Real Rock Fans Will “Dig” H&E’s Dig

Courtesy:  Quarto Valley Records

Courtesy: Quarto Valley Records

The latest release from the British blues/rock band, Heaven & Earth, is one of the year’s best rock albums, and potentially one of the year’s best overall albums.  From the album’s artwork to its songs, so much was done right with this album.  Bassist Chuck Wright notes in the album’s bonus DVD about the album’s cover art that it is meant to represent the “unearthing” of rock and roll.  He states that “it [rock and roll] has been buried away for far too long.”  And if that’s the case, then this album has done quite the job of “digging up” rock and roll.  As producer Dave Jenkins states, this album was an attempt to capture the vibe of a live show on record.  He and the band did just that from start to finish.

The album opens fittingly with the anthemic ‘Victorious.’  The opening Middle Eastern influenced strains lead in to front man Joe Retta’s powerhouse vocals.  He sings, “There’ll be a champion/Standing tall for all to see/On their way to be victorious/All for glory.”  Taking into account Jenkins’ statement about crafting an album that sounds like a live performance in studio, it becomes so easy to see Retta standing both before the mic and in front of thousands singing this line, fist raised along with those of thousands in attendance at a major arena as they sing in unison.  Even more interesting to note about this song (and others throughout the album) is that if one were listening to this record without knowing it was Retta and company, one would swear one was listening to either Chickenfoot or to its singer, Sammy Hagar.  Retta’s vocals are so close in style to Hagar’s that the difference is nearly incomparable. 

Joe Retta isn’t the only one that gets the chance to shine on H&E’s new record.  While he might front this veteran band, his band mates—Stuart Smith (guitars), Chuck Wright (Bass), Richie Onori (drums), and Arlan Schierbaum (keyboards)—also get their chance to showcase their talents, too.  Case in point, the album’s second track and lead single, ‘No Money No Love.’  Stuart Smith’s chops are right up there with guest musician Richie Sambora (Bon Jovi) in his solos.  And drummer Richie Onori keeps the band moving with a straight forward with solid time keeping that is just enough to impress any drummer of any level.  Add the keyboards of Arlan Schierbaum and audiences will hear just why this was chosen to lead off this album.  The band has also released a video for the album that can be viewed via YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9WB1iW0thik

Audiences get even more of that full on energy in the song, ‘Man & Machine.’  Again, one has to refer to [Dave] Jenkins’ mention of making a record that sounds like it’s a live experience here.  Everything that could go right with this song went right.  From its choruses to the pure musicianship of each band member, this is just one more of this record’s highest of points.  And it isn’t the last, either.  Fans will also enjoy the slower, bluesy vibe of ‘House of Blues’, the driving guitars and drums of ‘Back in Anger’, and ‘Rock and Roll Does’ as well as the record’s softer, slower moments.  Fans will especially enjoy ‘Rock and Roll Does.’  It would be a surprise if the band doesn’t use this as a show closer at its live shows in support of this record.  All assembled together, this record is a welcome change of pace from the constant drone of so much mainstream rock and the down tuned crunching guitars and cookie monster growls of less mainstream sounds.

Speaking of live shows, no live shows have been announced as of yet.  However, fans can get all the latest tour news and more from the band online at the band’s official Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/officialheavenandearth and its official website, http://heavenandearthband.com/wordpressDig is available now in stores and online.  It can be ordered online via iTunes at http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/dig/id637141654

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Satriani Announces New Album, Tour

Courtesy:  Epic Records/MAD Ink PR

Courtesy: Epic Records/MAD Ink PR

Veteran guitarist Joe Satriani is set to release his fourteenth full length studio release next month.  The album titled, Unstoppable Momentum is currently scheduled to be released May 7th via Epic Records.  A tour in support of the new album is already in the works, and scheduled to begin in August.  Before all of that happens though, fans can check out the video for the first single off of Satch’s new album via rollingstone.com.  The video for ‘A Door Into Summer’ can be viewed at Rolling Stone magazine’s website now at http://www.rollingstone.com/music/videos/joe-satriani-prepares-for-the-heat-in-a-door-into-summer-premiere-20130418.

As Rolling Stone writer RJ Cubarrubia notes in the video’s description, the video shows Satriani packing the van and heading to Skywalker Studios where the new album was recorded.  The vintage feel of the video mixed with more modern day feel combine to make a song that despite the other part of the song’s description, leads to thoughts of where Joe has been musically, and where he is now.

