Here we have another Dio release/reissue in the form of 'Finding the Sacred Heart - Live in Philly 1986'. Available in several different formats, it's the Blu-ray edition which is up for scrutiny here. Naysayers and cynics will probably continue to express their disapproval at the amount of Dio-related albums/compilations/DVDs etc released since his sad passing three years ago although, such was the great man's popularity during his own lifetime, that a frequency of products featuring his name was always maintained prior to 2010 too. So any criticisms of "cashing-in" are somewhat unjust - particularly seeing as this Blu-ray features remastered sound and restored film footage, with the live show available in its entirety for the very first time. That will instantly make it a sought-after item for the discerning Dio aficionado.
Originally released in its truncated format on VHS back in 1986, and then on DVD in 2004 under the name 'Sacred Heart - The DVD', this June 17th 1986 show which captures Dio in action at The Spectrum in Philadelphia during his 'Sacred Heart' tour that spanned August 1985 to October 1986 was apparently the most ambitious and biggest spectacle for a stage show ever undertaken during the history of Ronnie James' band. So cue a huge animatronic dragon attached to Vinny Appice's ridiculously tall drum riser, a degree of drama when Dio battles with the dragon during 'Sacred Heart' and the expected pyros, lasers, extravagant lighting rigs, stage props etc. But it was the 80s and spectacles such as this, particularly within the context of Dio's quasi-theatrical aesthetic, were more commonplace. It might look a little dated, ridiculous, clichéd and Spinal Tap-esque now but, hell, it was Dio et al who invented all those clichés in the first place.
Beyond the spectacle, there's some rather tasty music too, of course, with a range of Dio classics plus a scattering of tunes from his Black Sabbath and Rainbow days. The band look on fine form throughout (a long way into the tour, you'd expect them to appear as a well-oiled unit) and each musician delivers a flawless performance with a little self-indulgence thrown in for good measure as we have keyboard, guitar and drum solos. Liner notes in an accompanying booklet, written by Malcolm Dome and featuring various quotes from band members, offer insightful, behind-the-scenes anecdotes such as drummer Appice's assertion that the prospect of the filmed performance was "very nerve-wracking" due to this sole show being filmed so they "couldn't afford to make mistakes." Any nerves, however, certainly aren't noticeable in the footage.
Although this is a Blu-ray release, don't expect anything too sparkling or sharp picture-wise. After all, Blu-ray can only be as good as the source material, and this is as good as it'll perhaps ever look. There's a degree of noise in the picture, which is particularly noticeable in the darker tones (and it's a metal gig so they are aplenty). The DTS HS Master Audio and LPCM Stereo soundtracks are great but, visually, it's what you'd probably expect from a show filmed twenty seven years previously. A small amount of bonus material is also a nice inclusion: a near-two minute featurette about the tour from 1986; a six and a half minute interview with Ronnie, also from 1986; a more recently filmed nineteen minute retrospective interview with Ronnie and guitarist Craig Goldy; nine and a half minutes of behind-the-scenes footage of Ronnie, his band mates and crew larking around; and the video for 'Rock 'n' Roll Children'. Overall, this is a nice, well-rounded package that is an essential purchase for all those who've always wanted to see this particular show in its entirety in what must certainly be regarded its definitive version picture and sound-wise. For others, it'll serve as a curiosity piece within the annals of metal history as to just where some of the genre's clichés were conceived.
Eagle Rock Entertainment
FINDING THE SACRED HEART - LIVE IN PHILLY 1986
Review by Mark Holmes
27th May 2012
1) Draco Ignis; 2) King of Rock & Roll; 3) Like the Beat of a Heart; 4) Don't Talk to Strangers; 5) Hungry for Heaven; 6) The Last in Line/Children of the Sea/Holy Diver; 7) Drum Solo; 8) Heaven and Hell; 9) Keyboard Solo; 10) Guitar Solo; 11) Sacred Heart; 12) Rock 'n' Roll Children/Long Live Rock 'n' Roll/Man on the Silver Mountain; 13) Time to Burn; 14) Stand Up and Shout; 15) Rainbow in the Dark; 16) We Rock
Bonus Features: Sacred Heart Tour Featurette; Interview '86; Interview with Ronnie & Craig; Rock 'n' Roll Children music video; Behind the Scenes
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
"It might look a little dated, ridiculous, clichéd and Spinal Tap-esque now but, hell, it was Dio et al who invented all those clichés in the first place."