Paul Gilbert : The Dio Album

Paul Gilbert is an 80s guitar vituoso survivor. He was one of THE 80s guitar shredders, coming out of the Guitar Institute of Technology in the mid-80s in Los Angeles and formed the speed metal band Racer X, recording on Mike Varney’s Shrapnel Records. But his biggest gig was the pop metal band Mr. Big, alongside bassist Billy Sheehan, where they competed with Extreme as the most technically proficient rock band to put out a sing-a-long acoustic ballad(“To Be With You”). Gilbert stuck around till the mid-90s before leaving to work on solo work.

Despite the late 80s/early 90s pop success, Gilbert continued to put out albums on his own, mostly instrumental records but there were a few where he sang. His guitar skills and uncanny love for classic rock kept his work relatable and never exclusive to guitar nerds. His last record, Behold: Electric Guitar showcased his newfound love of slide guitar and his knack for melody-driven songs.

The latest album from Paul Gilbert is simply titled The Dio Album. It’s as you probably guessed, a Ronnie James Dio tribute record. Gilbert coveres songs from Dio’s entire career; from Rainbow to Sabbath to his prolific solo career. And Paul Gilbert plays all the vocal parts on his guitar. It’s a must for both guitar nerds and metalheads alike.

There’s not much to explain here, just 12 tracks of Ronnie James Dio covers. Gilbert doesn’t try and shake things up by changing the greatness that came before. He sticks to the blueprints and respects metal greatness. Opening with “Neon Knights”(Sabbath) is the perfect way to bring us in; driving rhythm, proto metal guitar, and Gilbert bringing Dio’s vocals back from the great beyond through his guitar playing. Of course, the solo is nothing short of face-melting. The groove-heavy “Kill The King” locks into Rainbow’s original speed metal riffing and organ-heavy vibe. Not many can emulate Ritchie Blackmore’s exquisite playing. Paul Gilbert is one of the chosen few.

Elsewhere, Gilbert tips his hat to classics like Dio solo work(“The Last In Line”, “Stand Up And Shout”, “Holy Diver”) as well as Sabbath’s “Heaven and Hell” and “Lady Evil”, and Rainbow classiscs “Man On The Silver Mountain” and “Starstruck”. In short, any fan of Dio’s discography is going to find an “Oh yeah!” moment on this album.

Paul Gilbert’s The Dio Album is the perfect way to relive the greatness that was Ronnie James Dio, as well as bask in the virtuosic playing of one of the greatest guitar players still doing impeccable work 40 years in.

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