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Posted: August 13, 2009

Dio’s Sabbath returns as Heaven and Hell

Ozzy-less band plays Red Rocks on Saturday

Mike Cote

HEAVEN AND HELL The Devil You Know (Rhino)

After Black Sabbath fired Ozzy Osbourne in the late ’70s, it briefly looked like the band would do just fine without him. With former Blackmore’s Rainbow screamer Ronnie Dio on vocals, the band scored its biggest hit in years with Heaven and Hell. The band petered out after a couple of more albums – while Osbourne reclaimed his heavy metal crown as a solo artist.

With a successful reunion tour behind them, Dio and company – guitarist Tony Iommi, bassist Geezer Butler and drummer Vinny Appice -- regrouped this year for a new studio disc The Devil You Know and perform Saturday at Red Rocks Amphitheatre. While these metal heads hardly sound fresh after all these years, the bone-crunching formula for songs like “Atom and Evil,” “Eating the Cannibals” and “Breaking into Heaven” should please fans in a Spinal Tap kind of way. (It’s hard not to break a grin after hearing Dio’s lyrics for “Breaking into Heaven.”)

THE JAYHAWKS Music from the North Country: The Jayhawks Anthology (American Recordings/Legacy)

The Jayhawks jumpstarted the Americana movement in the early ’90s but never quite got their due despite a track record of superbly crafted country rock that picked up the mantle from Gram Parsons, the Byrds and Poco. This anthology comes in two versions – a single 20-track disc that compiles tracks from the band’s studio albums and a three-disc set that adds a second CD packed with rarities plus a DVD of performance footage and videos.

Spring for the deluxe version, especially if you’re among the Jayhawks fans who cringed when the band released “I’m Gonna Make You Love Me” -- a slick last-ditch attempt for commercial success that got the Jayhawks some radio airplay. The rarities disc includes Gary Louris’ original version of the song, then called “Someone Will,” a bittersweet song that comes off as ambivalent and too subtle for the Top 40. Not seeing a hit, the record company balked and Louris hired a song doctor to write a catchy chorus – set to some rather sappy lyrics.

But that’s a small sin for a band whose legacy is worth revisiting.

DUKE ROBILLARD’S JUMPIN’ BLUES REVUE Stomp! The Blues Tonight (Stony Plain)

Duke Robillard has been mining retro blues and R&B from the ’40s and ’50s for so many years, he’s long ago surpassed the output of most of the artists who have inspired him. Just since he signed with Stony Plain in 1993, he’s averaged an album a year, not including jazz guitar collaborations and albums he’s produced for other artists.

On Stomp! The Blues Tonight, the guitarist, singer and bandleader revisits some of the material that first inspired him to add a horn section to Roomful of Blues, the New England band he led for 12 years beginning in 1967. Backed by old colleagues like Rich Lataille and Doug James on saxophones and Bruce Bears on piano, Robillard dusts off songs made famous by Wynonie Harris, Roy Milton, Big Joe Turner and Jimmy Witherspoon.

Anyone who has listened to Robillard over the years knows how much he’s at home with this material, where blues and R&B gave birth to early rock ’n’ roll. On Stomp! the guitarist gives the horns plenty of solo time but dishes out plenty of licks himself.

Singer Sunny Crownover takes the spotlight on the bad girl blues of “Million Dollar Secret” and “Hands Off,” the latter a come-on under the guise of a girl warning a would-be suitor that she’s “taken.” Robillard and Crownover share vocals on a smooth duet of “I Want to Hug You, Kiss You Squeeze You.”

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Mike Cote is the former editor of ColoradoBiz. E-mail him at mcote@cobizmag.com.

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