Jorn – Heavy Rock Radio II: Executing the Classics (2020)

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After speaking with Jorn Lande on the phone recently, it became clear to me that he is as much of a FAN of music, as he is of actually writing and performing his own tunes.  During our conversation, Jorn would offer up great answers to my questions, but when I touched on his covers album, Heavy Rock Radio, and he began talking about flicking through records as a youth, and discovering new music, he REALLY became animated.

That’s what Heavy Rock Radio, and it’s new “sequel” are all about.  Jorn celebrating the music that inspired him, and to some degree, makes him the performer that he is.

The fact that he doesn’t go for the “obvious” as far as song choices helps to keep this record very interesting too, and I truly believe that Jorn can sing anything, so when he opens the record with a souped up version of Bryan Adams’ 1980 power pop hit, “Lonely Nights”, it sounds completely fresh and well suited to not only Jorns voice, but the band do a magnificent job of turning it in to a hard rock banger.

Next up is a cover of Russ Ballards “Winning” from 1976.  The original is a bare bones example of classic rock.  Jorn and his band add an immense amount of power to the tune, both musically, and in particular the vocals.  That power goes hand in hand with the lyrical concept of the song, and updates the track extremely well.

Some of these songs are absolute classics in their original form, but Jorn shows them a great deal of care in his versions, offering them a 2020 update, without straying too far from the original.  Sure, the musical backdrop is a little heavier, but it’s all handled with the utmost respect.  Take the cover of Don Henley’s “New York Minute” for example.  The original is a piano driven ballad.  Jorns version is a guitar driven anthem.

I have always appreciated covers albums.  No, not all are good, but I like it a lot when artists pay respect to their influences, and sometimes it’s a great way to discover or re-discover classics.  The drum work from Francesco Jovino does great thinks for The Searchers “Needles and Pins”, transforming it from folk song to glam metal, full of power.

“Love” is a Santana classic from the 1979 album, Marathon.  Here, Jorn and band stick closely to the original, albeit a much more rocked up version.  There are some huge guitar riffs here, accented by the use of pinch harmonics, rumbling bass guitar and some very hard hitting drumming.  This is actually a highlight.

Next up is a version of Pages “I Do Believe in You”, which is good, but it’s completely blown out of the water by the next track, a blistering version of Foreigner’s “Nightlife”, which showcases Jorn Lande’s vocal talent better than anything on this record, and that’s saying something, because he’s always great.

“Bad Attitude” is a largely forgotten Deep Purple number, but with this fresh coat of paint, it sounds amazing – complete with Hammond organs, and some fantastic guitar parts, it sounds fresh and new.  The same can be said of “Quinn the Eskimo (The Mighty Quinn)” – originally a Manfred Mann track rooted in folk rock, but here it’s a massive rocker.

“Mystery” is up next.  Originally, an excellent song from the superior DIO album, The Last In Line.  Here it is handled with complete care and respect.  Jorn is no stranger to covering DIO, having recorded an entire tribute album to the great man in 2010, and this cover version would sit well on that collection.

Lastly, Jorn gives us his version of Peter Gabriels “The Rhythm of the Heat”, and turns it completely on its head, reinventing it as a heavy metal tune complete with galloping guitars and pounding drums.  It’s fantastically done.

Heavy Rock Radio II is a really great covers album, and a worthy addition to any music collection.

My only hope is that Jorn’s recent trip down under with Avantasia, proved that Australia is a viable touring option for him, and we can get him here ASAP.

8/10

Shayne McGowan.

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