Released: 2003, Warner
Let’s get one thing straight. For those who care there IS a subtle difference between a contractual obligation release, a cash grab release and an actual tribute. I’m delighted to report that SUAS is in the latter category. Facing facts, this is a Double Best of with no unreleased material. Let’s get that out in the open. However, this is one of the better compilations I have seen and our regular readers will know I’m pretty intolerant and critical of these kind of releases! I mention this because there are four other Dio compilation type releases on the market and this is by the far the very best of them.
SUAS comes in gorgeous fold-out double digipak (like Gamma Ray’s Blast from The Past) and is housed in slip case. What I was extremely surprised to see was an absolutely gorgeous, specially done piece of art by none other than Wes Benscoter, who has done primarily gory art for death metal dudes like Embalmer, Deceased and of course Mortician.
It’s a beautiful, big picture, very dark, very evil looking and despite being totally out of line with any other art adorning a Dio release, it works perfectly. If you look carefully, you will find several visual clues representing his entire history. Good job.
Back in the day artists would establish long-term relationships with labels and often have their entire career on one label, unlike today. Dio is just old enough to be on the cusp of that age and this anthology represents his work with Elf, Rainbow, Black Sabbath and his solo act. We get 29 cuts over a quarter century and almost his entire career up to Strange Highways.
What makes this fifth Dio compilation superior to the rest is the 25+ page booklet inside, full colour of course! It has over 30 pictures and track by track notes by Dio, himself. Lonn Friend writes a great essay spanning about 10 pages, interlaced with pictures and as a nice touch you can visit http://www.rhino.com
for the extended version of the liner notes. Friend’s essay was humourous and gushing (as it should) be but for whatever misguided reason seems to think Dio was inactive in the 90’s. I guess he didn’t hear the albums Dio released in 1994, 1996 and 1998. His loss.
Next up is a brief note from Dio, then full line-up and recording info for each track and of course more pictures. My minor gripe is the discography is not complete. Many label comps ignore large chunks of a bands discography if that particular CD was not released on that label. In that respect Rhino/Warner is better than most as they include recent Dio releases, but there are at least four Dio releases missing and the they have the wrong cover for the Rainbow Best of” depicted. No big deal, it is still a great package. Great to read, great to look at. A treasure for any Dio fan.
The songs run chronologically (with a couple of minor but annoying exceptions) from 1972 with three cuts from Elf, three from Rainbow, eight from Black Sabbath and 15 from his solo career. The downfall is that there is no rare or unreleased material at all and the picks are fairly pedestrian. Additionally, SUAS leaves out the last four Dio releases (Angry Machines, Inferno, Magica, Killing the Dragon) and wraps up with the title cut from 1996’s Strange Highways.
As Friend said in his essay, “I don’t have to wax eloquent about the merits of Holy Diver, The Last In Line and Dream Evil. If you got this package in your hands, you’ve long since internalized the metal and the message of those exalted efforts.” I couldn’t agree more.
This package is a great way to start any Dio collection, die-hard fans will want it as well. My grade reflects the fact that I personally have 26 of the 29 songs on this comp already, The Elf years being the exceptions.