Released: 2006, Metal Blade
As part of an informal, three-month series (March, April, May of 2011) I am getting ‘caught-up’ reviewing some books by Metal’s #1 journalist, Martin Popoff. Last month (March 2011) I reviewed his COLLECTORS GUIDE review series, this month I am going to look at a half dozen of his biographies including titles on UFO (2005), Rainbow (2005), Dio (2006) Black Sabbath (2006), Judas Priest (2007) and Deep Purple (2008 & 2009) Next month we will look at his on-going Ye Olde Metal series. Please feel free to enjoy my other book reviews in the overview of Popoff’s work.
I’m really glad that Popoff wrote this book. In my experience many (most?) Dio fans live in the past. I guess that goes without saying now that he has passed away, but what I mean is that, (even moreso now that he has passed on) fans talk about his time with Rainbow and Sabbath and maybe the first four solo albums. Anything he did post 1990 tends to get swept under the carpet. Not in this book. LIGHT BEYOND THE DARK is strictly his solo years with equal attention to all of his solo albums, Live albums and of course the INTERMISSION EP!
One of Popoff’s shorter rock bios at just over 200 pages, is like the others paperback, black and white, standard layout although this time we get a couple dozen small b&w photos of Ronnie and some memorabilia. The Intro, index and discography complete the package, which follows the format of one chapter per release. I gotta admit, the cover art on this one is kinda lame…a blurry live shot of Dio, a CGI skeletal bird (bat?) wing and a sword. I’ve seen better.
As I alluded to earlier, I’m a fan of Dio’s solo work. I’m old enough to enjoy his ‘classic’ eras with his other bands but young enough to enjoy his more recent solo output. I really enjoy STRANGE HIGHWAYS and ANGRY MACHINES which most people didn’t like or forget about completely. Some of the older fans said ‘Too heavy! Too modern!” but really, they aren’t that heavy, just the guitar tone scared away the old-folk. OK, ‘Double Monday’ was pretty heavy, but c’mon! It’s Metal! (These same dudes complain that Judas Priest’s 90’s, and early millennium stuff was also too heavy) So, Popoff discusses those great lost records as well as the ambitious and weighty MAGICA and more. Thank goodness he spares us the half dozen crappy, illegitimate compilations bearing Dios name.
Lots of cool rarities are covered in detail, cuts like ‘Hide In The Rainbow’ and ‘Time to Burn’ from various EP’s and movie soundtracks. It seems that Popoff has personally interviewed every dude who has ever been in Dio’s solo band; about all 20 of them, so there is plenty of reference material. I found it eye-opening when Vinny declared that everyone who had worked with Dio had been fired, except him.
This book will certainly need a little revision, as since Dio’s death the vaults have been opened. Since publication of this book in 2006 there are already a pair of live albums on the market and the (soon to be released, we hope) unfinished album, as well as many more promised to come. When Wendy is finished raiding the vaults and all is said and done (box-sets, DVD’s, reissues with bonus tracks, books and movies, no doubt) Popoff can update reissue this great book for the completists.