Dio – “The Last In Line” (1984)

Man, even back in 1984 Ronnie James Dio was an old geezer.  Was this guy ever young?

Ever the crusty wizard, the diminutive Dio once again reached out to the disenfranchised youth with his enchanted tales of hungry hearts and dragon’s farts on The Last In Line, his band’s second LP. 

Post-Sabbath, RJD assembled quite a formidable line-up, including the excellent Vivian Campbell on guitar, and the heavy hitting Vinny Appice on drums.  The Last In Line was another crisp, well-produced traditional metal feast.  (RJD produced the album himself.)  For me, the real star of the show here is Vivian Campbell; one of the upper-echelon metal axeman of the day again delivering a fine performance.  Great riffs and great solos all around.  (Apparently, Campbell and Dio had a strained relationship, with Campbell finding Ronnie to be too overbearing as the album’s producer.  Nevertheless, RJD pulled a great performance out of Vivan, even if he was a pain in the ass along the way.)

The Last In Line features two of Dio’s all-time best songs; the adrenaline-injected We Rock, and the essential Dio opus, The Last In Line (I love that cool intro!).  The price paid for the album is well worth it for these two monumental cuts alone!  Both are essential, not only for Dio fans, but heavy metal fans in general.  However, the song quality, like Ronnie’s hairline, receded a bit after the first two cuts.  Biggest complaint for me would have to be the weak chorus refrains offered up by Ronnie (prime example: “SO EAT IT OUT!!!“).  Furthermore, lyrically RJD seems to have rehashed many of his previous ideas, recycling many of his go-to words over and over again.  As for Appice, there was a time when I thought his authoritative mega-fills were the greatest thing since Necco Wafers, but now I find myself a bit distracted by the overabundance of fills on this record.  A minor slight, but nevertheless The Last In Line is another prime Dio plate.  My score: B+

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