DIO, The Collection  (2003, Spectrum)

The skull:
It hasn’t been an easy road for Kane Roberts since Alice Cooper sent the musclebound guitarist packing. Looking to expand on his solo album work, he took on a mythological musical persona, bearing a hammer-shaped guitar and dubbing himself the God of Thunder. This project performed the kind of goofy heavy metal you’d expect. But that failed before it ever really took off when Thor (the crappy Canadian singer, not the actual god) sent him a cease and desist. He then auditioned for Manowar, and even though DeMaio was impressed with Kane’s physique, they chose a guy whose muscle was more musical than physical (the gangly Karl Logan, he of the awesome bangs). Depressed and desperate for a gig (steroids ain’t cheap), Kane was hired as a hand model. It was embarrassing work. Years flew by and he saw his metal glory days slipping into the past with each gray, desolate day. Then, in 2003, some bullshit record label called Spectrum brought in a skull for Kane to model with. Upon learning that this photo shoot was being used for a greatest hits album by Dio, the guitarist schmoozed around until he got Ronnie himself on the phone. “Hey Ronnie, I really respect your work. I’d love to play guitar with you someday. Do you currently have an opening?” Said Ronnie, “Sorry man, I just hired Craig Goldy back. I reckon he’ll be with me till the day I die.” And that is exactly what happened. Kane Roberts hand models to this day. He lives in Flint, Michigan with his wife, 17 dobermans, and an old snake inherited from Cooper. He still plays guitar, and plays it better than that Goldy twerp.

The music:
I’m not sure who buys these sorts of releases, but I never want to meet these people, whoever they are. If you’re a Dio fan — and you damn well better be — you’ll have all this stuff already. Maybe a couple of live tracks escaped you, but do you really need those that bad? There’s no use dissecting the track listing at any great length. You get all the stuff you’d expect of such a cash-grab, at least from the first three albums. It also offers the “dream duo” from Dream Evil (“Dream Evil” and “I Could Have Been a Dreamer”), and throws a bone to the underrated Lock Up the Wolves as well as Strange Highways by offering one from each. Not quite as redundant and pointless as any given collection of, say, Motorhead songs, but pretty close. (Also, what’s the deal with Sacred Heart? Not a great album.)

— Friar Wagner

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