is joined by renowned bassist Jimmy Bain (a member of Rainbow and MANY others), AMAZING drummer Brian Tichy and Rowan Robertson on guitars. This is a skillful rendering of the Black Sabbath (Dehumanizer) track, and an overlooked gem in the normal canon of Ronnie’s catalogue.
I would probably rate Metallica‘s “Ronnie Rising Medley” (featuring A Light in the Black, Tarot Woman, Stargazer and Kill the King) as next best. It is well done, and features one of my favourite Rainbow tracks (Kill the King). It is, however, Metallica, and they may have lost some of their lustre/bluster in recent years. Again, this is MY opinion, and we all have one – of course, we all have assholes, too!
Corey Taylor and his crew do “Rainbow In the Dark“, and again, they do a fine job, but as a single track, it is NOT a standout. Nice try, Corey! Rob Halford and more Disciples of Dio do a passing stab at “Man on the Silver Mountain”, but again, I expected SO much more. Perhaps I recall the Halford of Sad Wings of Destiny and Sin After Sin days a bit too much. I realize Halford is an elder statesman, but I KNOW his voice is better than that. At least I thought I knew…
Last, but certainly not least, is probably the most compromised of all the tracks on offer here, and that is Tenacious D‘s rendering of “The Last in Line“. Though some may deem this a ridiculous attempt at a bonafide rock classic, the D had Ronnie’s approval before (“Tribute“), and he, by all accounts, thoroughly enjoyed working with them. Of course, when a classic guitar solo is rendered by recorder INSTEAD of guitar, a few heads may wag in the wrong direction! There you have it, then, my lovely wonderful punters! Fourteen tracks all told, and only a few duds. For the most part, this is a solid tribute, and it’s purchase will entail donations to Ronnie/Wendy‘s Stand Up and Shout Cancer Fund. THAT alone is worthy of the purchase price. Enjoy!
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