Review by Richard Henry for MPM
Now this is going to be a hard sell, I love Dio and I love Paul Gilbert, but can the two work on an album?? I have only really heard one album like this that worked and that was Andy Timmons Plays Sgt Pepper, but with that said, let’s crack on and see what we have here!
Track 1 – Holy Diver
Keyboard drone kicks off with some slide guitars peppering it, before we kick into the riff, production is good, everything sounds full, we have a fuzz guitar playing the vocal melody, then the Holy Diver part he adds some harmonies which carry on into Verse 2, nice touch as it differentiates the two verses, so the start of the solo he plays 100% like Viv’s solo but then he starts to change it into Paul Gilbert, before then keep Viv’s part then playing a bit more of his own style, good mix and I think clever from the point of view that it’s a classic solo so keeping some of the parts works well
Track 2 – Neon Knights
Off to Black Sabbath now, same sort of idea where you have the bulk of the song you know with the instrumentation and the guitar is following the vocal track that Ronnie would do, I mean the inflections are there and I can see where Paul has tried to really match the phrasing of the vocal, bit of slide guitar in this one as well which works great, I think for the solo he has matched the tones really well, and yet again you have the mix of some of Iommi’s phrases with Paul then playing his own stuff as well and mixing the two styles up, nice outro solo on this one as well.
Track 3 – Kill the King
Nice touch starting with the crowd noise chanting Ronnies name, bit of Rainbow again and we have hammond organ added to this one, it’s no surprise that the guitar is playing the vocal melody and all the other instrumentation is as expected, love the keys/guitar harmony section, now there is 100% Paul Gilbert in that solo, full on shred in this, which hey Richie was known to do, it’s just a bit faster when Paul does it!
Track 4 – Stand Up and Shout
That riff, it’s so good, I will add nice drumming on this following the fills on the original, it’s more of the same with Paul following Ronnies vocal melody pretty much exactly, nice slide guitar on the vocals in the chorus section, again pretty much following Viv’s solo for a good section before hitting his own at the end of the solo, again nice to hear the two styles combining! The harmonies on the end are too major and sweet sounding for me to be fair, it works but maybe could have been a bit darker sounding!
Track 5 – Country Girl
Black Sabbaths Mob Rules album is up next, this is a slow dragger of a song, and this version sounds a lot cleaner than the original which had a bit more grit to the sound, it sounds great when it gets to the cleaner section but I’m not sure this song works as well as the other three before it, great solo as expected but this is one that’s not working for me
Track 6 – Man on the Silver Mountain
Now he has got that guitar sound spot on in that intro, sounds really close to Blackmores, I love the way he has put that classical counterpoint melody a bit further back from the main vocal/guitar line, yeah it’s the way it is in the original but it would be tempting to put the flashier part a bit further forward in the mix, bit more of a bluesy solo on this then interspersed with a bit more of Paul’s style, works well on this one!
Track 7 – Heaven and Hell
Back to Sabbath yet again, I mean the riffs are the riffs you can’t fault them, it’s what you do to make the song different enough to the original to make it work, the subtle way he plays the vocal in the verse of this is cool, and lighter and heavier touch, second verse adding a harmony in the back ground as well as the vocal melody yet again splits it up slightly, nice play with delay in the middle section of this, again it’s the parts of the song where you get to hear Paul as a lot of the rest of it is just a bit of a different play on the vocal, as the actual tracks never stray too far away from the original.
Track 8 – Long Live Rock & Roll
Get your boogie on, it’s funny, hearing this version I am thinking, this could be ZZ Top, yet I have never thought that with the original version, this version seems playful, and it seems to lift the track up a bit more than the other songs, great solo on this and shows how Paul really gets to stretch out on these songs!
Track 9 – Lady Evil
I never heard how much the start of this is like Smoke on the Water until I listened to it on here, not so sure that the Sabbath tracks work as well for this sort of treatment as much as the Rainbow or Dio stuff, primarily because it’s so riff based that the guitar really isn’t doing anything but coping the vocal exactly, I mean any guitar player would love to mimic the human voice and I am certainly not suggesting it’s easy to do, but it’s also not adding anything to the original to make it really stand out?
Track 10 – Don’t Talk to Strangers
The track itself is as you would expect, I mean the way he plays the vocal melody is subtle and with nuance at the start of the track, things like the note Ronnie holds as the band hit in, that added the intensity in the original just aren’t there with the guitar feeding back to mimic it, he does a great job in the solo and for me being a Northern Irish guitarist, changing Viv’s solo is sacrilege but I actually really like what Paul did again adding his own twist while keeping sone of the original pieces of the solo!
Track 11 – Starstruck
Back to Rainbow, this song always reminded me of something Rory Galagher would have played at the start of it, it has that vibe to it, again it seems to be the Rainbow and Dio stuff lends itself more to this treatment than Sabbath with this having a more playful vibe overall, love the solo on this where he definitely is playing slide guitar on it!
Track 12 – The Last in Line
I mean it’s a classic, and I have heard Viv do this with Last in Line, and again its well done but when Ronnie sings Home and holds it, the guitar just doesn’t convey that emotion as much as I can see what Paul did with the feedback and delay on it, it just lacks the power, and that’s the problem, nice work with the harmony part at the chorus, again with the solo he keeps a bit of that Vivian vibe but then adds his own thing, and it works 100%!
Ok, so I think the problem is, that whilst I appreciate the skill it takes to convey a vocal through the guitar, for the most part it’s really the power that Ronnies voice had that just doesn’t come through with the likes of a reworking like this, I think the solos are well done and I love the mix of parts of the original as well as adding his own style, but ultimately I just wanted to go listen to the original.
I think it’s awesome that Paul has done the album and is a massive Dio fan and I 100% appreciate the amount of work must have gone into doing this, and I would say to anyone to give it a listen and see what you think, I mean as a completist I have all of Paul’s albums so I will get it but I think I would have preferred a new solo album?
I think it’s just too like the originals, it’s not like Andy Timmons Beatles album where he rearranged it and did something different with it, it’s just the track as it is but replacing one of the best singers ever with the guitar playing the vocal and that’s where it falls down for me.
7 out of 10
Heaven And He’ll from The Dio Album. Pre-order: https://lnk.to/PaulGilbert
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