Audiences can pre-order Unstoppable Momentum now online through the Epic Records online store at http://www.myplaydirect.com/joe-satrianiUnstoppable Momentum can also be downloaded via iTunes at https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/unstoppable-momentum/id632120065.

Fans that pre-order the album online will also get the chance to bundle signed copies of the album with exclusive t-shirts and guitar straps.  Fans will even get the chance to receive an exclusive, never before seen art book full of drawings, doodles, and more that Joe has drawn throughout his career.  “Some of my drawings have made their way on to guitars, straps and picks, LP and CD booklets, t-shirts, hats, keychains, etc and even my live stage productions,” he said.  “This book represents my first effort to finally compile my oddly drawn friends into one place, a wildly colorful portfolio of sorts. A collection of drawings meant to inspire and entertain.”

Fans can keep up with the latest tour dates and news as it is announced through Joe’s official Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/joesatriani and his official website, http://www.satriani.com.

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Re-Machined More Than Just A Tribute Record

Courtesy:  Eagle Records/Eagle Rock Entertainment

Courtesy: Eagle Records/Eagle Rock Entertainment

Famed British hard rock band Deep Purple is set to drop its new album next month.  The album, titled Now What?! will be released in the United State Tuesday, April 30th.  While fans wait for the release of this highly anticipated album, they have another recent release to tide them over in the form of the tribute album, Re-Machined: A Tribute to Deep Purple’s Machine Head.  It may be a tribute album, but it is still a great album for both new and long-time fans of Deep Purple.

The new honorary compilation hit stores in late 2012 as part of the 40th anniversary of the landmark album’s original release.  It features all seven tracks from Deep Purple’s original iconic album plus a pair of bonuses.  One of those bonuses comes in the form of Metallica’s cover of ‘When A Blind Man Cries.’  As Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich notes in the compilation’s liner notes, “I have a list of songs in my head that Metallica should play before we either break up or die, and Deep Purple’s ‘When A Blind man Cries’ is one of those songs.”  The song in question is a bonus in that it actually never made the record.  Again, the liner notes shed light on this.  The notes, written by Classic Rock Magazine’s Mark Blake note that the song in question was originally a B-side to the song, ‘Never Before’ but has become a fan favorite throughout the years.  So it only made sense to have it included on this tribute record.  And it’s just one of the pieces that make this album a must not just for any Deep Purple fan but for any hard rocker, period.

‘When A Blind Man Cries’ is just one part of what makes Re-Machined such an impressive album of covers.  Going back to Ulrich, he and Metallica constitute just one of the acts brought together to record this album who openly tout Deep Purple as an influence in their own career as musicians.  Blake writes of Iron Maiden’s front man Bruce Dickinson (whose band also covers a track on the disc) that he [Dickinson] was also a “serious Purple aficionado.”  He quotes Dickinson as saying, “I cut my teeth as a kid on Deep Purple.  It’s what I grew up with.  It’s what got me out of bed in the mornings.”  Now if that isn’t a tribute in itself to the importance of Deep Purple in the music world, it’s anyone’s guess what is.  Dickinson and company ended up recording ‘Space Truckin’’ for the record, which is an absolutely outstanding piece both originally and as a cover here.  The way that it drives (no pun intended), it will have fans pumping their fists and singing along loud and proud. 

If Iron Maiden’s ‘Space Truckin’’ isn’t enough to convince fans of this compilation’s importance, then maybe the album’s opener will.  Carlos Santana (yes, that Carlos Santana) joins Papa Roach front man Jacoby Shaddix for a cover of what is arguably the band’s most famous song of all time, ‘Smoke on the Water.’  What’s really interesting about this cover is that while it is a cover, it doesn’t feel or sound like one.  Far too often, bands and artists try to take classic songs and update them.  That’s not the case here.  Shaddix and Santana have taken the classic and made it their own while still paying homage to the original.  It makes perfect sense as to why the album would open with this cover in hearing Santana’s guitar chops and the solid vocals of Shaddix.  It also serves one more purpose that at a passing glance is missed.  But in really thinking about the generational mix presented here, one sees the purer purpose of using it as the compilation’s opener.

