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Strange Highways

Dio

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Album Review

The final Warner Bros. release for Dio after an 11-year run of hard-edged post-Sabbath recordings, Strange Highways is almost a return to early '80s form for a group that hadn't done anything particularly inspiring since 1984's Last in Line. Joining the band's namesake vocalist Ronnie James Dio on this 1994 release is an all-star lineup, including long-time drumming cohort Vinny Appice, bassist Jeff Pilson (most notably of Dokken, and an nice addition to the group, especially live), and unknown guitarist Tracy G. Dio is in fine voice as usual, especially on "Hollywood Black" and the emotive opener "Jesus, Mary & the Holy Ghost." G. provides a nice, generally staccato guitar flow that harkens back to the glory days when Vivian Campbell filled the six-string slot in the group's finest lineup. Original drummer Appice seems to have lost some energy, tone, and sharpness by the time of this release, which is too bad considering that he had formerly personified all those qualities. As a unit, however, Dio prove they can lay down some deadly riffs, as songs like "Pain" and "Firehead" keep a nice momentum going throughout this return to solo work for Ronnie James Dio after a brief second tour of duty with Black Sabbath. Strange Highways is a solid effort with some of Dio's better late-career material, powerful singing, and strong performances from G. and Pilson.

Biography

Formed: 1983

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

For a brief spell during the mid-'80s, the heavy metal quintet Dio were one of the top U.S. concert attractions, boasting one of the most over the top stage acts of its time loaded with props and special effects (lasers, explosions, a giant dragon, etc.). The group's leader was singer Ronnie James Dio, who had previously become acquainted with the metal masses as the frontman of Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow from 1975-1978 and Black Sabbath from 1979-1982. Come the early '80s, Ronnie James was ready...
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Strange Highways, Dio
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