V.A. - Ronnie James Dio - This is Your Life

V.A. Ronnie James Dio - This is Your Life cover
Various Artists
Ronnie James Dio - This is Your Life
Rhino Entertainment
Ronnie James Dio was, f@ck it, is and forever will be, (can’t write about him in the past tense without feeling very wrong), the Best Metal Singer there ever was!
A great multitude of celebrities from the metal world, have gathered to pay their respects to the man and the result is “This Is Your Life” a double collection of material, spanning a great variety of material and bringing together a lot of people from all “styles” of rock and metal to commemorate Ronnie and to help raise awareness about the terrible disease that took him away as well as funds for his charity – “The Ronnie James Dio Stand Up and Shout Cancer Fund”.
I will try to go over the songs track by track, mentioning who’s involved and giving a short impression. Anthrax’s take on Black Sabbath’s “Neon Knights” is real good and something they could have easily done for Anthems, their own covers EP – I mean the 2013 © at least suggests it was tracked back then... Belladona, hasn’t got an issue putting in a pretty good performance and the rest of the band are seasoned players so, it’s a relative walk in the park to make their fellow New Yorker and sometimes tour fellow proud, even post humorously!
Tenacious D… take on “The Last In Line”. Jack Black may be a huge Dio fan and a hugely talented actor, but he’s not Dio. Yet he puts in a very passionate performance and that shows and is felt. I could have done without the “recorder”/flute solo in there?! Though! Its inclusion is a little questionable and feels like a bit of a bad joke.
Adrenaline Mob predictably enough do Sabbath’s “The Mob Rules”. Their groove metal attitude is somewhat not apparent here, which is better and luckily for them, they have a guy like Russel Allen on vocals who has a vocal style, very close to the late, Ronnie... no to mention, they’re all pretty good players... so theirs is a really good rendition.
Next up is a bunch of people Corey Taylor (Slipknot, Stone Sour), Roy Mayorga (Stone Sour), Satchel (Steel Panther, ex-Fight), Christian Martucci (Chealsea Smiles etc.), Jason Christopher (Stone Sour, S. Bach) who do “Rainbow in the Dark”. OK Corey Taylor is a rather decent singer, but not a classic metal singer, so while, I can’t deny that he can really sing the song, I’m not entirely enamored with his interpretation of it, but he does a good job, I mean, he’s not massacring it, or anything. Far from it. I might hate Slipknot and only like a couple of Stone Sour tunes, thinking it’s pussy-music, but fair enough... well the other pussyman, here does a fine job on guitars and well the whole hybrid/sour band, does a good job… in general...
Halestorm are responsible for “Straight through the Heart” … OK that Lzzy, girl can sing some, but so can a few more... her performance is good but not stellar. The selection and inclusion here feels more like good marketing/PR on behalf of Atlantic and all that... I might be wrong too... oh well she’s popular… So is Lady Gaga...
Motorhead featuring Biff Byford are doing Rainbow’s “Star Struck”, featuring also the Lem, but he’s buried in the mix. Well, I suppose, in these cases, Lemmy is not exactly the fucking tenor and instead of fucking up a classic totally, getting another ballsy Brit Legend to lend a hand, work, pretty well. This “Biff” fronted, 'head, sounds an awful lot like Saxon obviously, but a nastier more in your face, trio version and it's another “good” version’.
“The Temple of the King” is Scorpions contribution to this collection and as it’s a ballad and Scorpions are famous for their “slow songs” (not that they can’t rock like hurricanes if they choose to) they do very well!
Doro’s “Egypt-(The Chains are On)” comes from 1999 and actually has been previously included in the century media “Holy Dio” tribute album, back in the day… so it’s a bit of a “recycling”, so that fact is a little underwhelming. It’s a damn good version... however...
I can’t quite say the same for Killswitch Engage’s version of “Holydiver” however... trying to carefully balance between their own style and a clean one to do the cover, it becomes a bit messy. A mellow screamo-death-mall-core, thing that is not really any of the two genres exactly, with clean vocals that can only cause laughter. The video is supposed to poke fun at the original “cult” one… well, unintentionally the song, isn’t too serious either, and it’s also a recycled tune dating back to 2007 too.
