Early in his musical career the recently departed Ronald James Padavona of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, dwelled in the shadows of the greasy R&B/ white vocal group sound. Before Dio, Elf, Rainbow and Black Sabbath ruled the pimpled Earth, there trod The Vegas Kings, Ronnie & The Rumblers, Ronnie & The Red Caps and finally Ronnie Dio & the Prophets. Dio's various ensembles recorded singles on a variety of labels along with a live LP recorded at a Domino's Restaurant in upstate New York (intriguingly titled "Dio At Domino's"). Dio's early material ranged from Schlub Dion (Swingin' Street) to the percolating Love Pains, where Dio digs down deep into his Inner Anka. On the plaintive and rockin' Everybody's Got A Dance To Do, Dio checks dance crazes like The Twist, The Fish and The Watusi along with shout-outs to fellow hipsters Chubby Checker, Bobby Rydell, The Isleys, Dee Dee (Sharp), James Brown and Little Eva. Dio's take on Great Balls of Fire is surprisingly tepid however Blue Days from the live pizza place LP ranks as some truly swingin' fare. Many of these early sides serve Dio's legacy well, long before the wagging of the malocchia/mano cornuto hands, before the poodle do, before the dubious and ultimately triumphant days of shemping for Sabbath.
My favorite early Dio romp is his loopy take on Love Potion No. 9. Despite mangling the lyrics (seemingly from memory), Dio hits all the designated marks that firmly plant this 45 into an inky novelty purgatory. Spoken intro, cappy old Madame Rue voice, pouring and bubbling sound effects--Dio catapults to musical greatness in anticipation of his non-ducktail years to come.