Great Metal Albums of 1983: Dio- Holy Diver

dio
Like with David Bowie’s and Motorhead’s 1983 albums, I was hoping to write about the debut album from Dio, in 1983, under much happier circumstances. With the passing of Dio bassist, Jimmy Bain, I feel that it should be a fitting tribute to him that I post about this iconic album now.

Jimmy Bain

Jimmy Bain

What can I say about “Holy Diver” that hasn’t already said? Probably nothing, therefore, I am going to speak about it straight from the heart and yes the pun is intended. From my first listen, I admit it wasn’t til early 1984 when I got that opportunity, til now, I was and still am completely blown away by it. No wonder it’s my fourth favourite album of all time.

Why is this album so good? Let’s start with the opener, “Stand Up and Shout.” That is one of the best album and concert opening songs of all time. A great opener will grab you by the throat and make you listen to the entire album. It’s no wonder, Dio opened with this song three of the five times I’ve seen them live.

You are the driver
you own the road
you are the fire — go on, explode

Then comes my favourite Dio song of all time, the title track. If I were running a ‘Headbanging for Beginners’ course, “Holy Diver” would be the first song I would use. This unique but catchy riff is just plain phenomenal. I still remember at the local nightspot in London for heavy metal, scores of metalheads all in a huddle headbanging away to it. The song is so easy to do that with. Not only that, there are Ronnie James Dio’s lyrics, (he was top of his game here), and Vivian Campbell just nails the guitar solo. For me, it’s always been truly an amazing song.

Between the velvet lies

There’s a truth as hard as steel

A vision never dies

Life’s a never ending wheel.

Following the title cut are two more excellent songs in the form of “Gypsy” and “Caught in the Middle.” With both songs, we see some heavy chords being struck while in sync with more of Ronnie’s lyrics.

Take a look at yourself, you might see someone you don’t know

If you haven’t already figured it out, the above lyrics were from “Caught in the Middle.” After that is what many claim to be the best non single or song that should have been released as one on the album. Anyone who has any experience of Dio will know “Don’t Talk to Strangers.” Its eerie intro followed by lyrics that can be of sound advice before exploding into pure heavy metal mania with Campbell’s solo probably being the best one on the album. There’s something for everyone to like here. It is most likely the reason why Dio has played this song all five times I’ve seen them live.

Having originally procured “Holy Diver” on cassette, I should go on about side two. However, the age of CD’s and MP3 downloads has made me stop dividing albums into sides. “Straight Through the Heart” is a very powerful rocker and maintains the standard the album sets but after that is my choice for best hidden gem on it, “Invisible.” Don’t ask me to explain why or how but I just love that song. I think it’s the way like “Don’t Talk to Strangers,” it starts melodically before hitting you over the head with more power chords. Those chords may not be quite as in your face as the other song but it does the job.

If your surface stays unbroken, then you’re a lucky man

Cause it never, never, never has for me

In the palace of the virgin lies the chalice of your soul

And it’s likely you will find the answer there.

Again, Ronnie’s lyrics are amazing, especially matched with his truly one of a kind voice. Following “Invisible” is the more known “Rainbow in the Dark,” which maybe was Dio’s most successful single. Hell, I remember in 1984, a Budweiser advert being played to this tune. This is the one song where keyboards play a major role but still, they don’t detract from the power of the song.

Now onto the closer, “Shame on the Night.” If I have to pick a least favourite track, it would have to be this one. Don’t get me wrong, it is no way a bad track, I just don’t rate it quite as high as the other eight but what it does do is close the album very nicely, I guess that’s what Ronnie had in mind with it. That is yet another reason why I think “Holy Diver” is so fantastic.

Track Listing:

  1. Stand Up and Shout
  2. Holy Diver
  3. Gypsy
  4. Caught in the Middle
  5. Don’t Talk To Strangers
  6. Straight Through the Heart
  7. Invisible
  8. Rainbow in the Dark
  9. Shame on the Night
Dio

Dio

Ronnie James Dio- vocals, keyboards

Vivian Campbell- guitar

Jimmy Bain- bass

Vinnie Appice- drums

I don’t give a flying fart as to how cliched this statement sounds but I know in my heart that Jimmy has now joined Ronnie and they are jamming away together in a better place. Probably their former Rainbow band mate, Cozy Powell has joined them and if they had any sense, they would invite Jon Lord to do the honours on the keyboards. However, I can’t think of any guitarist who has played along side of these guys who has departed from our world. Therefore, I would suggest they take Criss Oliva from Savatage as his guitar work would fit Ronnie’s vocals perfectly. Who knows, maybe they would make an album as great as “Holy Diver.”

Next post: Billy Idol

To buy Rock And Roll Children, go to http://www.strategicpublishinggroup.com/title/RockAndRollChildren.html

Also available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Froogle and on sale at Foyles Book Shop in London

Advertisements

10 Responses to “Great Metal Albums of 1983: Dio- Holy Diver”

  1. Yeah! Holy Diver rawkz! Classic

    Like

  2. Nice one! 80’s metal just doesn’t get any better at all.

    Like

  3. Great write-up. I like this one a lot. Some great riffs and Dio really matches them!

    Like

  4. “I don’t give a flying fart as to how cliched this statement sounds but I know in my heart that Jimmy has now joined Ronnie and they are jamming away together in a better place.”

    HAH. I LOVE that you invented the phrase “flying fart”!

    Fantastic loving writeup.

    Like

  5. Totally magical album!

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: