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Heaven and Earth - Dig Award winner

Heaven and Earth
by Casper De Ro Ro at 19 October 2014, 1:58 PM

Dig is a superlative milestone in the ongoing journey of the pure and classic rock archetype.

Modern emphasis and freshness put to the classic melodies and a lead voice that will resurrect every rock voice you have ever heard and give an additional dimension by compounding them into one stunning expression. I desperately wish to hear Ritchie Blackmore’s and Ian Gillian’s critiques of this phenomenal work. But, knowing the individual backgrounds of the contributing artists a collective harmonisation is bound to end in triumph.

Joe Retta possesses vocal capacity characteristically the envy of any rock or metal vocalist. A natural for the classic rock genre with the ability to adorn melody with lyrical soul.  His history is one of inspiration and musical success, however after listening to Dig, his joining with former Smith guitarist Stuart Smith, to date his most terrific musical leap forward.

Ty Bailie is a tremendously talented and diverse keyboard player limited to no genre. His list of alliances throughout his distinguished career extremely varied and extensive. The sound he contributes to this album speaks volumes out shadows any words I can muster forth here.

Lynn Sorensen is quite literally a legendary musician and bassist, he performed as a member of the Living Legends Concert for NAMM 2013. Musician from bands such as Iron Maiden, Quiet Riot, Three Dog Night, The Motels, Asia, Yes, Bad Company, Blue Oyster Cult, BB King formed this fabulous group.

Whilst still focusing on legends, Kenny Aronoff is the percussionist for this behemoth of rock.  Arguably the most sought after drummer in contemporary music history he was voted number one Pop/Rock Drummer and the number one Studio Drummer for five consecutive years by Modern Drummer Magazine’s audience. Brace yourself for an indication of whose line up this man has graced. Or perhaps it’s the other way around? Dave Grohl, Bonnie Raitt, John Mellencamp, George Jones, SMASHING PUMPKINS, Ringo Starr, LYNYRD SKYNYRD, Alanis Morissette, PUDDLE OF MUDD, Bob Seger, Melissa Etheridge, Rod Stewart, Waylon Jennings, Alice Cooper, Mick Jagger, Avril Lavigne, Bruce Springsteen, Ray Charles, Santana, Don Henley, Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Jon Bon Jovi, Bob Dylan, Ricky Martin, Patti LaBelle, Conway Twitty, John Fogerty, Joe Cocker, Elton John and the list just keeps on going. I for one don’t know what I have been doing with my time in comparison.

Previously destined to follow in his father’s footsteps serving as a jet pilot with the Royal Air Force (UK), Stuart Smith to a sharp turn toward a shining career in music. Mentored personally by the legendary Ritchie Blackmore it would seem that his life has been building to this album.  A guitarist of international repute and success throughout the 80’s and 90’s, his time with Sweet formed the determined intent and vision that would eventually become HEAVEN AND EARTH. The creation of Stuart Smith’s Heaven & Earth circa 1999 is well known to most rock devotees. Collaborations with  Richie Sambora (Bon Jovi), Joe Lynn Turner (Rainbow), Glenn Hughes (Deep Purple), Camine Appice (Vanilla Fudge), guitarist Howard Leese (Heart), singer Kelly Hansen (Foreigner), bassist Chuck Wright (Quiet Riot) and drummer Richie Onari (Sweet) lead to building success.

Now with the current line up assembled, all is in place for something phenomenal and spectacular.

The opening sounds experienced in "Victorious" have you guessing early, although the guitar skills are faultless and before long you are nodding your head with a symbolic clenched fist aloft “Mano-y-mano” in lyrical union with Joe.

You receive an excellent introduction for what the album and sound is all about and then move on to "No Money No Love" and an incredibly crisp and refreshing sound provokes recollection of days gone past and a joyful realization that these are new tracks and new achievements. The amazing skills of each artist are beautifully highlighted in I Don’t Know What Love Is. The collective harmonies at mid-point are nothing short of breathtaking and an ‘old school’ rock guitar solo is welcome and natural.

Following a beautiful ballad "Man and Machine" steps in to kick your arse back into rocking rhythm and remind us of what a fantastic residence the keyboards hold is in pure rock music.

If your head nodding in melodic approval was getting a little too ‘metal mosh’, "House Of Blues" is presented in timely fashion to lure us back into the intended genre.  "Back In Anger" and "Waiting for the End of the World" are utterly brilliant pieces and reminders of where our rock roots are buried deep in the electrically energised era of musical history.

The entire album increases in harmonic complexity and "Rock and Roll Does" defines the work perfectly. "A Day Like Today" struck me unawares however before long I found myself re-experiencing the intricacies of classic rock in days gone by.  It is a perfect inclusion and a terrific aide-mémoire of the experience, knowledge and skill of the masters.

Good Times immediately brings a gratuitously colossal smile to my face and I can’t stop it. It is a master stroke of production to include this as the penultimate piece. Those who appreciate this album will be left craving more, just as Live As One brings the album to a most fitting end.  Without seeking to misinterpret the lyrics, this track demonstrates how this band, their experience and influences, honour past legends lost to time and simultaneously create an new era of classic rock appreciation. The symbiosis of musician and melody is demonstrated perfectly as audiences are treated be lyrically entwined in this superb work.


5 Star Rating

1. Victorious
2. No Money, No Love
3. I Don’t Know What Love Is
4. Man & Machine
5. House of Blues
6. Back in Anger
7. Waiting for the End of The World
8. Sexual Insanity
9. Rock & Roll Does
10. A Day Like Today
11. Good Times
12. Live as One
Joe Retta - Vocals
Stuart Smith - Guitar
Lynn Sorensen - Bass
Jackie Barnes - Drums
Ty Bailie - Hammond
Record Label: 7Hard Records


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Edited 31 March 2023

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