On the surface, having a bunch of bands and artists resurrect one of rock’s most important and iconic albums is a great thing.  Having the album resurrected by a collection of rock’s greatest names past and present is even greater.  What this does is it makes it more than just a tribute album.  It makes the album a music history lesson in and of itself.  As evidenced in the opening number, young audiences will be pulled in by the inclusion of Papa Roach’s Jacoby Shaddix.  Older audiences will be pulled in from both the fact that it’s Deep Purple and that fellow veteran musician Carlos Santana is on the track.  Also because of the inclusion of Santana, those same younger audiences will potentially be introduced to the music of not just one great classic act, but two in both Deep Purple and Carlos Santana, thus preserving both acts’ legacies for a whole new generation.  The same could be said of the inclusion of Chickenfoot’s live cover of ‘Highway Star’ and Black Label Society’s cover of ‘Pictures of Home.’ 

It should be clear by everything noted here that Re-Machined is more than just a tribute to a band.  It’s a tribute, yes.  But it’s also a tribute to everything that was and still is right with rock and roll.  It’s a musical love letter to real rock and an excellent way to get a whole new generation of hard rockers and metal heads into what is without a doubt, one of mainstream rock’s greatest bands.  The album is available now in stores and online.  Audiences can get more information on this album, the band’s upcoming new full length studio release and its tour dates online at http://www.deeppurple2013 and http://www.facebook.com/officialdeeppurple

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Chickenfoot Debuts New Live Video, Re-Issues Debut LP

Fans of the rock super group Chickenfoot have two reasons to celebrate today.  The band re-issued its self-titled debut record this week, and it debuted a new live video.  The newly re-issued album now includes a second disc with a handful of performances from the band’s “Different Devil” tour this past Spring.  The tracks included on the bonus disc are:  ‘Lighten Up’, ‘Big Foot’, ‘Last Temptation’, and ‘Something Going Wrong.’  Speaking of ‘Something Going Wrong’, the band has debuted a live video for a performance of the song online at Rolling Stone magazine’s website.

Courtesy: Entertainment One

Front man Sammy Hagar shares his thoughts on the song in the accompanying article, explaining how Joe’s (Satriani) music gave him a different vibe than the band’s other songs, thus the visual imagery tied in with the shots of the band’s time together so far.  It makes for an interesting watch.  Fans can check out the video now at http://www.rollingstone.com/music/videos/chickenfoot-get-retrospective-in-something-going-wrong-premiere-20121018

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Long Live The Foot!

Courtesy: Entertainment One

Nearly a year has passed since rock supergroup Chickenfoot–Sammy Hagar (vocals), Michael Anthony (bass), Joe Satriani (guitar), Chad Smith (drums)–released its second full length studio album.  In the time since the release of “Chickenfoot III”, this band has continued to make as many waves as its album.  “Chickenfoot III” picks right up where the band’s debut album left off.  It wastes no time, kicking right into gear with the album’s opener, ‘Last Temptation.’  [Sammy] Hagar and company show that they’re in prime form on this new release.

There’s no letting up from the band after ‘Last Temptation’ as the band launches right into the equally up-tempo, ‘Alright Alright.’  The band is a fully cohesive unit, not missing a single beat with this album.  Who would have ever thought that the band singing one simple word over and over again would be so much fun.  Go figure.  Somehow though, the band manages to ame doing just that something so fun.  So fun in fact, that it makes this song, one of the album’s best tracks.

As much fun as the band’s new album is, it does have a more serious moment on ‘Three and a Half Letters.’  This track comes across almost as a sort of spoken word piece, with Hagar reading letters about people who have lost their jobs and singing.  While it’s not outright, being that the song is included in this album, and that the album was released when it was, this is a direct reflection of the current job market and economic state of the country.  It is easily the single most powerful piece on the entire album. 

‘Three and a Half Letters’ is a truly powerful song.  It’s one song taht will leave a lasting impression for any listener.  While it makes for a great addition to the overall sequencing, audiences are brought back from the seriousness of the world right after that in another of the album’s best songs in ‘Big Foot.’  It brings listeners back to the fun that opened the album in ‘Last Temptation.’  There’s never an easy way to transition from the serious issue of unemployment to something happier.  That’s even the case here.  But Chickenfoot is deserving of some credit for making the attempt.  That’s because along with ‘Dubai Blues’, ‘Big Foot’ helps to ease lisenters back to a more positive mindset.

“Chickenfoot III” offers fans so much great material.  But the music isn’t the only star of this album.  The inclusion of old school 3-D glasses to check out the pictures and “hidden” information on the included cards makes for a fun little experience in itself.  All said, Chickenfoot III is an excellent album from one of modern rock’s greatest supergroups.  One can only hope that with each members’ main projects, fans will still see another Chickenfoot album sooner rather than later, as great as this album and its predecessor are.

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