Thursday, July 17, 2003 @ 3:47 PM
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Dio can sing better than any vertically challenged metal shrieker in history. (Honorable mention goes to Udo Dirkschneider of Accept.)
Dio can take words and weave them into pictures that evoke feelings like few before him. (Wait a minute… was there anyone before Dio? Moses maybe? Adam and Eve for sure, right? Maybe Woody Guthrie, too.)
Dio can vanquish all enemies of hard rock with a stern look and a well-thrown metal sign.
Hell, for all I know, he may be able to leap tall buildings in a single bound as well, so I just figured that if Ronnie James Dio could do all of these things then maybe he and Rhino Records could come up with a good reason for me--or any other metal fan--to plunk down $25 for a new two disc anthology. Stand Up and Shout attempts to cover the entire spectrum of RJD’s work from his participation in Elf all the way up through selections from Lock Up the Wolves. After all, Rhino already released a single disc anthology of Dio’s work in 2000 that’s easily obtainable at a place like Best Buy for $9.99 or at worst $11.99. It’s got sixteen songs and has all the hits that most casual fans care about such as “Rainbow in the Dark,” “Holy Diver” and “The Last In Line,” so the need for a double album retrospective probably isn’t immediately clear since most diehard Dio followers probably already have the majority of this material included in other collections or on some other format.
Since the second disc of Stand Up and Shout contains the most recent, most obvious solo material that one would expect, much of the reason for purchasing this has to come from the strength of the first CD. There are three tunes from Elf, three from Rainbow, and eight songs from Sabbath, while the final song comes from Dio’s solo work—Sacred Heart. In all, it’s a fifteen-song walk through the early career of one of metal’s top five heroes.
The triumvirate of songs that begin the festivities come from the aforementioned Elf—a band in which Dio originally played bass as well as provided the lead vocals for. Even though these tracks come to this collection with the least amount of fanfare, they still may be the coolest in the entire collection. “Hoochie Koochie Lady,” “I’m Coming Back For You” and “Carolina County Ball” are all piano-based rock tunes that feature Mickey Lee Soule on the ivories. They’re some of the most straightforward, least pretentious songs one could ever hope to hear, consequently, they possess a rare sense of timelessness. It’s difficult to believe that these tunes were cut in the early seventies, and Dio’s vocals sounded strong and distinctive--even then. The first three songs are definitely the surprise of this offering.
RJD’s time in Rainbow also gets a trio of selections on the first disc. “Man On the Silver Mountain,” “Starstruck” and “Long Live Rock n’ Roll” should surprise no one on their inclusion here. The direct contrast between the almost show tune vibe of tracks 1-3 and the Rainbow material created with Ritchie Blackmore is distinctive and palpable. The piano is traded for a full-on metallic sound accentuated by Blackmore’s guitar virtuosity. In many ways it is the perfect precursor and bridge from Elf to his eventual solo catalogue as well as his collaborations with Tony Iommi. Even with that in mind, many fans would probably still rather see such Rainbow masterpieces as “Temple of the King” or “Catch the Rainbow” included here, but the ones that made it are basically the classics that are bound to have been played a million times through the years on your local rock radio station. Of course, the Sabbath era followed, and Dio’s contribution to that seminal band is always going to be diminished because of the perception that Ozzy’s time in the group was far more important simply because it came first. This is true, even though it’s undeniable that the presence of Dio combined with the power of Sabbath produced such hard rock anthems as “Children of the Sea,” “Heaven and Hell” and “The Sign of the Southern Cross.” Even if RJD hasn’t been as appreciated as he should have been for the legacy he helped create in Black Sabbath, “Neon Knights,” “Turn Up the Night” and “Voodoo” are all still here and each offering continues to attest to Dio’s mystical strength and penchant for darkness.
The second disc of exclusively solo material contains fourteen tracks. The predictably essential songs are all here, i.e. “The Last in Line,” “Rainbow In The Dark” and “Holy Diver” just as they were in the aforementioned Very Beast of Dio. The basic difference is that on this representation, “Don’t Talk To Strangers,” “Egypt” and “All the Fools Sailed Away” make an appearance here instead of “I Could Have Been a Dreamer,” “Mystery,” “Sacred Heart,” “Rock n’ Roll Children.” In the end, they’re all good songs, so after that, it just depends upon your personal preference or what you may already possess in your collection. The argument could be made that Dio has enough stellar solo material that he could fill up a two disc set using these songs alone.
The packaging for this collection contains an extensive homage to Dio written by Lonn Friend as well as some pretty cool artwork and photos. By the way, ever heard of a musician named Vivian Campbell? What ever happened to that guy anyway? Oh yeah, he joined Def Leppard. Damn, I hope someday he decides he wants to play guitar again. Maybe he’ll eventually get tired of standing around and staring at his axe while the band around him plays tired ass versions of even more tired ass songs like “Pour Some Sugar On Me” and the downright bowel-churningly awful “Armegeddon It.” Paying the bills is one thing, but selling yourself to the great mullet-headed devil is another. A heavy metal conversion for Mr. Campbell could still be possible… right? The power of Dio can surely make a variety of improbable scenarios come to fruition. Seeing photos of RJD with his various bands contained herein makes one realize just how much time has passed—both for Dio and his fans.
This collection of material doesn’t smack of a rush job in any way, and it is by all accounts a quality work. Whether or not it is a mandatory purchase for you primarily depends on how much Dio you already own and how interested you are in his older—but still very cool--material. What Stand Up and Shout amounts to is a sampling of some of Dio’s best work brought to you in a convenient two disc package. Necessary? Maybe not, but Dio’s music certainly is, and getting your hands on some in whatever form or manner you can procure it is great idea, but be warned--finding Elf on vinyl or CD may be as hard to locate as a Rainbow in the Dark.
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