ufoIt’s that time of the week again as our resident classic rock columnist chews the musical fat.

This week he’s actually listened to some thrash metal bands…yep, you read that right.

To discover whether Self Made Man has finally turned to the dark side read on… 

A fortnight ago, had anyone predicted that I’d be listening to Anthrax, Slipknot, Halestorm and Killswitch Engage, I’d have laughed in their faces.
There was more chance of me sticking on a CD by One Direction, Take That or Blue. Well, not quite but you get my drift.
Hard rock, heavy rock, blues rock, prog rock, indie, even some hair metal I love. But nu-metal, thrash metal – no thank-you.
And then I had a phone call from my eldest son James, who lives in Prague, telling me about the newly-released Ronnie James Dio tribute album, featuring these artists.
I’d already heard about This Is Your Life, the brainchild of Dio’s widow Wendy, who contacted countless musicians who’d been inspired by her late husband to play on a charity production to raise funds for a foundation set up in his name.
Considering the bulk of material came from Rainbow’s Rising, Black Sabbath’s Heaven And Hell and Dio’s Holy Diver, I was intrigued.
After all, that classy triumvirate are widely acknowledged as three of the greatest hard rock albums ever released.
But though I was a fan of the tracks and artists such as The Scorpions and Glenn Hughes, I didn’t think the record would be my cup of tea.
Well, James persuaded me to give it a chance and I did. Neon Knights by Anthrax is superb, Metallica’s medley of Rainbow songs blows the mind and I was rather impressed with Halestorm’s adaption of Straight Through The Heart.
“What about Slipknot?” asked James when I told him I’d gone out and bought the CD. “What about Slipknot?” I replied perplexed  not even realising Corey Taylor, whose name features on the album, was a member.
All in all, the album is far more enjoyable than I ever imagined it would be but rather than convert me into a thrash metaller,  it reinforces my long-held beleifs
The music confirms that RJD, whether partnered by Richie Blackmore, Tony Iommi or as a solo artist with Vivian Campbell or Jimmy Bain, was one of rock’s finest songwriters whose creations will live on for years to come.
More significantly – and here lies the paradox – listening to This Is Your Life makes you realise that as a rock singer, Dio had few peers.
For none of the vocalists on this record manage to improve on the original versions of the songs. Most voices are inferior to the master.
Metallica’s medley is musically magnificent but James Hetfield does not have Dio’s vocal range while Rob Halford’s Man On The Silver Mountain, is arguably the most disapponiting track on the album.
I’d recommend this album to any classic rock fan, particularly because it’s for a good cause.
But after a few listens, I guarantee you’ll be listening to a lot more Rainbow, Dio-era Sabbath and his solo collection than to those bands who pay such a lusty tribute to the great man.
Ian Murtagh