posted on 8/2010 By:
May 16th, 2010: what a shit day.
I've made no effort to mask the distress and grief I've felt from the passing of Ronnie James Dio just three months ago this coming Monday. The wound is still fairly fresh on the ol' heart, I'd have to say, but thankfully that awful anguish has slowly begun its healing transformation into kindly remembrance -- one of those little things that makes life a bit more bearable, I suppose.
As is often the case with the passing of an icon, the world reacts fairly quickly. If the loss is within the musical realm we can certainly expect to see discussions bloom within internet forums; scribes and reporters whip up eulogizing commentaries; radio DJ's dedicate shows/blocks to his/her memory; and performers gather to pay respects through song. Norway's prolific power-troubadour Jorn Lande (Allen/Lande, ARK, Beyond Twilight, Jorn, Mundanus Imperium, Millenium, Yngwie Malmsteen) hit the RJD-tribute street early with "Song for Ronnie James" -- a heartfelt original tune that suitably straddles the line between lachrymose and mid-80's era Dio -- but after spending some time with the aptly titled Dio, I find three issues standing in the way of my recommending it to my fellow RJD enthusiasts.
First, while I appreciate the fact that Jorn and crew steer clear of tunes eternally slaughtered by classic rock radio stations across the nation, an eyebrow is certainly raised at the choice to completely avoid Last In Line, Mob Rules and Rainbow's indomitable Rising. Naturally that's a matter of taste, and I honestly appreciate the fact that the band chose to cover a couple of the more under-appreciated gems like "Push" (Killing the Dragon) and "Lord of the Last Day" (Magica). But cutting one or two of the four selections from Holy Diver or nixing the relatively flat "Sunset Superman" in favor of something like "Rock 'n' Roll Children", "Country Girl", "One Night in the City" (or an obvious "Stargazer") would have been ideal -- strike one.
Secondly, although I've spent many a day here at Metal Review waxing about the strengths of Jorn Lande and his impassioned pipes, it takes a vocalist as eminent and insurmountable as Dio to make a fellow such as this sound somehow...lacking. In the end, there simply does not exist today a heavy metal vocalist with a range and delivery as potent as what was so smoothly and effortlessly delivered through the surprisingly small frame of Ronald James Padavona. That fact is evident on Dio, despite Jorn's obvious skill -- strike two.
Strike three paints the corner and walks a delicate line that very well could ruffle some feathers. It doesn't appear as if any proceeds from the sale of this record are going to the Ronnie James Dio Stand Up and Shout Cancer Fund. I stress the word "appear" because it's possible such a thing is happening behind the scenes and neither the band or label are choosing to bring such a thing to light (for reasons well-enough beyond me.) Perhaps this isn't something the majority of folks would take umbrage with, seeing as how it has nothing to do with the music at hand, but it's a point I felt compelled to acknowledge because the wound of Ronnie's passing is still pretty raw. Jorn's personal website thankfully directs people toward the organization and encourages donations, but I see no evidence on the label's site. Take that as you will.
So, while I appreciate the sentiment behind this record and certainly believe the band is 100% heartfelt in their delivery, I remain wary of recommending Dio to our readers. The material is competently delivered by one of today's more genuinely talented hard rock acts, but it's still a far cry from something I'd call one of 2010's necessary purchases.
And for those interested, you can still make donations to the Stand Up and Shout Cancer Fund at www.ronniejamesdio.com -- obviously a very worthy cause.
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