03 February 2021
Evil or Divine – Live in New York City
Holy Diver – Live – London
Between the 1963 release of Peter, Paul and Mary’s song Puff the Magic Dragon and the TV series Game of Thrones Ronnie James DIO had been the torch bearer of all things mystical and magical. Through his career with Elf, Rainbow, Black Sabbath and of course , his namesake band Dio there had been one or two songs that touched on the subject of the mythical. At times it started to get a bit silly , however it was his USP and the amount of great to incredible songs he wrote that included those themes outnumbered the odd naff one by a huge number.
With the Dio back catalogue being remastered and reissued and a biography hopefully soon being published, these two live albums have been given the modern treatment and with the tenth anniversary of his untimely death in May drawing close, they all reminder us of how good he was in concert and how much he is still missed.
Evil or Divine – Live in New York City was recorded in December 2002 with the line up of RJD (Vocals), Simon Wright (Drums), Scott Warren (Keyboards), Doug Aldrich( guitar) and Jimmy Bain ( Bass). The original release had 15 tracks for the CD and 17 for the accompanying DVD. This release has all 17 which now include a new version of Lord of the last day and a drum solo, and the set list covers the Dio albums Holy Diver (1983 debut) to Killing the Dragon released that year, 4 tracks from former bands make a decent appearance, 2 from Sabbaths epic Heaven and Hell , including a far too short snippet of Children of the Sea dovetailed to the end of Egypt (The chains are on) and a decent rendition of the title track and from RJD tenure with Rainbow there is Man on the silver mountain and Long live rock’n’roll , all of which get the NYC crowd singing along.
Holy Diver – Live. Recorded at the now gone London Astoria in October 2005 with the same band as before apart from the late great Jimmy Bain being replaced by Rudy Sarzo. The set was as it implied the full Dio debut followed by the best of the rest from the vocalist’s CV.
The mother album from which this live recording is named was released in 1983 and is one of the greatest debut rock albums ever made, and if we are honest, all of the subsequent studio DIO releases never matched that brilliance. There isn’t a duff track, and this is evident when the songs were performed on stage, and even with overindulgent and unnecessary drum and guitar solo slots it is a constant hummerathon.
At the conclusion of the Holy Diver set it continues with another 8 tracks including from Rainbow (a blistering Tarot woman, Gates of Babylon, singalong Catch the rainbow/long live rock’n’roll and Man on the silver mountain), Sabbath (fabulous Sign of the southern cross and the obligatory classic Heaven and Hell) and Dio’s own One Night in the city and the set ender thumper We Rock. These together makes the difference between the two records and the latter pips the former as the better of the pair.
Both albums are to be released on 3LP vinyl which have an additional 4 track bonus from the ‘96-‘04 studio albums featuring This is your life (Angry machines),Fever Dreams (Magica) , Push (Killing the Dragon) and The Eyes (Master of the moon) . Both also are newly remastered with new created artwork, limited 3LP standard vinyl and includes Lenticular 3D album cover size art piece, they also come in 2CD deluxe media book.
I was lucky enough to see RJD in Sabbath , Dio (I was at this gig) and Heaven and Hell (band) and both these recordings are good representations of the live arena that he thrived , I always chuckled when in his American accent said English phrases like Bloody and Cheers, which he must have learnt over the years working with British musicians, it didn’t work but no one actually cared and in the UK particular he was an adopted son. I never met him, but as said I was privileged to see him live on many occasions and if you are over 10 years old you can at least say you were alive at the same time as the best metal vocalist that has ever lived and most likely ever will.
Both live albums are released on 12th February via BGM.
Evil or Divine – Live in New York City – 7/10
Holy Diver – Live – 8/10
Ronald James Padavona 10th July 1942 – 16th May 2010 – Long Live Rock’n’Roll
Reviewed by Skid
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