15 years ago my unholy obsession with DIO began. I was a fan growing up, but that fandom didn’t kick into overdrive until I was 32 years old, as I’ve stated before. Well, eight years ago I had just moved to a suburb of Dallas, TX where I was working from home, right? I was in phone sales so naturally I had tunes in the background at all times. It was around this time that several DIO albums were released in two-CD Deluxe Editions. Finally I would have a good copy of an all-time favorite in Sacred Heart. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know everyone flies the flag for Holy Diver, and it will get the C.A. treatment at some point, but on the anniversary weekend of Ronnie’s passing, I thought we’d talk about Sacred Heart for Classic Albums. Sound cool?
While working the phones I found that Heavy Metal was the best music to have on. I closed three deals in rapid succession thanks largely to some OVERKILL and LAMB OF GOD records, so when this remaster came into my life it was like manna from heaven. Listen, I know that Ronnie and guitarist Vivian Campbell were barely speaking and could hardly be in the same room during the recording, I know all that. But sometimes that friction creates some great music. Take THE EAGLES. The Long Run is far and away my favorite album from them, yet the guys hated each other at that moment. Anyway, my point is this record kicks some serious ass. Take opener “King of Rock and Roll.” Yet another example of how you start a metal album!!
Title track “Sacred Heart” is sheer perfection for me, and Claude Schnell’s keyboards really add an extra flavor to the song, especially right before the chorus drops. Every time this one came on I had to put the phone down and just soak it in for six minutes. THEN I’d get back to work. “Another Lie,” man if this didn’t get me motivated to pound the phones I don’t know what would have. Campbell’s riff is fiery, while the rhythm section of Jimmy Bain and Vinny Appice (bass and drums, respectively) drive the groove home. I was more often than not air jamming to this number while running through my sales pitch, believe me.
A quintessential 80’s metal track is next with “Rock and Roll Children.” Those of us who lived it can attest to that. Even more proof positive is the extremely dated video for the song. I love it, though! Take me back to that simpler time, please. “Hungry For Heaven” was and is an all-out anthem for the masses, plus it was featured in the movie Vision Quest. Again, please take me back. I really like Campbell’s solo on this tune; the guy had so much feel. This is a track you pound your chest to before entering the ring. You, not me. I’m not trying to get killed, hear me? “Like the Beat of a Heart,” holy fuck if there is such a thing as a sexy DIO song, this one is it. Ronnie’s vocals cut glass and the band lays down a seductive rhythm that could melt pants off.
I always loved banging my head at my desk whenever “Just Another Day” came on, and I’m doing it as I type this. Fuck me running, it just goes hard. And the way that chorus soars is simply majestic. I know I’m not alone in that thinking, either. “Fallen Angels” is heavy as all get out, and a prime example of just how fucking great this lineup of the band was. The same can be said for closer “Shoot, Shoot.” With a hook that sticks in your head for days, this is not only a great song, but also a perfect closer for a perfect album. When I was living in Red Oak I had so much great music to keep me company at work, but Sacred Heart is one of the recordings that truly stood out. For that, and my Texas memories, it will forever be a Classic Album. R.I.P. Ronnie. You are forever missed. ~dc
IN LOVING MEMORY OF RONNIE JAMES DIO (JULY 10, 1942 – MAY 16, 2010)