THE BAND: Ronnie James Dio (vocals), Tony Iommi (guitars), Geezer Butler (bass), Geoff Nicholls (keyboards), Vinnie Appice (drums and percussion) – replacing original drummer Bill Ward.
THE DISC: (1981) 9 tracks clocking in at approximately 40 minutes. Included with the disc is a minimal 2-page foldout containing song titles/credits/times, band members and thank you’s (no photo or song lyrics). This is the band’s tenth studio album (and Dio’s 2nd with Sabbath). Recorded at the Record Plant (Los Angeles). Album cover artwork by the famed Greg Hildebrandt (with twin brother Tim, they created the artwork for the original Lord Of The Rings – circa 1970’s, the Star Wars posters and assorted Marvel comics). Label – Warner Bros / Vertigo Records (UK).
COMMETS: As much as I liked “Heaven And Hell” (1980), I always thought “Mob Rules” was more of a complete album. Keep in mind – both albums are outright Dio/Sabbath classics. Ronnie James Dio was clearly in his prime – a five year stint with Rainbow, two classic albums with Black Sabbath, and then his solo career taking off with “Holy Diver” (1983). Somehow I feel “Mob Rules” got the short end of the stick being stuck between two monstrous albums. From the opening cymbal crashes on “Turn Up The Night”, this album rocks. This opening track really kicks the album off to a great start. The lone single “Voodoo” is a slower track with ultra heavy drums. Both tracks have trademark Iommi guitars – rhythm and solos. The 8-minute masterpiece – “The Sign Of The Southern Cross” – is one of handful of Dio’s best tunes (with ANY band). * How did Sabbath’s compilation, “The Dio Years” (2007), miss this single most important song? A sluggish beat, trodden and heavy, cool guitars and effects, and stunning Dio vocals. “E5150″ is a 2+ minute experiment with sound effects and guitars… ultimately the only track deemed skippable. Where “E5150″ almost lulls you to sleep, it’s all for naught as the following fast-paced title track kicks you in the teeth. “Country Girl” is a mid-tempo rocker… strangely, about love and desire. “Slipping Away” has some cool rhythm sections complete with dueling lead and bass guitars. “Falling Off The Edge Of The World” has a delicate and misleading intro… only to break into a fast middle and ending. The album closes on a slow but emotional note with “Over And Over” (including a shredding guitar solo). For me, this album quietly rivaled anything in Black Sabbath’s catalog (5 stars).