The Elves (Featuring Ronnie James Dio)
And Before Elf...There Were Elves
Niji Entertainment Group - 2011
Since the passing of the legendary Ronnie James Dio, his Niji Entertainment Group has put out some interesting material in their archival program.
This release is along that archival path. Before he fronted his own solo group, before fronting Black Sabbath, Heaven and Hell, Rainbow or Elf, Dio was fronting Elves.
The packaging for the CD has a hologram cover that is pretty fun. However, I was disappointed that the inside booklet contained a brief mini essay about the recordings on the album.
The songs have a very raw sound to it as this material dates back nearly 40 years. You can actually still hear that slight hiss you would hear on LPs on some of the cuts. The songs range from studio cuts and live tracks.
The disc opens with a cover of the song "You Shook Me", the blues song written by Willie Dixon and J.B. Lenoir and made initially famous by Muddy Waters. It is perhaps best known for being recorded by Led Zeppelin on their debut album.
The second song is another cover song, this time "Stay With Me" from The Faces. In spots Dio's voice sounds a little strained but otherwise a good song.
"Buckingham Blues" is very raw and aggressive. There is a slightly trippy feel to "Driftin'". "Drown Me In The River" is another hard rocking aggression filled number. I liked "Cold Ramona" and "Little Queenie" which actually finishes up with a cover of "Johnny B. Good".
The outstanding track on the disc is the far slower tempo "Smile For Me Lady". It is an early showcase of the beauty of Dio's vocals.
This may be considered an archival release but in readying to review the album, I've played this album about 10 times. Dio may have reigned as a metal god, but his early days fronting a more classic rock sounding band are shone in a bright light with this album.
It is a far different sound for the Dio you may be aware of, but I think you'll find that early or legendary, once more Dio reigns supreme.
GRADE: A MINUS