Another month and another Ronnie James Dio release. In the three years since his sad passing there has been a slew of product, whether it includes the great man himself or as just tribute to him. Some of it has been official and some not but, either way, it's a real shame that much of it couldn't have been released while he was still alive because if one man deserved that then it was RJD. Anyway, what we have here is a full concert from Dio (the band), recorded at the Spectrum, Philadelphia, USA on the 17th June 1986. This is the first time it has been released in its entirety (edited VHS and DVD versions were released many years ago). It is being released in multiple formats, courtesy of Eagle Vision, and I have been given the wonderful double vinyl version to review. There is really no need to provide a history lesson, but this was recorded on the Sacred Heart Tour and contains songs from the first three Dio albums plus a smattering of Sabbath and Rainbow tracks and was also the first tour that included, at the time, new guitarist, Craig Goldy. Everything has been remastered and sounds absolutely fantastic and the vinyl and packaging is a thing of beauty. Obviously a fair amount of care and attention has gone into this release.
I saw the Dio band on this tour and, as an impressionable 18 year old, it was one of the greatest gigs I had ever seen. Of course, it goes without saying that Ronnie James is in incredible voice on this (did he ever have a bad gig?) and the rest of the band - Craig Goldy, Vinny Appice (drums), Jimmy Bain (bass) and Claude Schnell (keyboards) - put in awesome performances. 'King Of Rock And Roll', 'Don't Talk To Strangers', 'Sacred Heart', 'Rainbow In The Dark' and 'We Rock' etc are all despatched with consummate ease.
Now, here comes my counter-argument. As a battle hardened 45 year old, hindsight can be a wonderful thing and, despite all I have said above, I have to say something else. The late 80s were one of excess and, at the time of this recording, Dio were arguably at their commercial peak. Many bands padded out gigs with endless solos and medleys and Dio (the band) were not immune. Nearly twenty minutes of this is made up of unnecessary guitar, keyboard and drum solos. There are two medleys containing part songs such as 'The Last In Line', 'Holy Diver' and 'Long Live Rock 'N' Roll', all of which should really have been played in full. And many of the other songs have been changed slightly or lengthened for no apparent reason. Rainbow and Sabbath had both dabbled in this sort of thing when Ronnie James was a member, but this recording really does take it too far for my liking and it spoils the overall effect. Perhaps watching this on the DVD or Blu-Ray will work better but sides B and C of the vinyl release are pretty much rendered redundant as there is only one full song included. That aside, for any fan of Dio (band or otherwise), this really should be added to your collection, in one or more versions, and it is another wonderful reminder of 'the voice' in full flow. Ronnie James Dio really was the 'King Of Rock And Roll'.
Double Album (vinyl)
FINDING THE SACRED HEART - LIVE IN PHILLY 1986
Review by Rick Tilley
52:00 & 41:08
27th May 2013
SIDE A: 1) Draco Ignis; 2) King of Rock and Roll; 3) Like the Beat of a Heart; 4) Don't Talk to Strangers; 5) Hungry for Heaven
SIDE B: 1) The Last in Line/Children of the Sea/Holy Diver; 2) Drum Solo; 3) Heaven and Hell; 4) Keyboard Solo
SIDE C: 1) Guitar Solo; 2) Sacred Heart; 3) Rock 'n' Roll Children/Long Live Rock 'n' Roll/Man on the Silver Mountain
SIDE D: 1) Time to Burn; 2) Stand Up and Shout; 3) Rainbow in the Dark; 4) We Rock
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
"...another wonderful reminder of 'the voice' in full flow."