Dio – Dream Evil (1987, Warner Bros.)
- Night People
- Dream Evil
- Sunset Superman
- All The Fools Sailed Away
- Naked In The Rain
- I Could Have Been A Dreamer
- Faces In The Window
- When A Woman Cries
Ronnie James Dio – Vocals
Craig Goldy – Guitars
Jimmy Bain – Bass
Vinny Appice – Drums
Claude Schnell – Keyboards
Total Time – 44:03
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.
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’.
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…..