This Sunday is a very important date in the history of rock. It marks what would have been the 80th birthday of legendary rocker Ronnie James Dio. Over the course of his career, Dio fronted some of the biggest bands in rock history in the form of Black Sabbath, Rainbow, and his own eponymous band. He is also known as the person who made “raising the horns” a standard for the rock and metal communities. This past Thursday, fans convened at Los Angeles, CA’s famed Rainbow Bar & Grill to recognize the moment and to celebrate Rhino Records’ new re-issue of his timeless album, Holy Diver. Released Friday on separate 4-disc and 3-LP platforms, the re-issue is the most comprehensive of the album’s re-issues to date. That is due in part to its overall presentation, which will be discussed shortly. The bonus liner notes that accompany the re-issue add their own share of interest to the recording and will be discussed a little later. The overall mixing and production in the collection rounds out its most important elements and will also be examined later. Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of the recording. All things considered they make the collection that cream of the crop among this year’s new music re-issues.
Rhino Records’ brand-new re-issue of Dio’s timeless album, Holy Diver, is the best of this year’s new music re-issues. Its success is due in large part to its general presentation. Audiences get not one but two completely re-worked takes of Holy Diver as well as a collection of rarities and b-sides as well as a complete live performance captured in 1983 in Selland Arena in Fresno, CA. Those latter additions to the collection – the live concert and rarities – are the highlights of the set. That is because while the concert does lean heavily on Holy Diver for its body, it also includes some other hits, such as ‘Heaven and Hell,’ ‘Starstruck’ and ‘Man on the Silver Mountain.’ ‘Man on the Silver Mountain’ was lifted from Rainbow’s debut album, which was released years prior in 1975. ‘Heaven and Hell’ title track from Black Sabbath’s 1980 album by the same name. ‘Starstruck’ meanwhile was lifted from Rainbow’s 1976 sophomore album, Rising. So what audiences get here is a relatively healthy does of Dio’s work with his own band as well as a sampling of his work with Black Sabbath and Rainbow all in one concert. The band’s energy throughout the performances of those extra songs and the rest of the set, even in audio-only format, is certain to keep audiences engaged and entertained. What’s more, the audio mix (which will be discussed more later) is just as rich and makes the live set all the more enjoyable. In the way of the rarities and b-sides, the addition of ‘Evil Eyes,’ which was a b-side to ‘Holy Diver,’ is a notable positive. The power metal approach here is immediately akin to works from the likes of Judas Priest and other hard rock acts that were so popular during the 1980s. The variances in the alternate takes of ‘Invisible’ and ‘Straight Through The Heart’ are so subtle, so those audiences who listen closely will catch them and in turn appreciate them just as much. All things considered, all four discs of this re-issue offer something for audiences to appreciate, from the two new mixes of holy Diver to the previously unreleased live recording to the rarities and b-sides. It collectively forms a solid foundation for the record on which rests the positives of the liner notes.
The liner notes, composed by music journalist Mick Wall, take listeners behind the scenes into the creation of Hold Diver. From the record’s production to the inspiration behind certain songs and more, the liner notes add even more to the listening experience and in turn appreciation for the recording. There is a discussion on the guitar line composed for ‘Rainbow in the Dark’ for instance, as well as just how quickly the song came to life. That story, as well as an introspective look at how Dio came to form his own band, and so many others adds so much to the experience for audiences. When it is considered along with everything that the primary content offers audiences, the whole makes the re-issue all the more enjoyable. It is just one more item that makes this re-issue so enjoyable. The overall production and mixing that went into the re-issue puts the finishing touch to the presentation.
The production that went into making Holy Diver’s re-issue happen was clearly painstaking. Considering the album was originally released nearly 40 years ago, one would imagine the sound of the original recording would make remastering and remixing the record anything but easy. Thankfully, the amount of time and effort put in paid off in all four discs. That is evident in the sound balance not only of the album but also of the rarities and b-sides, as well as the live show. In the case of the live show, each performer’s sound is expertly balanced and sounds like it was recorded not that long ago. That is a testament in itself to the effort that went into bringing that audio back to life. The audio mixes in the rarities and b-sides act as a time capsule, taking listeners back to the original recording sessions for Holy Diver, but in the best way possible. The raw sound of each song immerses listeners in the studio, making for even more engagement and entertainment. The result is an aesthetic that is just as appealing as the content itself in each disc. Taking the positive of the production and mixing into account along with the positive of the information in the new liner notes, the whole makes this overall presentation something truly special for Dio fans and a wonderful way for fans to celebrate a Ronnie James Dio’s birthday and what is one of his greatest albums.
Rhino Records’ brand new re-issue of Holy Diver is a special new release that his fans and hard rock fans in general will enjoy from beginning to end of each disc, whether on vinyl or CD. That is due in no small part to the content that makes up the body of the re-issue. Audiences get two newly re-worked takes on the album in whole to start off. From there, audiences get a full live performance that was held in support of Holy Diver in 1983. The recording’s liner notes add their own enjoyment to the presentation. That is due to the rich background that they add to the album and its history. The production and mixing that went into bringing the album back to life yet again puts the finishing touch to the presentation, completing its picture. Each item examined here is important in its own way to the whole of the album’s re-issue. All things considered they make the album the best of this year’s re-issues so far.
Rhino Records’ new re-issue of Holy Diver is available now. More information on this and other titles from Rhino Records is available at:
More information on the re-issue is available along with all of the latest Ronnie James Dio news at: