If Glenn Hughes has been bestowed with "The Voice of Rock" moniker, then many would argue that Ronnie James Dio has long deserved "The Voice of Metal" tag, both within his lifetime and long after his untimely death four years ago. With a voice and intonation that became intrinsically paradigmatic within the genre, his singing remains inimitable to this very day. And here we have another posthumous release from the Dio archives to showcase the man's undeniably awesome vocal talents; the previously unreleased 'Live in London: Hammersmith Apollo 1993'. Simultaneously released on DVD, Blu-ray and CD, it's the latter format that forms the basis of this review although, with the DVD also submitted for scrutiny, you'll find that reviewed elsewhere on this site.
All the live action at London's legendary venue has been captured in resonant sonic splendour, and spread across two discs. It's the expected mix of Dio material alongside Rainbow and Black Sabbath numbers, plus a near-six minute drum solo. While I'm not averse to solo displays of sticksman dexterity per se, I find them much better digested in the flesh or, at the very least, in the audio-visual format. Otherwise, drum solos become a little redundant and misplaced on a CD. The one that appears towards the end of the first disc, while book-ended with guitar/bass accompaniment, does indeed seem a little pointless and misplaced in its inclusion, despite the fact that drumming legend Vinny Appice is the man behind the kit. Oh well, a minor niggle as this CD set is generally a magnificent aural document of early-90s Dio, and what's referred to in liner notes, penned by Malcolm Dome, as "an era of Dio that's still remarkably undervalued."
Aside from Scott Warren on keyboards and bassist Jeff Pilson, this particular era of Dio is notable for the introduction of guitarist Tracy G who, at the time of the Hammersmith show, had only recently been brought into the fold, for the 'Strange Highways' album, and would remain a Dio member for the following six years. Despite his subsequent involvement with other bands, it's his Dio association for which he remains best known, which has also been the case with Rowan Robertson et al, such is Ronnie James' legendary stature. And Tracy G's performance throughout this Hammersmith set is superlative and exemplary of an axeman balancing out the evident energy of live fretboard histrionics with a degree of controlled virtuosity.
With the entire band sounding energised and full of raw, yet refined, vitality throughout, 'Live in London: Hammersmith Apollo 1993' is a more than welcome release and addition to Dio's ever expanding posthumous discography. Ronnie James' vocals are as strong as they've ever been, his band of the time are on fire, and the setlist is a good 'un. What more could you possibly want? Well, a less blurry picture of the man himself on the front of the booklet might've been nice, as I'm guessing it's merely a screen capture taken from the SD video footage. Surely they could've sourced a better still image from the gig?
LIVE IN LONDON: HAMMERSMITH APOLLO 1993
Review by Mark Holmes
57:21 & 31:54
12th May 2014
DISC ONE: 1) Stand Up and Shout; 2) Strange Highways; 3) Don't Talk to Strangers; 4) Evilution; 5) Pain; 6) The Mob Rules; 7) Children of the Sea; 8) Holy Diver; 9) Heaven and Hell; 10) Man on the Silver Mountain; 11) Drum Solo; 12) Heaven and Hell (Reprise)
DISC TWO: 1) Jesus Mary & The Holy Ghost; 2) Hollywood Black; 3) The Last in Line; 4) Rainbow in the Dark; 5) We Rock; 6) Here's To You
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
"With the entire band sounding energised and full of raw, yet refined, vitality throughout, 'Live in London: Hammersmith Apollo 1993' is a more than welcome release and addition to Dio's ever expanding posthumous discography."