So recently Dio's 1984 album The Last In Line went viral thanks to the show Stranger Things when the character of Eddie Munson (played by Joseph Quinn) wore a denim vest with the album cover art on the back. We first reported the very 80s item of clothing came directly from Dio's estate thanks to the generosity of Dio's widow, Wendy. The album is as sacred as they come to metalheads and is a formidable as well as a formative piece of heavy metal music history. As Dio would have turned 80 years old today (July 10th), and The Last in Line celebrated its 38th anniversary on July 2nd, we thought it would be interesting to hit the rewind button and see how Dio really felt about the revered album.
Of course, the title of this post gives you a hint that the legendarily direct Dio was not a fan of most of the jams on The Last in Line. Take a deep breath and let's take a deep Dio dive into all that.
First of all, we all know The Last in Line was universally praised when it came out, with many calling it a textbook example of what makes a heavy metal album great. Even 38 years later it still sounds as masterful as any other key metal release from the 80s–the game-changers. Iron Maiden's Number of the Beast (1982), Judas Priest's Screaming for Vengeance (also 1982), and Ozzy's Blizzard of Ozz (1981). The list is long, strong, and undeniably full of deeply influential albums from bands who changed and challenged the heavy metal narrative. In fact, we should also throw Dio's 1982 album Holy Diver in this metal mix because of course we should. At any rate, if you have a string of pearls, you might want to keep them handy because Dio's comments (from an interview in 1985) about one of The Last in Line's stand-up and shout tracks, "Mystery" is gonna make you want to clutch those water diamonds tightly. Very tightly:
"There's this one song, 'Mystery,' I actually hate. It's very pop-oriented, and that's not where my strength lies. I feel like I'm selling out my musical principles by including it on the album [The Last in Line]. But the other guys in the group liked the song, so I relented. I just don't want fans coming up to me saying, 'Hey Dio, you sold out.' I want them to know 'Mystery' wasn't my idea–I was just being a nice guy."
Dio throwing vintage shade on "Mystery" is pretty surprising seeing as though bassist Jimmy Bain wrote the song with Dio, who also received sole writing credits on both "We Rock" and "Evil Eyes." However, in the same interview, he also made it clear that he didn't like some of the "other" songs on the record and was happier performing "The Man on the Silver Mountain" (which he wrote with Ritchie Blackmore while fronting Rainbow in 1974), than many of the songs on The Last in Line. While "The Man on the Silver Mountain" is the jam, trying to process Dio not digging some of the songs The Last in Line is so confounding it makes my hair hurt.
Here's Ronnie belting out his least favorite song (we think) "Mystery" in August of 1984 in Philadelphia.