On May 16th of this year, (2014) it will be the 4th anniversary of the death of Ronnie James Dio. In April Rhino records released a tribute album called THIS IS YOUR LIFE. The amount if media hype about this album was unbelievable and frankly a bit puzzling. This was just sixth (or seventh depending how you count) Dio tribute on the market. Why was everyone so excited about this one? How does it compare to the five previous ones? Of course being a true Dio fan I own all of them so I decided to pull them from the vaults and review them. They are, in chronological order of release…
HOLY DIO-A TRIBUTE TO THE VOICE OF METAL:RONNIE JAMES DIO (Century Media, 1999)
AWAKEN THE DEMON-TRIBUTE TO DIO (Dwell, 1999)
DIO (Jorn) (Frontiers 2010)
MAGIC-A TRIBUTE TO RONNIE JAMES DIO (Magic Circle Music, 2010)
TO HEAVEN THROUGH HELL-A TRIBUTE TO RONNIE JAMES DIO (Backstage, 2011)
RONNIE JAMES DIO-THIS IS YOUR LIFE (Rhino, 2014)
The Jorn album DIO was already reviewed by our very own Waspman back in July of 2010 so feel free to check out this review as well as part of this feature/tribute. Please feel free to enjoy all the reviews in this feature.
This is in my opinion the second strongest Dio tribute. MAGIC was put together by the true Metal warriors at Magic Circle Music, just shortly after Dio’s death. This is the first post-death Dio tribute to hit the market just months after his passing in May of 2010. Magic Circle is of course the label owned and run by Manowar and features their roster of artists. The very fact that Manowar are involved make it one of the better tributes. In a very rare and impressive move, Manowar open the disc with their rendition of Dio’s favourite song, ‘Heaven And Hell’. This is significant for two reasons, one the band were close personal friends of Dio, in fact Joey DeMaio used to work for Dio during the Black Sabbath years. Secondly and more importantly this is the first Metal song that Manowar has ever covered. Bands cover Manowar, not the other way around! However, this is the unique exception and this song remains one of the most impressive and notable in the entire canon of Dio cover songs.
In terms of presentation, it is very decent. MAGIC is the only Dio tribute to date that does not have Murray (Dio’s mascot) on the cover. Instead Magic Circle approached longtime Manowar artist, Ken Kelly. He is the man also responsible for the iconic artwork featured on RAINBOW RISING and he redid the art especially for this tribute. It is a unique and rare piece that pays homage to the original he did back in 1976, making it all that much more special. The booklet itself is well done. The 8-page booklet has 17 rare photos; Dio looks so young in the 70’s with his massive beard! There are notes and credits and Joey DeMaio pens a nice tribute to his fallen brother of Metal.
The 10 song, 50 minute tribute is a good mix of well-known and lesser known bands. There is a mix with a few European bands, Germany’s Metalforce, (formerly Majesty) and I was delighted to see the amazing, young Greek Power Metal band Crosswind on the tribute. They tackle the lesser-known Rainbow song ‘A Light In The Black’. Another cool and unique rarity is the Magic Circle All Star Band , featuring Joe Stump, Jack Starr and doing ‘Long Live Rock And Roll’. There is a nice live version of ‘Holy Diver’ by HolyHell and an Elf cover!
This is how tributes should be done, a good selection of bands doing a good mix of hits and rarities. There is lots of attention to detail and all the bands capture the magic of Dio in their songs.
1. Manowar - Heaven and Hell
2. HolyHell - Holy Diver (Live in Norway)
3. Metalforce - The Last in Line
4. Magic Circle All Star Band - Long Live Rock 'n' Roll
5. Awaken - I Speed at Night
6. Crosswind - A Light in the Black
7. Dean Cascione - Never More
8. Feinstein - Far Beyond
9. Harlet - Straight Through the Heart
10. Jack Starr's Burning Starr - Catch the Rainbow