MINI REVIEWS – March 5, 2021

  • 7/10
    ALICE COOPER - Detroit Stories - 7/10
  • 7.5/10
    DAMON JOHNSON & THE GET READY - Battle Lessons - 7.5/10
  • 9.5/10
    DIO - Evil or Divine: Live in New York City - 9.5/10
  • 8.5/10
    DIO - Holy Diver Live - 8.5/10


[spoiler title=’Metal Express Radio – Ratings Scale’ style=’default’ collapse_link=’true’]

10.0:         Cannot be improved! Perfect, instant classic! Essential in any record collection.
9.5 – 9.9:  Fantastic, spectacular and outstanding!
9.0 – 9.4:  Amazing release! It just lacks that little extra spice to make it perfect.
8.5 – 8.9:  Exceptional release! Will likely rank among top ten albums of the year.
8.0 – 8.4:  Great release! It has many different qualities.
7.5 – 7.9:  Above average! It is an enjoyable release.
7.0 – 7.4:  It is not brilliant, but has many strong points.
6.0 – 6.9:  It has its moments, but is not that strong.
5.0 – 5.9:  Slightly above average, does not stand out. Good outweighs bad by just a little.
4.0 – 4.9:  Just below average, bad outweighs good by just a little.
3.0 – 3.9:  Mediocre. There might be a song or a performance that is enjoyable, but that is it.
2.0 – 2.9:  Very weak! There might be a light at the end of the tunnel, too many flaws.
1.0 – 1.9:  This release gives the word “terrible” new meaning.
0.1 – 0.9:  Awful! Avoid at all cost. There is nothing good to say about this release.


ALICE COOPER – Detroit Stories
earMusic [BUY] [Facebook]

It’s not the first time the legendary Alice Cooper has gone “back to his roots’ for an album (i.e. Dirty Diamonds, The Eyes of Alice Cooper), but this one add a little twist. Paying homage to his hometown, Cooper tells happy, bizarre, and destructive tales with a little help from his longtime producer Bob Ezrin and members of the original Alice Cooper Band. He even throws in a few covers by some Detroit native greats.

While Detroit Stories is not Alice Cooper’s strongest album, it still an enjoyable slice of that early rock and roll sound. Copper is usually tongue and cheek when it comes to his music, but some of these stories are a bit too hoke. His cover of Bob Segar’s “East Side Story,” “Detroit City 2021,” and “Go Man Go” steal the show. 7/10

Battle Lessons
Double Dragon Records [BUY] [Facebook]

Former Black Star Riders’ axe man Damon Johnson ventures out with his latest project that is equal parts Brother Cain and Johnson solo, with zero signs of Black Star Riders in the mix. Get ready for Damon’s trademark echo-y blues style vocals on such rockers as “Battle Lessons,” “Talk Yourself Into Anything,” “Brace For Impact,” and “Lightning Bolt.” Johnson is at his vocal best on the acoustic ballad “Love is All You Left Behind.” Battle Lessons gives you a lot of bang for the buck in just over 30 minutes. 7.5/10

DIO – Evil or Divine [2021 Version] Niji Entertainment Group [BUY] [Facebook]

A re-release like this isn’t exactly about its music content as it is about the presentation. Originally released in 2003 Evil or Divine wasn’t available on vinyl then. The packaging and presentation of this release on vinyl is top-notch and surly a collector’s dream. The performance sounds just as great as it did in 2003.

Dio and his band (Killing the Dragon-era) at the time were perfectly in synch and nail the big hits with such ease. If you already have the original version, you can stick with it. There is only one added song and a drum solo (and for some reason one studio song from Dio’s last 4 albums). The original is currently out of print, so if you don’t have it, it’s worth your hard earned money. Now, what happened to the DVD? 9.5/10

DIO – Holy Diver Live [2021 Version] Niji Entertainment Group [BUY] [Facebook]

Again, a re-release like this isn’t exactly about its music content as it is about the presentation. Originally released in 2006, Holy Diver Live wasn’t exactly Dio at his very best, but it was damn close. There are a few hiccups as the set kicks off, but its smooth sailing after that.

Holy Diver is hands down the definitive Dio album and it sounds great live, especially with this version of the band (Master of the Moon-era). After the album is played in its entirety, Dio bangs out the best material from his solo career, Rainbow, and Black Sabbath.

The packaging and presentation is fantastic. Collectors will be pleased. There’s nothing in the way of bonus material. If you don’t own it, the original version is out of print. If you had to pick just one album between the new Dio live re-issues, go with Evil or Divine. It’s the better of the two. 8.5/10


  • George Dionne

    George was a contributor here at Metal Express Radio, reviewing albums and conducting interviews, out of Massachusetts, USA. George has contributed to numerous music related websites and blogs, and even managed his own from 2004-2009. George's first assignment was covering a live show by the mighty GWAR. By contrast his later assignments featured Judas Priest, Van Halen, and Bon Jovi. George was also the front man for the South Eastern Massachusetts cover band Sound Tower from 2009-2015.  Sound Tower played 300+ shows across MA and had two original songs on the Cape Cod radio station PIXY 103. George enjoys a good whiskey, scotch, and/or bourbon and fights crime in his spare time.

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