Day 5 of the #mayvinylchallenge asks for a record from where you grew up. I didn’t want to cheat with all of NY, since that opens up all the city, and I definitely did not grow up there. Nope, I’m an upstate boy through and through, so options were a bit more limited. Thank to whatever was in the water in Cortland, NY back in the day because it turned a young Ronald James Padavona into the King of Rock and Roll himself, Dio. And though there are betters options to talk about, the only album I have on vinyl (I’m not counting his work with Sabbath or Rainbow) is his final outing with Vivian Campbell, 1985’s Sacred Heart.
By album #3 the Dio machine sounds like a tired kind of running on fumes, and knowing what we know about the friction between with Campbell that led to his firing it’s hard not to inject that into what sounds like Dio-By-Numbers. You have the requisite opening rocker “King of Rock and Roll” which is fine, except it’s nowhere near as good an opener as “We Rock” or “Stand Up and Shout”. Then you have the title track, which hews suspiciously close to the template for “The Last In Line” except again – the added keyboards and forced lyrics about wizards and rainbows keep it from reaching even close to the heights of the previous title track (we won’t even try to compare it to “Holy Diver”).
And on and on. I actually dig “Another Lie” but “Rock and Roll Children” despite some great Dio vocal melodies (one thing that hasn’t remotely diminished over three albums is the man’s ability to weave a vocal melody and sing like a tiny warrior angel) feels tired and overly wrought to get a single out there. Same with “Hungry for Heaven” and it’s obvious ode to The Who. Side 2 actually fares a lot better, being comprised of straight up rockers that the band was so good at whipping up. “Like the Beat of a Heart” continues the trend of good rockers with the word “heart” in the title (see how closely Dio hews to a formula?) and both “Just Another Day” and “Fallen Angels” have enough energy to bring Sacred Heart to its quasi-AC/DC finish with “Shoot Shoot” which I mean as a compliment. It’s actually fun, which is more than I can say for the first half of the album.
Look, it is what it is. Maybe Sacred Heart needed to happen so Dio could bounce back with Dream Evil a few years later (and for my money the even better Lock Up The Wolves) and get everyone on board that this was his vision and the concept of a “band” was really only that – a concept.
Dio was and always be the King of Rock and Roll.
Just not on this album.