Elf – Goin’ Down (Boleskine House Records BHRCD-4-1/2)


Goin’ Down (Boleskine House Records BHRCD-4-1/2)

June 10, 1973, The Bank, Cortland, New York, USA

Disc One: First Avenue; Sit Down Honey (Everything Will Be Alright); Dixie Lee Junction; Stay With Me; I Want You to Love Me; I’m Coming Back for You; Love Me Like A Woman; Nevermore; Don’t Waste a Minute of Time; Old Stone Cold Fever; Streetwalker

Disc Two: Hoochie Koochie Lady; Rockin’ Chair Rock N’ Roll Blues; Goin’ Down; Drum Solo; Gambler Gambler; Guitar Solo; Do the Same Thing; Little Queenie

Tarantura’s honorable tribute to the life of Ronnie James Dio continues with Boleskine House Records’ excellent and enlightening recording from Ronnie James Dio’s pre-superstardom days.  In Elf Live: Goin’ Down, we are introduced to those days through an expertly mastered stereo soundboard recording from 1973 showing an unfamiliar side of Dio that is simply awesome to hear. 

Make no mistake, however, Dio was always Dio, and this recording gives us some strong evidence of what grabbed Ritchie Blackmore’s attention when Elf was opening for Deep Purple shortly before Blackmore left in 1974 to form Rainbow with Dio.  Of course, Elf was already under contract with Purple Records, so Dio was a known powerhouse before 1974, which was when this concert took place.

This release is packaged in a black-and-white jacket bearing a vintage picture of Elf on the front in a design that may bring back some fond memories for collectors of bootleg records designed in the 1970’s.  On the jacket’s backside are two starkly different pictures of Dio, which was a classy way to symbolize the significance of this recording to Dio fans.  One is a more familiar image of a long haired, albeit younger, Dio belting it out on stage. 

The other is the high school senior yearbook picture of Ronald Padavona (a/k/a Dio), telling us his nickname was “Pigmy” and bearing what may have been his following quote, which said it all about him even at that age: “there is no great genius without a mixture of madness.”  It is also cool to read about Dio’s extracurricular high school activities, which included senior band and dance band all 4 years, senior class president, as well as participation in baseball, wrestling and bowling.  It’s details like this that make collecting music so fascinating, and why this release is such a winner.

This was not a heavy metal concert, or band.  Yes, three-fourths of Elf recorded Rainbow’s first album, but that was largely Ritchie Blackmore’s creation.  Elf’s performance as captured in Goin’ Down treats us to music from rather diverse interest, including southern blues and honky-tonk, as well as Elf original songs such as the opening track, “First Avenue”.  That song embodied the honky-tonk, early 1970’s sound, but with Dio’s signature and unmistakable vocals driving it up front and wonderfully. 

Using falsetto accents, along with his tremendous range, the song was an interesting choice to open a show as compared to some set openers that may have contained more driving energy.  The recording captured it all perfectly though, with piano, guitar, and drums at the same level as Dio, with the audience’s clapping and response after the song suggesting a rather small, intimate venue for the show. 

Two more Elf originals follow, “Sit Down Honey (Everything Will Be Alright)” and “Dixie Lee Junction”, which are also great rock and roll songs new to my ears.  “Dixie Junction” was particularly melodic, showing Dio’s beautiful vocal abilities accompanying electric piano, tasteful guitar soloing, and creative drumming.  “Nevermore”, another Elf original, was a show highlight containing numerous tempo & timing changes with Dio ably weaving the group through each, as was the Elf tune “Gambler Gambler” with its upbeat cowbell and piano heavy patterns.

Making this fun recording all the more enjoyable was the band’s performance of covers that included an energetic version of The Faces’ “Stay With Me”, which had Dio putting his stamp on a song sang by Rod Stewart, their variation of Muddy Waters’ “I Want You to Love Me”, and an excellent version of “Goin’ Down”.

Goin’ Down is another superb release by Tarantura’s Boleskine House Records label that is highly recommended and worth having not only for fans of Ronnie James Dio, but rock and roll fans in general.

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