Dio | The Sacred Heart: Live In Philly 1986 / Magica – CD Review


By the mid 80s, Ronnie James Dio had well established himself as a solo artist with three albums under his belt. Guitarist Vivian Campbell left after the Sacred Heart album, opening the door for former Giuffria guitarist Craig Goldy. Unlike Campbell, Goldy’s history with Dio was more convivial and extensive – and now that history is being celebrated in two reissues: Finding The Sacred Heart – Live In Philly 1986 and Magica, the long out-of-print concept album from 2000 that saw the return of Goldy after a 13-year gap. As it was, the guitarist would be the last one to play with the Dio band.

Finding The Sacred Heart – Live In Philly 1986 was recorded at the Spectrum in Philadelphia on June 17, 1986 during the second leg of the “Sacred Heart” tour, which Goldy joined after Campbell’s departure. The show was originally issued on VHS and then DVD, but now it’s also on Blu-ray, CD and as a double LP in the original running order, all with remastered sound. In addition to Dio and Goldy, the line-up featured drummer Vinny Appice, bassist Jimmy and keyboardist Claude Schnell.

With a giant dragon watching from overhead, Dio and his band run through the biggies of the day – “Holy Diver,” “Don’t Talk To Strangers,” “Rock ‘n’ Roll Children,” “Sacred Heart,” “Stand Up And Shout,” “Rainbow In The Dark,” and “We Rock.” They also cover songs from Dio’s time from Black Sabbath (Children Of The Sea,” “Heaven And Hell”) and Rainbow (“Long Live Rock ‘n’ Roll,” “Man On The Silver Mountain”). Bonus features on the DVD and Blu-ray include a Sacred Heart Tour featurette, interviews with Dio and Goldy, the “Rock ‘n’ Roll Children” music video and a Behind The Scenes feature.

In 2000, Goldy returned to the Dio fold to record the conceptual Magica. After having gone through the Sabbath mill once again the early 90s, followed by a couple low-key solo efforts, Dio dug deep for this science fiction/fantasy tale steeped in utopian lore. With Goldy on guitar, Jimmy Bain on bass, drummer Simon Wright and keyboardist Scott Warren, the album represents a step away from the atypical metal of the day, with layers of keys and strings to refine the verses. Tracks like the melodic “Fever Dreams,” “Turn To Stone” and “As Long As It’s Not About Love” reach beyond the dungeons and dragons of the 80s, revealing a significant growth in Dio’s ability to write, conceive and record pieces of a provocative magnitude.

The deluxe version of Magica, coming from Niji Entertainment Group, include two CDs – the original album comprising the first one, and the second filled with special extras, including “The Magica Story” with an insightful narration from Dio himself, “Annica,” a bonus track only previously available in Japan, and “Electra,” apparently one of the last songs Dio recorded for planned for Magica 2 and 3 sequels. There’s also a handful of live Magica songs from 2000/2001.

Even as he returned to Sabbath a third time, this time rechristening it Heaven & Hell, Ronnie James Dio was still exploring vast musical textures with a number of collaborators. Since his passing in 2010, many are discovering the vast musical treasures of his past, as well as unearthed gems and ideas intended for the future. Long live rock ‘n roll!

~ Shawn Perry

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