Three years after his death, Ronnie James Dio remains one of heavy metal's most popular and enduring vocalists, and the stream of posthumous album releases shows no signs of slowing.
Three albums and two videos have been released in recent weeks, spanning his career from the frontman for Rainbow in the 1970s through his successful solo career.
"Rainbow Live In Munich 1977" (Eagle Rock) features a full concert from Rainbow at its best. Led by guitarist Ritchie Blackmore, the band rips into the incendiary concert opener "Kill The King," then settles into an extended groove on "Mistreated," which features intricate and delicate interplay between Blackmore's Fender Strat and Dio's voice. "Catch The Rainbow" showcases Dio's multi-octave range, quiet and tender here, and raw and rising there.
"Finding The Sacred Heart: Live in Philly 1986" (Eagle Rock) finds Dio, his post-Black Sabbath solo band, at the height of its popularity. The 1986 show at the Philadelphia Spectrum showcases Dio's flair for showmanship, including his artful blending of hits into live medleys — "The Last In Line" segues into "Children Of the Sea" and "Holy Diver" before returning to the original track. But it is his signature track, "Heaven And Hell," recorded with Black Sabbath that forever defines Dio as a singer and songwriter, with its vivid imagery, dramatic pacing and soaring vocals.
Both those releases are available on CD, DVD and Blu-ray.
"Magica: Deluxe Edition" (Niji Entertainment) is a re-release of Dio's 2000 concept album about a plant of wizards and magicians that was overrun by evil, requiring an epic battle to save the few remaining souls there. It's one of his more obscure and poorer-selling albums, but it serves as a window into one of Dio's true passions: The imaginative realms of fancy, particularly medieval and other-worldly realms and of course, the eternal contrast and contest between good and evil that has marked all of Dio's work from its earliest days.
The re-release includes a bonus disc of Dio narrating the story of "Magica," some extra tracks elaborating on characters from it, and previously unreleased live cuts from the "Magica" tour.
Other releases include a pair of albums put out in the months after Dio's May 2010 death: "At Donington UK: Live 1983 & 1987," and "Neon Nights: 30 Year of Haven & Hell," a live album from his final tour in 2009 with Black Sabbath.
Wayne Parry can be reached at http://twitter.com/WayneParryAC