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BLACK SABBATH – THE DIO YEARS - WARNER MUSIC
Record Rating: *****

BLACK SABBATH – THE DIO YEARS Many had left Black Sabbath for dead at the end of the 70s, after their wild, popular singer Ozzy Osbourne departed from the band. After playing musical chairs with various singers, guitarist Tony Iommi finally found a dependable front man with Rainbow singer Ronnie James Dio, who made his debut on 1980’s underrated Heaven and Hell. Arguably one of rock’s most powerful voices, Dio worked with Sabbath on one more release (1981’s Mob Rules) before he clashed with Iommi over the mixing of the groups concert album Live Evil, and then departed under a shroud of controversy.

Everybody knows that Sabbath’s legacy rests on their early albums with Ozzy, and countless compilations over the years have paid tribute to them. Black Sabbath ~ The Dio Years is unique for it’s the first that deals solely with the band’s second line-up. Several of the 16 tracks here easily rank among Sabbath’s all-time best, such as the vicious opener Neon Knights, the moody, fast-paced burner Heaven and Hell, and fan favourite Turn Up The Night, which features one of Iommi’s greatest guitar licks.

In addition to the classic cuts, there are three new recordings (The Devil Cried, Shadow Of The Wind and Ear In The Wall) and the definitive live cut of their sweeping epic Children Of The Sea. Iommi was able to reunite the Dio lineup in 1992 for the much forgotten one off Dehumanizer, before Ozzy rejoined the group again, and that’s represented here with TV Crimes, After All (The Dead) and I.

Yet, no matter how good Dio’s songs are, they’ll always be underrated simply because they exist in the shadow of Ozzy’s Paranoid and Master of Reality. Despite the fact Ozzy is missing from this album, The Dio Years will impress hard rock fans, even as it wets the appetite of new metal heads. Bang On.

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