Courtesy: Niji Entertainment
Ronnie James Dio’s classic concept album Magica has gotten the re-issue treatment again. Originally released in 2000 through Spitfire Records, the 13-song concept album was re-issued again Feb. 21 through Niji Entertainment, as with its 2013 and 2018 re-issues. Yes, the album has now been re-issued no less than four times since its original release, and each re-issue has presented something different for audiences. That extra content on the album’s latest re-issue is one of its most important elements. It will be discussed shortly. The concept at the core of the original album is something well worth noting, too, and will be addressed a little later. The sequencing of each portion of the re-issue rounds out its most important elements. Each noted item is important in its own way to the whole of this recording. All things considered, they make Niji Entertainment’s latest re-issue of Magica another intriguing tribute to a true rock legend.
Niji Entertainment’s latest re-issue of Ronnie James Dio’s 2000 album Magica is an intriguing presentation. That is due in part to the bonus material that is featured with this latest re-issue of the album. The bonus content featured with the album this time is the most important of the presentation’s elements. In comparison to the album’s 2018 re-issue, that presentation was extremely limited on any bonus content. It featured only live takes of the songs ‘Fever Dream’ and ‘Magica Theme.’ The 2007 re-issue included Dio’s 2002 album Killing The Dragon. That album is also among Niji Entertainment’s latest round of Dio re-issues, and will be discussed another day. Getting back to the latest re-issue of Magica, its 2013 re-issue was a bit heavier in the way of bonus content, featuring eight official bootlegs that were recorded during Dio’s 2000-2002 Magica World Tour. This latest re-issue pulls from that tour again. What is important to note though, is that the live material featured this time is not just a re-hashing of the live material featured in the album’s 2013 re-issue. Rather, audiences get not eight, but 10 (yes, 10) of the 13 songs featured in the original recording. The only difference here from the actual album is the omission of the songs ‘Turn To Stone,’ ‘As Long As It’s Not About Love’ and the album’s closer, the reprise of ‘Lord of the Last Day.’ Other than those omissions, what audiences get in this live recording is almost the entirety of Magica live in its original sequence. This is crucial because of the general effect that it has for listeners. This was an artist performing an album virtually in its entirety before it became the cool thing for acts to do. What’s more getting to take in the album nearly in whole in a live setting makes the experience that much more special. As any one can tell a person, live shows are special experiences for audiences. So getting to experience the album in two different settings in nearly the same order makes for quite the extraordinary experience for audiences.
Now, keeping this in mind, the automatic rebuttal to this statement becomes why should one own the same album twice over just because the bonus content is different (I.E. the 2013 and 2020 re-issues). The answer there is that while this latest re-issue may feature Magica almost in its entirety in its near exact sequencing both times, the album’s 2013 re-issue does feature the live take of ‘As Long As It’s Not About Love.’ Given, ‘Turn To Stone’ and the reprise of ‘Lord of the Last Day,’ it does feature a live version of the primary take of that song. The 2013 re-issue also features a hint at what would have been Magica 2 & 3 in the form of the song ‘Electra.’ To that end, that content, along with a telling of the Magica story by RJD himself adds even more interest to that presentation. So, keeping all of this in mind, the album’s 2013 and 2020 takes feature varying bonus content, the 2020 re-issue proves enjoyable in its own right for the most devoted RJD fans just as much as the album’s 2013 re-issue. The 2007 and 2018 re-issues meanwhile prove less valuable and worth replacing among those listeners who may have one or both of those re-issues.
The bonus content featured in the new 2020 re-issue of Magica is clearly important in its own way to the re-issue’s overall presentation. It is just one of the re-issue’s key elements. Looking at the concept behind the album itself, that item is well worth discussing. Dio actually discussed the album’s concept prior to his death. He pointed out in an interview that the album focused on a standard battle between good and evil. The twist is that while so many stories of good and evil are told from the vantage point of the heroes, this story was told from the vantage point of the villain; something which is rarely if ever past and present. He pointed out during the noted interview that he left the album ending how he did because “evil always exists, good doesn’t always triumph, and that’s the universal balance.” Given, LucasFilm’s Star Wars franchise did have some chapters in which the bad guys won. That was a movie, though. In the real world, we are seeing daily that evil does win considering who is running America today in the form of a crooked businessman who is also a xenophobe, homophobe, misogynist and racist. So while the concept at the center of Magica might still be very rare to this day in the world of music and entertainment in general, it is something that is very much real in the real world. Now, Dio was not advocating for the bad guys to win in making the noted statement. That needs to be clarified here. Rather, he was pointing out that the concept that the good guys always win is not a reality. For that reason, RJD is to be commended highly for taking what was then and is still today, the road less traveled. Keeping this in mind with the bonus content featured with the album’s re-issue, the two elements go a long way toward making this latest re-issue of Magica a welcome addition to the libraries of the most devoted RJD fans. They are not the album’s only notable entries. The production and mixing of the bonus live content is worth its own mention.
The production is important to note because of the resultant sound quality of the live material. The term bootleg is used for these recordings, but the production and mixing used in these official live bootlegs has left the sound just as clear, engaging and entertaining as any other act’s live recording past or present. The guitars, the symphonic elements, the drums, everything is balanced so well throughout each performance. RJD’s vocals are perfectly clear, too. In other words, while the recordings may be marketed as “official bootlegs,” they are anything but bootleg. If any one thing can be said of the bonus content, it would be that to this day, RJD’s 2000-2002 “Magica World Tour” has seemingly never has received one full live recording either on CD or on DVD or even Blu-ray. If Niji Entertainment wants to truly impress RJD’s fans, that would be a wise choice. Again, going back to the previous discussion on bonus content, Magica’s 2013 and new 2020 re-issues each features content from that tour, but it is all spread against two different recordings. Why has no single recording been released featuring nothing but that performance content? Officials at Niji Entertainment and other companies need to keep that in mind. That aside, the production and mixing that went into the official live bootlegs featured in this recording – as with the album’s 2013 re-issue – resulted in a wonderful experience that will appease any rock fan pining for a live experience in this age of bacterial spread. To that end, it proves its own importance to the recording’s latest presentation. When it is considered along with the re-issue’s other elements, the whole of the re-issue proves to be its own positive presentation for the most devoted fans of Ronnie James Dio.
Niji Entertainment’s latest re-issue of Ronnie James Dio’s 2000 album Magica is a presentation that is certain to appeal to the legendary performer’s most devoted fans. That is proven in part through the re-issue’s bonus content, which is distinct from that of the album’s previous re-issues, as is noted here. The very concept at the heart of the album is important in its own right to the presentation. The production and mixing that went into the presentation of the re-issue’s bonus content is important in its own way to the whole of this re-issue, too. Each item noted here is key in its own way to the whole of the set. All things considered, they make Niji Entertainment’s latest re-issue of Magica a work that the most devoted Dio fans will appreciated. The record is available now. More information on the album is available online along with all of the latest RJD-related news at:
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