Originally released back in 2005 (although a DVD had come out a couple of years before), Evil or Divine – Live in New York City (BMG) was recorded on Dio‘s 2002 world tour and still holds up as a great live representation of the band at that point. Promoting the Killing the Dragon (Spitfire) album, the title track is joined by ‘Push’, ‘Rock & Roll’ and ‘Guilty’, with ‘Fever Dreams’ and ‘Lord of the Last Day’ from Magica (Spitfire) making up the rest of their more modern entries.
Now, while none of those are even close to being poor songs, every other cut on the album is simply a solid gold classic, easing the newer material effortlessly into the shade. No matter how good they might be, there’s simply no arguing with ‘Stand Up and Shout’, ‘Egypt (The Chains Are On)’, ‘Rainbow in the Dark’, ‘We Rock’, ‘Holy Diver’, ‘Don’t Talk to Strangers’ and ‘The Last in Line’, and that’s without even mentioning the Black Sabbath and Rainbow inclusions such as ‘Heaven and Hell’, ‘Children of the Sea’, and ‘Man on the Silver Mountain’. Although including a drum solo just four tracks in does sap the momentum somewhat.
Joining legendary frontman Ronnie James Dio for this recording are guitarist Doug Aldrich, bassist Jimmy Bain, drummer Simon Wright, and Scott Warren on Keyboards. Obviously Dio steals the show completely but the musicianship behind him is first rate, resulting in a solid live recording that needs more love than it received first time around. Bonus material (featured on the vinyl versions only) includes studio versions of ‘Fever Dreams’ and ‘Push’ plus ‘This Is Your Life’ from Angry Machines (Mayhem)and ‘The Eyes’ from Master Of The Moon (Sanctuary).
7 / 10
Performing Dio’s 1983 classic debut in its entirety, Holy Diver – Live (BMG) was recorded at the now-demolished and much-missed London Astoria in 2005. Featuring much the same line-up as Evil or Divine, the only change is four-stringer Jimmy Bain being replaced by the legend that is Rudy Sarzo, his bass playing a surprisingly prominent role in the mix.
After the Holy Diver portion of the set concludes (complete with another lengthy Simon Wright drum solo), the rest of the show becomes a greatest hits package, stuffed to the brim with classics like ‘Tarot Woman’, ‘Sign of the Southern Cross’, ‘One Night in the City’, ‘Gates of Babylon’, ‘Heaven and Hell’, Man on the Silver Mountain’ ‘Catch the Rainbow/Long Live Rock and Roll’, and closer ‘We Rock’.
For the most part, Dio’s voice is just as strong, vibrant and forceful as ever, although some (very) brief but entirely understandable signs of strain are occasionally evident. Enriched by a thick, beefy mix, the reissue also boasts specially commissioned brand new artwork meaning that Holy Diver – Live now not only sounds great but looks even better too.
8 / 10