Thanks to Danica for including me in this group post. Please visit her site over at Living a Beautiful Life for a list of all of the bloggers involved
My choice for singer/songwriter is Ronald James Padavona. Who is that? Although Ronald used his given name on early recordings, by 1960 he had adopted the name of Ronnie Dio. By the mid 1970’s his handle was stretched to the name we all know, Ronnie James Dio. (For much of this post I will often shorten it to Dio)
When this group post thing was proposed a while back, I was on a bit of a Dylan kick. He’s possibly the epitome of a singer/songwriter. He has amazing lyrics for sure. Some may argue about his vocal style, but I dig it a lot. He was a folk singers folk singer. He could get up on stage with just an acoustic guitar and captivate thousands of people at a time. That surely is the definition of a singer/songwriter. Isn’t it? I thought about it a lot. Does the person in question have to fit into the traditional mold of a singer/songwriter? What about a blues artist? What about a punk artist? What about a rapper? What about country?
Then I thought. What about metal? Who fits the mold? I love a lot of metal vocalists, but my favourite of time is Ronnie James Dio. Then there is the songwriter portion. Right from the earliest days in the late 1950’s, right up until his death in 2010, Ronnie either wrote, or co-wrote most, if not all of the songs he sang. His music evolved from the doo-wop tunes of his early bands, then to the melting pot of blues/jazz/southern rock that was Elf. Perhaps the biggest transition though, and one that would shape the rest of Dio’s career, was joining up with Ritchie Blackmore in the band Rainbow. Ritchie had this sort of mystical side that involved Black Magic, castles, spirits and all that goes along with it. I’m not sure if Dio had that side of him before Rainbow, but he certainly was on board. The first album to feature this side of Dio, and one in which he wrote all of the original song lyrics, is the one I have chosen today. It’s the first album by Rainbow entitled Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow. Here we go.
Man On The Silver Mountain – What a song to begin a band, an album and a new career in metal off with. This song kicks ass and takes names. So, so, so good. This is a top 10 song for me. Top 10 Dio track. Top 10 Blackmore track. Quite possibly top 10 hard rock/metal track too. With Ritchie Blackmore on guitar and Dio on vocals, how could it not be. I can only assume Ronnie held it up in great regard since the words inscribed on his tombstone are “The man on the silver mountain Ronnie James Dio”.
Self Portrait – “Paint me your picture..color it darkly the lines must start to crawl…draw me away from the night to the day…paint me a picture of eyes that never see with flashes of lightning that burn for only me…there`s only the devil to pay…and I feel like going down…“
Black Sheep Of The Family – A Quartermass cover about a penniless man with a dog and a beard full of lice. The faster, upbeat pace of the song is in direct contrast to the sad tale of the poor black sheep. This song just so happened to be the nail in the Deep Purple coffin as far as Ritchie was concerned. They refused to record it, and that was it. Ritchie was done.
Catch The Rainbow – The slower pace mixed with amazing slide guitar work and Dio`s wonderfully captivating voice make this one a fan favourite.
I contemplate flipping the wax over, but listen to side A one more time. Dio has that effect on me.
Snake Charmer – Ritchie Blackmore using a wah pedal, cowbell, and lyrics and vocals by Dio. Good thing no one else is around to see me wearing this lobster bib to catch the drool.
The Temple Of The King – We get a feel of the vocal style that would become my favourite in metal. Dio has a snarl to his voice in this one that will come to light many times over the years. This is another fan favourite. Amazing guitar work. Wonderful vocals. Cool lyrics. “One day in the year of the fox came a time remembered well when the strong young man of the rising sun heard the tolling of the great black bell…daylight waits while the old man sings `Heaven help me` and then like a the rush of a thousand wings it shines upon the one and the day had just begun…with just one touch of a strong right hand they know of the temple and the king“
If You Don`t Like Rock n` Roll – (We can`t be friends any more.) This one sounds like something Burton Cummings (Guess Who) would have done if he had just got off a 3 week long bender of drinking 18 cases of bourbon and smoking 38 cartons of Marlboro`s
Sixteenth Century Greensleeves – There`s the Dio vocal style we all know and love. The growling yeahhhh heahhhh heahhhh`s, the accentuation of fiiiire, hiiiigher,and liiiiight. Awesome. This song was about the castle in which the Black Knight lives. The Black Knight in question being Ritchie Blackmore. Dio was able to incorporate lyrics that Blackmore obsessed about including knights, crossbows, and castles. Another fan favourite for good reason. This was going to be the b side to Black Sheep Of The Family on the side project Blackmore was doing in 1974. It turned into Rainbow instead.
Still I`m Sad – A fast guitar and even faster cowbell beat that would please even Christopher Walken. This Yardbirds cover was an instrumental version on the album for some reason, but the live versions all feature vocals. I would have preferred the vocals, but this song is pretty cool.