Intermission (EP)


Warner, 1986

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


After three successful albums fronting his self-named band, Ronnie James Dio was at a crossroads.

His lead guitarist Vivian Campbell was no longer in the band, and had been replaced with Craig Goldy, formerly of Rough Cutt and Giuffria. But the new lineup hadn’t recorded a full album yet, and as usual, the music industry’s motto was to keep new product in front of the fans before they forget about you.

From that scene was born Intermission, a six-song live EP that featured one new studio track. Like most of Dio’s output to this point, it’s good, but it could have been better.

Let’s knock out the studio track, “Time To Burn,” first. Included because Dio wanted some iteration of the new band featured on the disc, this gives a slight taste as to what my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Dream Evil would offer the listener shortly afterwards. Is it a great track? No, but it’s better than a lot of the stuff that was on Sacred Heart. For his part, Goldy is a competent guitarist, but doesn’t have the same swagger in his playing that Campbell had—and the difference is noticeable.

The five live tracks—one of which is a medley combining “Rock ‘N’ Roll Children” with two songs from Dio’s time with Rainbow—are the main issue. It’s not that the performances are bad; it’s just that they leave the listener wanting more. This disc could have been developed into a full-length live disc, rather than clocking in at a mere 34 minutes—just under a half hour if you leave off “Time To Burn.” That’s barely enough time for the typical concertgoer to ignore the opening act and hit the concession stands.

I don’t know for certain whether Dio was serving as an opening act at this time, or if he was headlining—though the complexity of his stage show suggests he was the headliner by 1986. That alone makes me wonder why more wasn’t released, and why Dio felt he had to sandwich several songs into one longer take.

What is represented on Intermission is good enough to get the listener through. With three of the songs being culled from Sacred Heart, you do feel like you’re sitting in the audience, feeling the heat as the flashpots are fired off. Dio himself is in fine voice, and the band (recorded when Campbell was still part of the lineup) sounds tight. But, you’ll wonder why songs like “Holy Diver” or “Don’t Talk To Strangers” didn’t make the cut, while “The Last In Line” was almost included at the end of a song as an afterthought.

It would be another 12 years before Dio released a full-length live effort, so for the longest time, unless you dipped into the home video market, Intermission was the only live album Dio fans could get their hands on. It’s an enjoyable album to listen to, but it is akin to Chinese food—after 34 minutes, don’t be surprised if you find yourself craving more.

Rating: B-

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