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/wordpress. Dig 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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