Jorn – Dio (2010, Frontiers Records)
- Song For Ronnie James
- Shame On The Night
- Stand Up And Shout
- Don’t Talk To Strangers
- Lord Of The Last Day
- Night People
- Sacred Heart
- Sunset Superman
- Lonely Is The Word/Letters From Earth
- Kill The King
- Straight Through the Heart (live)
- Song For Ronnie James (video)
Jorn Lande – Vocals
Tor Erik Myhre – Guitars
Jgor Gianola – Guitars
Tore St Moren – Guitars
Nic Angileri – Bass
Willy Bendiksen – Drums & Percussion
Tommy Hansen – Keyboards
Producer: Tommy Hansen
Total Time = 66:17
Nothing was more shocking for me than the announcement on May 16, 2010 that Ronnie James Dio, one of my all-time Heavy Metal heroes, had passed away after fighting a valiant effort against stomach cancer. I grew up listening to Dio’s music with Rainbow, Black Sabbath and Dio so the news really hit home s it reverberated around the globe. At 67 years old, one of the greatest Rock singers of all-time was gone.
About a week later came a press release from Frontiers Records announcing the new album from Jorn Lande titled DIO. It was a little shocking to see a press release of this kind so quickly after RJD’s death and it looked like a very convenient marketing ploy to capitalize on his death. Fans worldwide started to voice their criticism on message boards and forums towards Jorn Lande and Frontiers Records for what seemed like an obvious cash-in but that turned out to not be the case. Jorn Lande has always been very vocal in his admiration of and influence from Ronnie James Dio and this tribute album was started back in the Spring of 2009 with the full cooperation and blessing of Ronnie James & Wendy Dio and Niji Entertainment. Even though it was a planned release to pay tribute to his hero, Jorn took a lot of heat for announcing DIO because it was just too soon after Ronnie’s death.
DIO is a 13 song collection of one new song, ‘Song For Ronnie James’, and twelve Dio classics taken from his work in Rainbow, Black Sabbath and the Dio band. What makes this tribute record stand out is the song selection. Most tribute records feature the most obvious and famous songs in order to sell product but Jorn Lande went the extra mile in my opinion by picking out some deep tracks. Some obvious song choices would have been ‘Holy Diver’, ‘The Last In Line’, ‘Heaven & Hell’ and maybe ‘Long Live Rock ‘n’ Roll’ but they aren’t here! Instead we get some deep tracks like ‘Lord Of The Last Day’ from MAGICA (2000), ‘Push’ from KILLING THE DRAGON (2002), ‘Night People’ off DREAM EVIL (1987) and a medley ’Lonely Is The Word/Letters From Earth’ from Black Sabbath’s HEAVEN & HELL (1980) and DEHUMANIZER (1992) albums. Five of the songs come from Dio’s first album, HOLY DIVER (1983) and two come from DREAM EVIL but I was surprised that Jorn picked nothing from THE LAST IN LINE (1984). I was also expecting at least two each from Ronnie’s days in both Rainbow and Black Sabbath but it’s great to have the focus on Dio’s solo career because it’s just as legendary as his previous works. The performances are mostly a straight rendition of the original tracks so the entire album is completely familiar…..the only difference is really Jorn’s voice, which is in top form as always. The lone original, ‘Song For Ronnie James’, is OK…..basically an average song when compared to Jorn’s original material. Most of the lyrics are song and/or album titles and it’s meant to be a tribute to the master. I can’t really fault it but it’s not really my favorite either.
Everyone knows that I can’t stand cover songs included on new albums of original material but I like tribute albums…..strange isn’t it? Aside from the questionable timing of the press release and album release, DIO is a solid tribute album with a decent song selection and excellent performances. Ronnie James Dio always insisted on high quality and Jorn Lande has learned well from his master because this is a highly listenable record and a cool overview of the legend’s career. ‘Song For Ronnie James’ isn’t the greatest original song but it’s listenable so it gets a pass. If you’re a fan of Ronnie James Dio or Jorn Lande then it’s an album worth checking out.
The deeper tracks are the best ones. The Black Sabbath medley of ‘Lonely Is The Word/Letter From Earth’ is excellent as is the Rainbow cover ‘Kill The King’. If I had to pick the best four covers of Dio originals, I’d go with ‘Push’, ‘Sunset Superman’, ‘Sacred Heart’ and ‘Night People’…..the deep tracks!