Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Review: Jorn, "Dio"

Unlike the avalanche of Ronnie James Dio tributes that are sure to be headed our way in the coming months, Jorn Lande’s tribute was begun some time ago, when the metal legend was still very much alive. That, to me, puts it in a different league as a heartfelt tribute to the man and his music rather than a cold cash grab taking advantage of a tragic loss. That’s felt from start to finish on a record that is respectful, celebratory and would have been just as poignant if released before Dio’s death.

Jorn takes an interesting approach in selecting the songs, opting for songs that are meaningful to him rather than the “big” songs that might be expected.
Certainly, there are a few of those songs represented here. Fan favorites “Stand Up and Shout,” “Don’t Talk to Strangers” and “Invisible” are on the record, but you won’t find songs like “Holy Diver,” “Rainbow in the Dark,” “Heaven and Hell” or, as much as I would have liked to hear Lande sing it, “The Last in Line.” (In fact, one of my only complaints with this record is that it really needs something from that album.)

What you will hear are some deep cuts from Dio’s lesser-known records that you likely wouldn’t expect. There’s “Push” from 2002’s “Killing the Dragon,” “Lord of the Last Day” from 2000’s “Magica” and “Sunset Superman” and “Night People” from 1987’s “Dream Evil.” All performed with just as much reverence and gusto as any of the better-known songs.

Among the best of a group of outstanding performances is his soulful rendition of “Shame on the Night” from “Holy Diver” and the dark, exotic “Lord of the Last Day” from “Magica,” which is a record that I think gets too often overlooked in the Dio catalog.

Rainbow and Black Sabbath, of course, are represented as well. From the Rainbow years, Jorn chooses “Kill the King,” and from Sabbath, he opts for a medley. Even there, though, he digs into the catalog a little, choosing “Lonely is the Word” from “Heaven and Hell” and “Letters from Earth” from the highly underrated 1992 reunion of the Dio-era band “Dehumanizer.” Toward the end of the song, he does tease listeners with just a little touch of “Children of the Sea.”

Fittingly, Jorn doesn’t mess around with the arrangements and, aside from a few small flourishes here and there, delivers them as they should be. You can’t improve the songs, so don’t mess with them.

The one non-Dio song here is Jorn’s personal tribute to the legend, “Song for Ronnie James.” Obviously, it’s the weakest link among this crop of songs, but looking at the competition on this record, that certainly doesn’t mean it’s a weak song. Admittedly, I think it gets a bit melodramatic in places and goes just a little too long at eight minutes, but I certainly can’t disagree with the sentiment or the statement.

On a side note, Jorn has been chosen as one of two singers (the other being Glenn Hughes) to perform with the remaining members of Black Sabbath/Heaven and Hell as they pay tribute to Dio in London on July 24. After hearing the songs here, I certainly wish I could be there to see it.

Get "Dio."

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