Style: tribute, hard rock, classic rock, heavy metal, Norwegian
Members: Jorn Lande ~ vocals
Jorn Viggo Lofstad, Tore Moren ~ guitars
Sid Ringsby, Morty Black ~ bass
Willy Bendiksen ~ drums
Additional: Stian Kristoffersen, Jan Axel Blomberg ~ drums
Magnus Rosen ~ bass
Norwegian metal singer JL should be more known. Those I've encountered who know his name or one of the many bands he's been a part of - Vagabond, Masterplan, Allen/Lande, Avantasia, The Snakes & Ark - praise him without hesitance, everyone else should discover him. His music ranges from power metal to more bluesy metal to thrash, but the range is smaller than not. He's got a groove that keys right into 70's metal & its Judas Priest or bust in his book & he's not interested in wavering from his focus. His solo output doesn't waver too much from the influences of his musical mentors & that might be what makes JL so pleasurable. He might be nearly obsessed with Ronnie James Dio & David Coverdale, I've earlier reviewed his album Dio of covers of guess who, & could step into Dio's shoes with no problem ... & he did play with Heaven & Hell after Dio's death actually alongside Glenn Hughes ... but what makes JL's vocals & music so pleasurable is how comfy a fit that is. JL is no weak imitation. He might be influenced by Dio right down to song structure & lyrical subjects, but JL makes it his own all the way. When he's not in Dio mode he's in Deep Purple era Coverdale mode. The problem though is the imitation, deliberate or just organic, is its sometimes a bit too imitative. Songs begin to sound more alike then not, which means they sound more like Whitesnake bootlegs than not, or more properly when Whitesnake went power metal, which they didn't do & that's where JL picks up where Coverdale leaves off. But, on the whole JL has the pipes to always keep it high quality if not the most interesting & sometimes the imitator is worth checking out just as much as the original. Dukebox collects sixteen of his solo hits together from his first five solo album spanning 2000 to 2008, excluding his 70's classic rock covers album Unlocking The Past. It seems like an obvious place to start when discovering JL, but it has some interesting quirks. It is a good introduction to JL, without doubt, for the new fan, but there's nothing here for old fans. There's no unreleased, B-sides or demos. It fails in providing for old fans. Maybe JL was disappointed too many times spending money on an album for one iffy new song. If that's the case I can forgive him as he's thinking smart & not greedy like every other musician. Okay, there is sort of something here for old fans in that two songs from his third album Out To Every Nation are new versions & while all the songs are previously released they have been remastered. It's not much, but its something. But, even for new fans there's a quirk. This is JL's second compilation. His first The Gathering brought together both solo songs & songs from some of his bands, making that a more diverse compilation. But, due to contractual issues he re-recorded his solo hits with his new band for that release. Though, I can't say which version is better as I've not heard many of the originals, but The Gathering is loved by JL fans so he certainly didn't do any damage to his catalog & maybe improved it. Old fans thus might find The Gathering interesting if they want alternative recordings with a different line-up, so that's the album for them. The quirk with Dukebox is that for all but the last two solo albums JL collects here The Gathering re-recordings. So, this ends up being a collection of a collection with two solo albums featured instead of the band songs. We get JL the songwriter but not how the music has changed over the decade. But, this is JL. It really hasn't changed as mentioned already. Even with the originals here instead it would sound as one cohesive set of songs, unlike what many compilations sound like, now it just sounds a bit more cohesive since all the songs are by the same band. Thus, for listenability it's a strong release. My thinking is if you're a casual fan you might be happy with this one album & that's all you'll want. With sixteen tracks this is thus a good buy & its just JL & not his bands. If you're a casual fan you won't necessarily care if you don't have the original versions. If you do want to go back & hear the originals, start anywhere. If you like this you'll love everything else JL has done & all the albums get good reviews. Just maybe avoid The Gathering, no reason to duplicate now that you've gone from new fan to old fan.