Another gathering of musicians led by Glenn Hughes (Deep Purple, Trapeze, Black Sabbath, Solo, etc.), and Simon Wright, Craig Goldy, Rudy Sarzo, Scott Warren (all of them famous and much in demand musicians that have played in too many bands by all in various portions as well members of DIO's personal band too) are responsible for the fantastic rendition of “Catch the Rainbow”... Well Glenn’s one of the few people with the voice and the soul to get the nuisances for a song like that, to work… it’s more airy and soulful than the original, in no way better, but a damn fine effort, anyway. Close...
And yet another gathering of musicians this time led by Oni Logan, that most might recognize as the original singer of Lynch Mob, Jimmy Bain (Rainbow, Dio etc.), Rowan Robertson (Dio, DC4 etc.), Brian Tichy (drummed for too many bands to mention here! lol) does Black Sabbath’s “I”... well that egocentric piece, is quite good, in fact...
Next up in these “gatherings” is the “bald and the beautiful” (I’m just taking a piss at the soapie :P). His Screaming majesty sir Robert Halford, doesn’t do any screaming at all on “Man on the Silver Mountain”, which is quite nice actually, but at the same time it feels a little awkward. Dio had such a presence... sounding like a lion... and here Rob sounds tame in comparison... I like what he does, towards the end of the song, if his whole vocal was like that and not mixing 2 vocals, it would have been better I think/feel. There’s also Vinny Appice, Doug Aldrich, Jeff Pilson & Scott Warren all ex-Dio collaborators both in the band and in the case of V, also in the Sabs.
Metallica, one of the biggest names in the biz, do a Rainbow medley. They conveniently, choose only the fastest and easiest to sing parts, yet Jaymz, has some trouble even with them, trouble that requires some “studio” trickery that’s quite apparent. The auto-tuning in parts is painfully obvious. They go through a small selection of parts from “A Light in the Black”, “Tarot Woman”, “Stargazer” and mainly “Kill the King” before reprising a bit of ALITB again.) It’s not a bad medley… but it’s really a performance they must have sweated a bit to master well enough and they have “perfected” to the best of “their current abilities” by slightly cheating... at any rate.
The album closes with the inclusion of a Dio original, the title track... a sensational piano ballad, maybe one of the few tracks worth mentioning from one of the weakest solo albums of his career, 1996’s “Angry Machines”. (Funnily enough one of Greece’s major Rock Portals thought this was an unreleased song!)…
The Japanese fans are also treated to a further two bonuses: Stryper’s version of “Heaven and Hell” from their album “The Covering” an obvious covers album... which is really good, as that entire band was one of the better ones the 80s had to offer in terms of musicianship and still holds magnificently well and a decent enough (considering a lot of parameters that could make it sound as rough as it does – read: quite) version of “Stand up and Shout” by the Dio Disciples, the official “Dio tribute band” that has the authorization by Niji Managment to go out and perform the songs... it features Dio collaborators and people like Tim Ripper Owens on vocals... this specific recording is from Bloodstock and back from 2012.
Overall, this is a decent enough tribute to maybe the Best Heavy Metal Singer there ever was, one of the best personalities and a true gentleman and one of the best human beings on this planet, Ronnie James Dio. It might not be as good, as “Holy Dio”, and I’d say that maybe a better one with lesser known, but more talented singers, and some of those here could have been prepared and its fortunate that some of the ideas, like having bands like Korn etc., to participate, didn’t quite come to be... just in pure terms of “doing” good covers... that would pay respectful tribute to the artist.
Obviously in terms of popularity and getting people involved and buying this, since 100 % will go to aid the fund, this is really important and that’s why they possibly went for the “bigger” names. So in the end it doesn’t really matter… I’m sure more tributes will follow. Which is good. Because his sacred heART, must be preserved! Long Live Dio, Long Live Rock ‘n Roll!