Dio – Dream Evil (1987)

Dio - Dream Evil

Dio – Dream Evil (1987, Warner Bros.)

  1. Night People
  2. Dream Evil
  3. Sunset Superman
  4. All The Fools Sailed Away
  5. Naked In The Rain
  6. Overlove
  7. I Could Have Been A Dreamer
  8. Faces In The Window
  9. When A Woman Cries

Band Lineup:
Ronnie James Dio – Vocals
Craig Goldy – Guitars
Jimmy Bain – Bass
Vinny Appice – Drums
Claude Schnell – Keyboards

Total Time – 44:03

Ronnie James Dio official website

After releasing two classic landmark Heavy Metal albums, Dio stumbled slightly with the more commercial SACRED HEART (1985). It was another success story for the band but was panned by some as lighter than the previous albums. For the follow-up, DREAM EVIL, guitarist Vivian Campbell was replaced by former Giuffria axeman, and Ritchie Blackmore disciple, Craig Goldy. With new blood on guitar, Ronnie James Dio set his sights on a return to the heaviness of HOLY DIVER (1983) and THE LAST IN LINE (1984).

DREAM EVIL starts off with the speed rocker ‘Night People’ that immeadiately takes the listener back four years to the debut. Right away, Ronnie’s voice is in top form and Goldy displays his finger acrobatics with a killer riff and vicious solo. The title track has a guitar intro that sounds very similar to the one that begins ‘Man On The Silver Mountain’ by RJD’s old band, Rainbow. The main riff may draw similarities but the song is an anthem that sits well among other Dio classics ‘Holy Diver’ and ‘Rainbow In The Dark’.

‘Sunset Superman’ is another uptempo track that follows the normal Dio formula until the chorus which tends to be the weak link. Vinny Appice lays down that pounding drum sound during the chorus and solo break. The song sounds like two different ideas completely, the band coming up with another Dio classic but taking it in a different direction with the chorus. Not sure on the title either, I get thrown off by the word “superman”. It’s not one of my favorite tracks but it still fits within the Dio framework. ‘All The Fools Sailed Away’ slows it down for seven minutes and is the epic showcase of the album. It’s a combination of Rainbow meets HEAVEN & HELL era Black Sabbath with more keyboard rather than Hammond Organ. Ronnie’s voice really shines and the interplay between Goldy and Schnell lends the song more depth. The Sabbath trend continues with ‘Naked In The Rain’. It’s a thick song, Goldy doing a Tony Iommi-lite impression. It sounds like it could fit on HEAVEN & HELL from the Sabbath days.

Another Rainbow-esque guitar intro starts the uptempo ‘Overlove’. Appice and Bain turning in another solid backbone while Goldy does more Blackmore with the main riff. Schnell is subdued, just sprinkling the keyboards and letting the guitar shine. The first single off the album, ‘I Could Have Been A Dreamer’, is an average song for the band. It’s a slower number that is fine until the chorus. Even though it’s catchy, very sing-a-long, it’s a bit weak and un-Dio probably due to the overt keyboards that layer the song. The weakness of the chorus makes the lyrics seem a bit cheesy but RJD has always been about dreams, rainbows, and shooting stars. A very commercial song that sounds right at home on the previous offering, SACRED HEART.

Going faster with ‘Faces In The Window’, Goldy provides the main gallop riff while layering the guitars. Schnell at his best subdued and providing a bit of depth. It’s a breath of fresh air after ‘I Could Have Been A Dreamer’ with the band continuing where they left off after ‘Overlove’. The Appice drum intro signals ‘When A Woman Cires’ and the song takes on a Rainbow/Sabbath feel until Schnell comes in with a diddling keyboard riff. I like the keyboard layer on the chorus, it makes it sound mystical and mysterious, very Rainbow. It’s that annoying fingering during the song that bothers me. The main guitar sounds like Sabbath but not as heavy. The man at the mic turning in another stellar performance.

Bottom Line:
I’ve long considered DREAM EVIL to be the “lost” Dio album. It went Gold in the U.S. but it had the hard tasks of following three superb Dio records AND competing in the overcrowded landscape that was Heavy Metal in 1987. Maybe the use of a stronger song for the first single might have helped but I do remember the video getting a lot of airplay on MTV. The album is a blend of Ronnie’s career, from Rainbow through Sabbath to Dio, and it sounds more like a continuation of Dio’s first two albums. Craig Goldy provides a fresh contribution to the guitar slot and replaces Vivian Campbell easily, maybe adding a little more meat to the Dio sound. Of course, the Appice/Bain rhythm section turning in another solid performance and the man himself proving why he is considered a master of the vocal craft. This is an album that many need to re-discover. Favorite tracks: ‘Night People’, ‘Dream Evil’, ‘All The Fools Sailed Away’.

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March Metal Madness is going strong and we are only on Week 2! If you read this review, you can get three more unique perspectives on this album by heading over to Hard Rock Hideout, Heavy Metal Time Machine, and Pulses, Verses, and Other Flotsam. We are reviewing one album together each Monday in March and we have only just begun to discuss the classic Metal of 1987. Next Monday (3/19) there will be a round of reviews on the debut from Testament – THE LEGACY. Are you ready for some speed? Some thrash? Some Testament?! Stay tuned…..

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8 comments on “Dio – Dream Evil (1987)

  1. Yeah, great review like all your reviews Steve. Realy great. Anyway, i love this album and its much better then LOCK UP THE WOLVES (i think that is realy the “lost” DIO album from the 80s, in my opinion of course).
    DIO FOREVER, FOREVER DIO.

  2. Nice job, bud. I still really do like “Sunset Superman” for its groove, though. Punch, punch. Maybe people are discovering it, but they’ll have to hit Amazon or CD Universe to get it! I ran all over the place trying to get the damned thing and ended up borrowing Mark’s copy! I lost my tape of this ages ago and was mindful to replace in on CD, but never did.

  3. Rob – Yeah, I think we all enjoyed it. I think the next two albums will be a little more varied.

    Mark – I think it got overlooked because there was no big single. 1987′s biggest successes had that big single. I hope people go back and rediscover it because it’s a solid record.

    Rene – Thanks. LOCK UP THE WOLVES was a change in style but Rowan Robertson was an awesome guitarist at 16.

    Ray – I just get thrown off by the title and chorus. It’s a good track but I can’t get by those two things. BTW, I can get the album on disc for $9.99 at the local shop, I saw it the other day, new/sealed.

  4. I first heard this album when I borrowed it along with a whole bunch of other Dio CD’s from a friend (About 95% of Dio’s back catalogue is either out of print or just really hard to find, shame! there’s some great music there that too many are missing out on). I had either owned or heard the other ones on other mediums (vinyl and tapes, etc.) and i sort of overlooked this one. I just re-discovered it the other day when i found a NEW… yes i was extremely surprised as well… CD of this album for 6 bucks at the record store i frequent. I grabbed it for the sake of completing my Dio CD collection. I found myself being pleasantly surprised, this album was a lot better than i remembered it being. There is some great stuff hear and I really do agree that this gets overlooked. A lot better than the album before it. Just thought I’d share my re-discovery story.

  5. This was a pretty good album, Dios’ vocals were still really strong and there are some good melodies here too. Unfortunately there is some cheese- the childrens choir in ‘fools’ sounds pretty corny now, and so do some of the keyboards. Still, it has plenty of Dios’ classy metal compositions, it would really come up great with a remaster/remix, I think.

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