Sing It Loud, Ronnie
Few performers command the respect and admiration that Ronnie James Dio did and still does today. Though best remembered as the frontman of metal pioneer Black Sabbath and his own eponymous band, Dio clawed his way up through the ranks with a number of blues-rock acts. The most prominent of these bands, Elf, would later be absorbed into Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow, and the rest is history. This newest offering from the Dio catalogue, And Before Elf…There Were Elves, showcases a young rock god at the start of his long career, and proves that he never missed a step, even from the beginning.
To be exact, the album is a remastered version of Live At The Bank, a 1972 bootleg, recorded as The Elves just before their major label debut. The band, featuring Dio on vocals and bass (yes, Dio played a mean bass, too), is a heavy blues act in the vein of Led Zeppelin and Jimi Hendrix. These influences show on tunes like “You Shook Me” and “Four Day Creep,” with Dio belting out his famous growl and guitarist David Feinstein wailing away. The Elves also show their softer side, with pre-power ballads like “Wakeup Sunshine” and “You Felt The Same Way” heavily featuring keyboardist Micky Lee Soule and vocal harmonies. And not to be missed is Dio screaming out a few verses of “Johnny B Goode” at the end of “Little Queenie.”
The songs are all fine, steady blues-rock tunes, but nothing spectacular. The real treat is hearing a young Ronnie tearing up the microphone with all the power and presence that he would soon bring to Rainbow and Black Sabbath. It’s somehow fitting that the future oldest recipient of Revolver’s “Best Metal Singer” award was amazing right out of the gate, never struggling to find his voice.
Classic rock fans should give this a spin, but you’ve probably heard a lot of these tunes performed with more flair by other artists. However, fans of Ronnie James Dio will definitely want to pick this up, throw some horns, and rock on!