Concept albums are typically reserved for the realm of rock music that is progressive rock. Bands the likes of Pink Floyd, Dream Theater, and The Flower Kings have been largely linked to concept albums through rock’s history. Apparently during his lifetime, nobody had sent this message to rock icon Ronnie James Dio; either that or he got the message and didn’t care. Regardless of which argument holds more truth, the ultimate truth is that Dio proved that commonly held belief to be entirely untrue with the release of his groundbreaking album, Magica. Now thanks to Niji Entertainment, Dio’s ever growing legion of fans can experience this work once more.
Over a decade has passed since Magica was originally released on Spitfire Records. And three years have now passed since the world lost Ronnie James Dio. In the time since RJD’s passing, a lot has changed in the music industry. Thankfully, Niji Entertainment has re-issued this landmark album and reminded audiences that it is still possible for rock to be more than down-tuned guitars and indecipherable cookie monster growls. It is a true treat for Dio fans of all ages. The album’s new deluxe re-issue offers the original story of Magicka completely restored and sounding as good as ever. The soaring string instrumentations that accompany the band add a beautiful counterpart to the band’s heaviness throughout the record. And Dio’s vocals were in prime form on this record, as long-time fans will attest.
The primary disc’s re-issue is outstanding to say the least. But the real treat of Magica is the deluxe edition’s bonus disc. The bonus disc is anchored by RJD himself reading ‘The Magica Story.’ Instead of the full on rock opera that is Magica audiences get Dio serving as storyteller. The style with which he reads the story leaves listeners hanging on his every word. It conjures thoughts of Trans Siberian Orchestra. And being that this legendary singer is sadly no longer with us, hearing him personally reading the story is a wonderful memorial to Dio’s memory. And since the story is printed out in the booklet included with the re-issue, they can even follow along as he reads the story verbatim. There are no attempts at bad voices or any other over the top moves. It is just RJD with a calm music bed as he reads the story. The manner in which he recites the story’s final lines is wonderful. He is about to start the next story but instantly cuts himself off, laughing as he says, “That’s another story.” It makes the whole experience of listening to this record more personal for lack of better wording. It is just part of what makes the re-issue’s second disc a true bonus. For that matter, it makes one wonder what Magic 2 and 3 would have sounded like. Luckily, listeners get a hint of that on the bonus track, ‘Electra’ that is also included on this re-issue.
The reading of ‘The Magica’ Story by Ronnie James Dio himself is a wonderful continuation from the musical story contained on the re-issue’s main disc. The included bonus tracks and live bootlegs make the second disc even more of a bonus. Considering that they are called “bootlegs”, the term bootleg should be taken very lightly. This is a good thing in this case. That is because the audio quality of the live “bootlegs” here far exceeds that of what one would think when one thinks of the term, “bootleg.” The bonus studio tracks complete the package, musically speaking. ‘Electra’ gives a pretty good hint at the later story that Dio references in this story. It makes one wonder if he perhaps had some manuscripts tucked away somewhere that as is the case with certain late authors have yet to see the light of day. It’s a nice heavy piece that continues the style established in Magica. ‘Annica’ is equally intriguing in that it bears what some could argue to be Pink Floyd influences, in terms of the guitar parts. That in itself is enough to make for even more discussion. And it is that discussion that helps to make this record’s re-issue an even more completely enjoyable listen that will grow with each listen. The record is available in stores and online now.
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