Jorn: Live in Black
Yep, the vocal cameleon that is Jorn Lande is back with a live album with his solo band Jorn. The journeyman singer who has done everything from power metal with Masterplan to older Whitesnake material in Company of Snakes/The Snakes has released a 17-track affair recorded before an appreciative crowd. The music featured here is far closer to power metal with touches of Dio fronted Rainbow than anything bluesier.
Not sure why it was necessary to include two guitar solos and a drum solo with the other tracks. They are bad enough in person most of the time but recorded they really do smack of "filler".
On the other hand, Jorn's shout-out to the dearly missed Ronnie James Dio is welcome and not surprising considering the band released an album of Dio covers. Live albums are always a hard sell to those unfamiliar with the band.
There is no doubt Jorn has a great voice and can certainly sing the paint of anything he puts his voice to. There are few more versatile vocalists peddling their wares today. If you like the band or Jorn's heavier work then this is certainly a good testament to the quality of the band. The track "Spirit Black" is truly hard to resist.
Those new to this band might, however, want to check out the excellent Worldchanger for a better introduction. Then again, Jorn could sing the phone-book set to music and it would probably be worth listening to.
Night Ranger: Somewhere in California
Unlike some bands of era, including Styx, Night Ranger have resisted the temptation to re-record some of their older hits under some obscure excuse. This is a genuine new album from Night Ranger and the best thing they have released since their 80s heyday. It has all those elements that made Night Ranger such a great band.
It's the same vibe that Jack Blades brought to Damn Yankees that made them so damn good. "Growing Up in Califronia" is a nostalgic track that paints of picture of what inspired the band to be what they were. What is great about the track is that the keyboards give a hint of "You Can Still Rock in America". This song makes for a great companion to that classic track. Needless to say the track has that same sing-along quality that marks out all great Night Ranger tracks.
Blades has said this reflects the hard rock side of Night Ranger rather than the "power ballad" side that the band also has. "Lay it on Me" is certainly hard rock fare, make no mistake.